In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a complaint against Volkswagen alleging that they violated the Clean Air Act. During normal operation and use, the vehicles emitted levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) significantly in excess of EPA’s compliance levels
Volkswagen was found guilty and agreed to pay up to $14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating emissions. As part of the lawsuit, Volkswagen is required to establish and fund an Environmental Mitigation Trust, known as EMT. Over the next 10 years, $2.9 billion from the VW settlement will fund environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of NOx.
This money will be deposited in a trust and allocated among state beneficiaries. Each state receives a set amount based on the number of affected vehicles sold in the state. Eligible projects include class 4-8 school bus, shuttle bus — and transit bus replacement.
Transit buses fueled by propane autogas are an ideal fit for EMT funding due to their environmental and economical benefits.
Propane reduces harmful emissions, especially NOx, when compared to conventional fuels. According to the World LP Gas Association, propane emits 96% less NOx than conventional diesel and 68% less NOx than gasoline. When compared to conventional diesel, vehicles fueled by propane emit 80% fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons and virtually eliminate particulate matter when compared with conventional diesel.
Across the globe, more than 26 million vehicles run on propane autogas. In the transit industry, there are almost 1,000 shuttles equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane system operating across the nation, including Delaware Transit Corp., Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Florida’s LeeTran, and San Diego Metropolitan Transit (MTS).
For more than 30 years, the cost of propane autogas has been, on average, 30% to 40% less than the cost of gasoline and up to 50% less than diesel. For example, the Delaware Transit Corp. pays $.78 per gallon for propane compared with $1.75 per gallon for gasoline to fuel its fleet of paratransit buses. MTS is saving about $5.8 million over the five- to seven-year lifecycle of the agency’s 77 paratransit shuttles and mini-buses. And Detroit’s Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation is saving almost $2 million with its 77 propane shuttles.
Propane autogas is a nontoxic, non-carcinogenic and non-corrosive fuel, which is an approved alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act. Currently, more than 90% of U.S. propane supplies come from domestic production, making propane an abundant, readily available alternative to imported oil.
EMT funds will be available once the Trustee effective date is established, the state beneficiaries have been named, the state files its mitigation plan, and the Trustee approves the plan. It’s estimated this will occur as soon as early 2018. Once plans are approved, the state then has 10 years to allocate funds.
What can you do? Learn who your state’s fund beneficiary is, and send a letter expressing your views on how EMT funding should be used.
You can also visit ROUSHcleantech.com/Volkswagen-Settlement for EMT funding updates.
Todd Mouw is VP, sales and marketing for ROUSH Clean Tech.