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New York governor to invest Volkswagen settlement in clean vehicles

The funds will provide for new electric buses and charging infrastructure

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the state will utilise the US$127.7 million received from the 2016 Volkswagen settlement to dramatically increase the number of electric vehicles and other clean vehicles in the state.

Covered vehicles include new buses, trucks, locomotives, ferries, tug boats, and cargo handling equipment, as well as the availability of EV charging equipment state-wide. At the governor’s direction, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, in concert with others, has developed Clean Transportation NY – New York’s plan to strategically invest settlement resources for maximum benefit and to build on New York’s national leadership on clean energy and climate change.

The funds were secured through the Attorney General’s settlement with Volkswagen in close collaboration with DEC. The state’s strategically leveraged investment of settlement funds is anticipated to result in at least US$300 million of clean vehicles and infrastructure on New York’s roadways.

“Combatting climate change and air pollution and protecting our environment is critical to the very future of this great state,” Cuomo said. “As Washington continues to roll back protections, New York is more committed than ever to supporting cleaner, greener transportation technologies. By strategically investing these settlement funds, we can take real action to improve community health and sustainability, while providing incentives to address one of the largest causes of harmful pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”

In October 2016, a federal judge approved a national settlement plan to address Volkswagen’s installation and use of devices in approximately 580,000 Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche vehicles that circumvented federal emissions standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx), one of the main contributors to smog and respiratory problems. The companies installed emissions control defeat device software in cars from model years 2009 through 2016, which allowed NOx emissions up to 40 times the certification standard.

With the support of the Attorney General’s Office, New York received US$127.7 million as part of this legal settlement. The state will invest these resources in projects to mitigate the impacts of VW’s air violations. Under Clean Transportation NY, the state will use these funds to maximise the reduction of emissions of NOx and other harmful pollutants, including greenhouse gases, particulate matter, and mobile source air toxics while also spurring investment in clean transportation infrastructure.

As part of its aggressive efforts to fight climate change, the state plans to use more than 60% of the funding to accelerate the adoption of electrified transportation by reducing the cost of electric buses and trucks, particularly transit buses, and providing funding for EV charging infrastructure.

In addition, New York will replace or re-power older, high-polluting diesel-powered trucks, school buses, and equipment with cleaner vehicles and equipment. The state will prioritise replacement of older, dirty vehicles and equipment with emission-free electric versions and will fund replacement with other new, much lower-emitting technologies that would provide substantially greater emission reductions for the funding available.

Additional Clean Transportation NY investments will fund EV charging infrastructure to support and encourage the growth of all-electric ground support equipment at airports and light-duty, on-road all-electric vehicles throughout the state.

The mitigation plan will also bolster the state’s Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) programme, which requires vehicle manufacturers to research, develop, and market EVs that will have zero tailpipe emissions.

Cuomo’s aggressive actions to support EV sales and infrastructure have already increased the number of electric vehicles sold in New York 67% from 2016 to 2017.

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