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Volkswagen Settlement – What’s Next?

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It has been over a year since the court initially approved a partial settlement and consent decree resolving allegations that Volkswagen (VW) violated the Clean Air Act. The settlement and consent decree stemmed from the sale of approximately 500,000 model year 2009 to 2015 cars containing 2.0 liter diesel engines (with another 80,000 model year 3.0 liter engines added in December 2016) that were equipped with emission-testing defeat devices. The settlement, consent decree, and related background information can be found on the Palmetto Clean Fuels website.
 
So, what’s happened since the settlement was reached?
In June, Governor Henry McMaster announced that the SC Department of Insurance (DOI) would serve as the lead agency in South Carolina and, therefore, be responsible for administering the distribution of South Carolina’s $31 million portion of the $2.7 billion settlement. DOI developed a website to share information, accept proposals, and provide the public with a means to subscribe for notifications.  DOI was required to file its Certification for Beneficiary Status by December 1, 2017. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, DOI will need to develop a written Beneficiary Mitigation Plan explaining how the money will be spent in the state.
 
What does all this really mean?
Money should be available to spend on reducing emissions from nitrogen oxides or NOx – a pollutant which forms when fuel is burned at high temperatures from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, boats, construction equipment, and buses. The settlement agreement and consent decree established a series of eligible mitigation actions – or ways in which the money could be spent. These include everything from truck stop electrification to reduce emissions from trucks that idle for long periods, to replacing school and transit buses. Appendix D-2 of the Trust Agreement goes into greater detail in terms of how the money can be spent – even breaking down how much of the money can be spent on a particular project based on who owns the piece of equipment.
 
What’s the best way to get involved?
DOI is accepting proposals via email at vwsettlement@doi.sc.gov. DOI will close their submission process “at some point, although this date is not yet determined.” In the meantime, stay tuned and subscribe at doi.sc.gov/notifyme.