The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is now accepting public comment on how to spend the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust funds, including:
- Funding categories
- Geographical distribution of funds
- Fuel types
- Expected range of emissions reductons
- Community benefit criteria
- Efficient administration of funds
In September 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that Volkswagen vehicles were being manufactured with a “defeat device”, or software in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested to improve results of emissions testing. Volkswagen (VW) admitted to deploying defeat devices that caused the vehicles to emit levels of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) in excess of EPA compliance levels.
In October 2016, the U.S. District Court approved the first partial consent decree between the U.S., California, and Volkswagen. The first partial consent decree has three parts totaling $14.7 billion (Vehicle buybacks and modification, Environmental mitigation trust, Zero emission vehicle investment).
In May 2017, the Court approved a second partial consent decree adding $225 million to the Environmental Mitigation Trust fund (EMT), bringing the total EMT funds to $2.925 billion. Based on the number of affected vehicles in the state, Texas is expected to receive $209,319,164 in funding – approximately $209 million.
On September 19, the United States District Court finalized the Environmental Mitigation Trust agreement for state and related beneficiaries, clearing the way for $209 million of clean transportation funding for Texas. The Trust Effective Date (TED) was set on October 2, 2017.
On November 21, 2017, Texas filed a certification form to become a beneficiary and receive its financial allocation under the Trust agreement. In the certification form, the Governor's Office selected the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as the lead agency for administering VW funding in Texas. The TCEQ will be responsible for setting grant guidelines.
Once Texas is certified as a beneficiary, which is expected to occur by early February 2018, it must create a beneficiary mitigation plan (BMP) that summarizes how it plans to use its allocated funds. This plan will be publicly available and must be submitted to the trustee at least thirty days prior to the first funding request from the TCEQ.
The BMP will provide a high-level summary of how the state plans to spend their allocated funds. The BMP will prioritize certain Eligible Mitigation Actions (EMAs), such as repower or replacement of vehicles, building out Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure and other emissions-reduction programs.