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Ohio EPA Schedules Public Meetings on Plans for Volkswagen Settlement
$75 million from mitigation trust to be directed toward state’s pollution prevention programs
Ohio EPA is asking for public comment on a plan to invest $75 million over the next 10 years to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution. Funding will come from dollars allocated to Ohio from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund. Three regional public information sessions are scheduled for January 2018 to explain how the plan was developed and to answer questions. Sessions will be held at the following times and locations:
Thursday, Jan. 11, (10 a.m. to noon) Auditorium, Ohio Department of Transportation, 1980 West Broad Street, Columbus
Thursday Jan. 18, (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) Estabrook Recreation Center, 4125 Fulton Rd., Cleveland
Monday Jan. 22, (10 a.m. to noon) Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), 720 East Pete Rose Way, Suite 420, Cincinnati.
In 2016, the United States and California sued Volkswagen and associated companies, alleging that VW installed defeat devices on certain vehicles (model years 2009-2016). The devices activated during emissions testing made vehicles appear compliant with the law, when in fact, during on-road operation, the vehicles emitted nine to 40 times the allowable amount of nitrogen oxides, a harmful air pollutant. A settlement filed with the federal court allocated funds to states based on the number of vehicles with the defeat devices that were registered in each state. The trust agreement requires each state to develop a plan identifying how funding will be allocated to 10 allowable uses that can reduce NOx emissions and offset damages. Eligible projects include replacement or engine repowers of the following: aging diesel trucks; school/shuttle/transit buses; ferries/tugboats; switcher locomotives; airport ground support equipment; forklifts; and cargo handling equipment in ports. Funds also may be used to install shorepower for ocean-going vessels in Great Lakes ports, and charging or fueling units for light duty zero-emission vehicles.
Ohio EPA has posted the draft beneficiary mitigation plan on the Office of Environmental Education web page, and will accept written comments on the plan through 5 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2018. Comments may be emailed to email@example.com. (Include “VW Comment” in the subject line.) Written comments also can be mailed to Carolyn Watkins, Ohio EPA-OEE, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049, or hand delivered to Ohio EPA headquarters, 50 W. Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, OH 43215.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.