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Cuomo: New York to invest $127.7M Volkswagen settlement in clean vehicles

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Thu, Sep 6th 2018 04:40 pm
Funds secured via attorney general's settlement with VW support implementation of governor's climate mandate by expanding electric vehicle use & bolstering efforts to reduce NOx, greenhouse gas emissions 
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York will utilize the $127.7 million received from the 2016 Volkswagen settlement to dramatically increase the number of electric vehicles and other clean vehicles in the state. Covered vehicles include new buses, trucks, locomotives, ferries, tugboats and cargo-handling equipment, as well as the availability of electric vehicle charging equipment statewide.
At the governor's direction, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, in concert with the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, New York Power Authority, state Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and others, developed "Clean Transportation NY" - New York's plan to strategically invest settlement resources for maximum benefit and to build on New York's national leadership on clean energy and climate change.
The funds were secured through the attorney general's settlement with Volkswagen in close collaboration with DEC. The state's strategically leveraged investment of settlement funds is anticipated to result in at least $300 million of clean vehicles and infrastructure on New York's roadways.
"Combatting climate change and air pollution and protecting our environment is critical to the very future of this great state," Cuomo said. "As Washington continues to roll back protections, New York is more committed than ever to supporting cleaner, greener transportation technologies. By strategically investing these settlement funds, we can take real action to improve community health and sustainability, while providing incentives to address one of the largest causes of harmful pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood said, "Our office secured an unprecedented settlement with Volkswagen for its flagrant violations of emissions standards. Now, the VW settlement funds are being put to work to expand the use of electric vehicles across New York. We have aggressively and successfully fought back against those who harm New Yorkers' health and environment - and we will continue to do so."
Cuomo's camp said that, in October 2016, a federal judge approved a national settlement plan to address Volkswagen's installation and use of devices in approximately 580,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles that circumvented federal emissions standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx), one of the main contributors to smog and respiratory problems. The companies installed emissions control defeat device software in cars from model years 2009 through 2016, which allowed NOx emissions up to 40 times the certification standard.
With the support of the attorney general's office, New York received $127.7 million as part of this legal settlement. The state will invest these resources in projects to mitigate the impacts of VW's air violations. Under "Clean Transportation NY," the state will use these funds to maximize the reduction of emissions of NOx and other harmful pollutants, including greenhouse gases, particulate matter and mobile source air toxics while also spurring investment in clean transportation infrastructure.
As part of its efforts to fight climate change, the state plans to use more than 60 percent of the funding to accelerate the adoption of electrified transportation by reducing the cost of electric buses and trucks, particularly transit buses, and providing funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In addition, New York will replace or re-power older, high-polluting diesel-powered trucks, school buses, and equipment with cleaner vehicles and equipment. The state will prioritize replacement of older, dirty vehicles and equipment with emission-free electric versions and will fund replacement with other new, much lower-emitting technologies that would provide substantially greater emission reductions for the funding available.
New York's actions are designed to both mitigate the impacts of the excess NOx emissions from VW vehicles and provide incentives to transition to newer, cleaner vehicles for public transit, individual use, and freight transport. NOx emission reductions achieved by the plan will exceed the emissions from the faulty VW vehicles and will be equivalent to removing 65,000 automobiles from the road, which will improve air quality statewide. 
The "Clean Transportation NY" plan strategies are also designed to reduce NOx emissions in areas disproportionately impacted by diesel pollution, including environmental justice (EJ) communities. The plan is designed both to stimulate the transition to electric equipment, trucks and buses, and maximize NOx emission reductions, particularly in EJ communities, by replacing old, dirty vehicles like garbage trucks and drayage trucks with cleaner, lower-emitting new vehicles.
Additional "Clean Transportation NY" investments will fund electric vehicle charging infrastructure to support and encourage the growth of all-electric ground support equipment at airports and light-duty, on-road all-electric vehicles throughout the state. The mitigation plan will also bolster the state's zero-emissions vehicle program, which requires vehicle manufacturers to research, develop and market electric vehicles that will have zero tailpipe emissions. Cuomo's actions to support electric vehicle sales and infrastructure have already increased the number of electric vehicles sold in New York 67 percent from 2016 to 2017. 
After finalizing the plan, DEC will work with state authorities and others to implement it. That implementation process will prioritize electrification in most investment categories. For example, DEC will work with a New York authority with a decided emphasis on replacing old diesel-powered school buses with new, all-electric school buses. This solicitation will recognize the promise of cooperative and community ownership models, without excluding other public and private proposals. Implementation processes will also prioritize investments in EJ areas and other areas disproportionately burdened by diesel emissions.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Gov. Cuomo's ongoing commitment to fight climate change has made New York a national leader in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making clean vehicles a viable option for businesses, residents and municipalities. These settlement funds will allow us to speed-up the transition to a clean transportation system, which will make the air we breathe healthier for all New Yorkers, including those in environmental justice communities."
Richard Kauffman, chairman of Energy and Finance for New York state, said, "Under Gov. Cuomo, New York has already made significant progress in reducing our carbon footprint from the energy sector and power plants. By putting these VW settlement monies to good use, New York has significant opportunities to expand the growth and usage of cleaner modes of transportation across the state to ensure we meet our nation-leading emissions reduction goals to combat climate change." 
State DOT Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "Gov. Cuomo is leading the way on curbing climate change and this new plan will go even further by expanding the use of clean-fueled vehicles and improving air quality. We are proud to partner with our sister agencies to implement this ambitious plan, making wise use of settlement funds to transform our transportation system so that communities across the state can have clean air and prosper."
NOx is a group of highly reactive gases containing nitrogen and oxygen produced during combustion. NOx is a primary component in ground-level ozone, which can cause asthma and other respiratory and cardiological problems, as well as contribute to acid rain, and damage forests, crops and waterways. In addition, NOx is associated with the deposition of excess nutrients to waterbodies, which contributes to algal blooms, damage to fish and shellfish, and other negative environmental impacts.
New York has reduced ozone levels across the state, including in the New York Metropolitan Area ozone nonattainment area. The state has also reduced NOx emissions in the electricity sector, achieving reductions of 89 percent from fossil fuel power plants since 2000. However, emissions from "mobile sources," which include motor vehicles, airplanes, locomotives and other engine-driven equipment, account for approximately 67 percent of all NOx emissions in New York.
During the process of developing the plan to utilize VW settlement funds, DEC solicited comments and suggestions from both private and public partners. In addition to working with state agencies and authorities, these outreach efforts included six public events throughout the state to seek comments. More than 150 people attended the public events. DEC also held more than 60 meetings, presentations, or conference calls with stakeholder groups. These stakeholders included environmental groups, transportation groups, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers, energy suppliers and EJ organizations. 
DEC welcomes further stakeholder input on the plan prior to submitting it to the federal trustee in September and as the plan is implemented. More information on "Clean Transportation NY" and the VW settlement is available on the DEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/109784.html.

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