Sustain Charlotte joins call for wise use of Volkswagen mitigation trust funds

Sustain Charlotte joined with Southern Environmental Law Center, the NC Conservation Network, Clean Air Carolina, and WakeUP Wake County to submit a letter outlining our suggestions with regard to how the Department of Environmental Quality should best allocate funding from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust. The suggestions are outlined below, while the entire letter can be found here.

EV charging station

EV charging station in Raleigh (Photo Credit: Rural Electric Magazine)

The backstory

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a complaint against Volkswagen for violating the Clean Air Act. VW sold approximately 590,000 diesel motor vehicles equipped with “defeat devices,” computer software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests.

Diesel exhaust presents a serious health risk. Long-term inhalation can cause cancer and other lung damage, and even short-term exposure can cause irritation and inflammation, exacerbating allergies and respiratory illnesses such as asthma. The case was resolved in 2017, resulting in the establishment of a mitigation trust fund that each state helps administer.

A summary of how we’re asking the state to use these funds:

In considering how to spend North Carolina’s allocated amount from the Mitigation Trust Fund, we believe the state should prioritize programs that will directly mitigate the harm caused by Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scheme. The excessive and unlawful diesel emissions that resulted from Volkswagen’s actions worsened air quality and heightened health risks in North Carolina’s cities. VW’s deception also increased North Carolina’s greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In the U.S., the transportation sector now leads power plants as the largest source of greenhouse gases. In turn, the transportation sector represents one of the areas where the U.S., and North Carolina in particular, stand to make some of the greatest strides to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • We strongly urge North Carolina to allocate the maximum allowable percentage of its Mitigation Trust funds to Electric Vehicle (“EV”) charging stations. By seizing on this chance to increase the EV charging infrastructure, North Carolina can hasten its march toward electrification of transportation system and a cleaner, more efficient future.
  • We suggest North Carolina should invest the remaining funds in the electrification of diesel transit buses and school buses. Electrification of vehicles is important both for reducing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as improving local air quality.
  • While we suggest that most, if not all, the Mitigation Trust Funds be spent on EV charging stations and electric bus purchases and replacements, we do also want to note that there may be some benefit to directing a small portion of the Mitigation Trust Funds toward the electrification of airport ground support equipment.
EV charger

(Photo Credit: NCDOT)

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