As part of the next phase of a 2016 settlement with Volkswagen, a working group of state agency officials led by the Iowa Department of Transportation is seeking public input on what's being dubbed a "Beneficiary Mitigation Plan" that would allocate approximately $21 million towards efforts aimed at reducing airborne levels of nitrogen oxides.
Eligible projects are defined in the Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries that was established in the nationwide settlement of the Volkswagen litigation and the Iowa DOT stressed that no state funds will be utilized for these projects.
The agency said this draft plan is based in part on more than 500 responses to public survey conducted from February to April 2017, with many requests to use the funds for school bus replacements – specifically for buses utilizing alternative fuel sources. The survey respondents also "overwhelmingly favored" funding for zero-emissions infrastructure to support light-duty electric vehicles, the Iowa DOT said.
Iowa has combined the eligible mitigation actions into five categories and has established a target percentage of VW funds to be spent on each category. Class 4-8 buses make up the largest component of the proposed plan, with 45 percent of the funds earmarked to them, with zero-emission vehicle infrastructure getting 15 percent of the funds, another 15 percent going to Diesel Emission Reduction Act grants, and 10% earmarked for non-road transport and equipment needs.
The public comment period on the plan is open until May 25 this year and a copy of the plan and the comment form can be found at www.iowadot.gov/vwsettlement/default.aspx.
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