April 11, 2018 04:47 PM
The state Pollution Control Agency has finalized plans for the first phase of money to come in from a federal settlement with Volkswagen that resulted from its emissions scandal.
The final plan for how to use "Phase 1" of the incoming $47 million will be submitted to the trustee in charge of managing the funds nationally, according to the MPCA's website.
The state will manage the funds through five grant programs with the goal of reducing nitrogen oxide, fine particle and greenhouse gas emissions, the agency's website says. The first phase will span years 2018-19.
"We will be using these dollars to undo the emissions that should have been clean that were coming out of Volkswagens," MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine said.
Phase 1 money, amounting to 25 percent of the total, or $11.75 million, will be used to replace larger, older and dirtier diesel equipment and vehicles:
The money is available as grants that local governments and private businesses may apply to use. Stine said the grants awarded will not cover the entire cost to replace a piece of equipment or vehicle.
"We're giving them enough of an incentive to buy into new equipment or new engine designs of their own," Stine said.
The total award will be distributed in three phases over 10 years. Forty percent of the money will target projects in greater Minnesota, officials say.
"The MPCA has been committed to developing a plan that benefits all Minnesotans and reflects the needs and desires of people across the state," the agency's website says. "The agency solicited input statewide for more than a year. … The plan reflects that input along with data, technical analyses, and the experience of MPCA staff."
Clean air advocates like Bill Droessler said the settlement is "an enormous opportunity" for the state.
"It would take decades to reach this level of work that the Pollution Control Agency will be able to do in four or five years," Stine said referencing the settlement details.
Droessler said the plan ultimately benefits everyone across the state, even if they don't get a portion of the grant money.
"The bottom line is our air is going to get even cleaner, which means it's going to be healthier for people to breathe," Droessler said.
MPCA said it will begin advertising the grants in June.
Updated: April 11, 2018 04:47 PM
Created: April 11, 2018 11:14 AM
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