Via Tom Durning this story from Washington State which is just starting to receive the settlement that Volkswagen is required to pay to all fifty states. In 2015 Volkswagen was found liable for working around emission standards on their diesel vehicles and were required to pay out almost three billion dollars to the states to “reduce diesel dependency and related pollution” as Hannah Weinberger describes in Crosscut.
Washington State allocated the first $13.3 million dollars among six transit companies that purchased fifty zero-emission electric transit buses, and plans to also invest in electric school buses. In total Washington State will receive $112.7 million from the settlement, and will be directing half of those funds to electrifying existing buses and trucks. Of the nearly 3,500 transit buses in the state, many use diesel as their fuel.
“Volkswagen settlement funds represent a critical opportunity for states to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Washington is taking a big step in the right direction here, and we hope other states — some of which are still spending on dirty diesel buses — will take heed,” says the National Resources Defense Council’s Luke Tonachel, who directs its Clean Vehicles and Fuels Group.
In the state large diesel engines are a large air pollution and greenhouse gas source. Diesel pollution exposure in Seattle and surrounding King County is the worst in the state, with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency estimating that over a thousand deaths a year are caused by air pollution state wide.
Electric buses are more costly than diesel and the aim is to get transit agencies past the demonstration phase of just having one or two electric buses in their fleets. King County has 11 electric buses that cost just under one million dollars each. Transit agencies in Washington State have a commitment to work towards zero emissions, and the settlement funds from Volkswagen are a good first step. In fact King County hopes to upgrade its electric fleet from those 11 buses to 120 electric buses by 2021, which is a remarkably quick adaptation.