California releases part of $35 million in VW mitigation funding

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has released the first installment of $35 million in VW Environmental Mitigation Trust funding for Zero-Emission Freight and Marine Projects.

The eligible projects are:

  • Scrap and replace airport ground support equipment, port cargo handling equipment, and heavy-lift forklifts with new zero-emission technologies.
  • Scrap and repower marine engines for ferries, tugboats and towboats with new zero-emission battery-electric or fuel cell technologies.
  • Install shore power at berths that serve ocean-going vessels.

It’s been five years since news regarding the Volkswagen diesel scandal broke, but states are just now getting ready to release settlement money intended to offset the extra pollution emitted by Volkswagens rigged to cheat emissions tests.

California’s $423 million plan for its Volkswagen settlement funds includes $90 million for zero-emission trucks, to be doled out in $30 million increments.

Later this year, CARB will release additional settlement funds to support the Zero-Emission Class 8 Freight and Port Drayage Trucks category. Projects will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The $90 million in funds allocated to this category will be released in an initial installment of $27 million. The first installment is anticipated to open during the third quarter of 2020.

In an interview with FreightWaves in the spring, Erik Neandross, CEO of Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), a clean transportation consulting firm, said the VW settlement funds might offset funding losses hitting the California Climate investments program, another source of clean truck funding, with money coming from the state’s cap-and-trade program

The settlement money might also substitute for a lack of a clean transportation federal stimulus tied to the coronavirus economic crisis. “It’s very timely as a stimulus proxy for lack of that at a federal level,” Neandross said.

Also timely: The release of the settlement funds comes as CARB is poised to approve a first of its kind electric truck sales standard that requires manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of electric vehicles.

Likely anticipating approval of that rulemaking, a group of heavy-duty truck manufacturers and suppliers on June 18 launched the National Zero-Emission Truck Coalition, an initiative advocating for federal charging and refueling infrastructure and increased federal investments in advanced clean transportation technologies.

To participate in CARB’s VW settlement zero emission freight and marine funding, fleets must submit an application online; the application deadline is August 31, 2020.

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