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April 24, 2018

State seeks public input on plan to improve air quality

$21 million available as part of Volkswagen settlement

AMES -- As part of the next phase of a 2016 settlement with Volkswagen, a working group of state agency officials seeks public input on a draft Beneficiary Mitigation Plan. This plan outlines a high-level vision for use of Iowa’s allocation of funds from the Volkswagen settlement. This settlement was intended to improve air quality in the state. 

Approximately $21 million will be available in Iowa for eligible projects that work to reduce nitrogen oxides as detailed in the Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries. No state funds will be used for these projects.

The public comment period on the plan is open from now until May 25, 2018.  A copy of the plan and the comment form can be found at www.iowadot.gov/vwsettlement/default.aspx. Please note: This plan is not a request for specific projects to be funded by the Volkswagen settlement. Project proposals will be accepted once this high-level plan is finalized.

The state working group is led by the Iowa Department of Transportation and includes the Iowa Attorney General's office.

Attorney General Tom Miller’s office was part of a multistate investigation over Volkswagen's manipulation of emissions test results. As a result of the investigation, Volkswagen agreed to pay a $3.5 million civil penalty to Iowa and avoid future violations. In addition, a series of settlements with the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resource Board and private plaintiffs resulted in cash payments to customers and other terms, including the creation of the Environmental Mitigation Fund to support environmental programs throughout the country to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

The draft plan was developed with the help of a public survey taken from February to April 2017. More than 500 respondents completed the survey and many others sent comments via email and letters. All 10 eligible mitigation actions received support from the public, with many requests to use the funds for school bus replacements, specifically for buses using alternative fuel sources. The public was also overwhelmingly in favor of funding zero-emissions infrastructure for light-duty electric vehicles.

 Iowa has combined the eligible mitigation actions into five categories and has established a target percentage of VW funds to be spend on each category:

  •  Class 4-8 buses: 45 percent 
  •  Freight and port drayage trucks: 15 percent
  • Non-road transport and equipment: 10 percent
  •  Zero-emission vehicle infrastructure: 15 percent
  • Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant: 15 percent


More details about each category are outlined in the plan. These categories are geared to achieve significant, quantifiable reductions in nitrogen oxides (NOx) and maximize cost effectiveness while adhering to the settlement requirements.

Once the public comment period for the draft plan has closed, the comments will be reviewed and considered for incorporation into the final version. The Iowa DOT anticipates there will be three application cycles for project funding after the plan is finalized. You will be able to find details on the project funding cycles on the Iowa DOT’s Volkswagen settlement website once they have been determined. You may also wish to sign up for email updates on the progress of this initiative on this site.

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