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Volkswagen Settlement

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The District of Columbia (Washington, DC) will receive $8.125 million as a result of the civil enforcement case, Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales, Practices, and Products Liability Litigation. The settlement stems from Volkswagen’s (VW) use of a defeat device in its light-duty diesel vehicles. These defeat devices allowed those vehicles to pass lab certified emissions tests, only to drastically exceed emissions standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) set by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when driven in real-world situations. The settlement funds are primarily intended to reduce NOx emissions from diesel vehicles.

Mayor Bowser designated DOEE as the lead agency to coordinate these NOx emissions mitigation projects with the VW settlement funds. DOEE has prioritized projects based on sustainability and long-term pollutant reduction goals, with a special consideration for projects that benefit all eight Wards, have the highest reductions in NOx emissions, and affect vulnerable populations and disadvantaged communities of the District.

The District’s implementation plan for the VW fund is outlined in DC’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan, which was updated in March, 2021. DOEE will be working on two main projects for these funds, and updates on each project can be found at the links below.

District Electrification And Low-NOx Program Locomotive Switcher Replacement Project

Together, these two projects are expected to reduce NOx in the District by up to 114 tons per year, fine particulate matter pollution by up to 4.1 tons per year, and greenhouse gases by up to 4,992 tons per year. These emissions reductions save the District millions of dollars annually in avoided health care costs and the avoided greenhouse gas emissions help to realize the District’s commitment to be carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2045.

DOEE has worked to ensure that plans for the VW funds have been informed by public participation and comment. Information on previous public engagement can be found here. No public meetings are scheduled at this time. However, you may reach out to Joseph Jakuta for information on DC’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

Email: Joseph Jakuta
Phone: (202) 535.2988
Written Correspondence:

Department of Energy and Environment
Attn: Joseph Jakuta, Air Quality Planning Branch Chief
1200 First Street NE, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002

DOEE will provide regular updates to the VW Trust as part of the Settlement Agreement. Updates to the Trust, along with other Trust documents, can be found below. DOEE will also submit semi-annual reports to the Trust beginning in 2020 and those reports will be made available on this page.

More Background on the VW Settlement, along with the Settlement Agreement, can be found below.

District Electrification And Low-NOX Program

The District Electrification And Low-NOX (DEAL) program will provide District government agencies with the means to overcome the high incremental cost of purchasing alternative fuel fleet. DC’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan allocated 62 percent of VW settlement funds (approximately $5.03 million) to the DEAL program projects. Any funds remaining available at the end of each fiscal year will be carried over to subsequent years until all funds are spent. DOEE may increase the funding allocation for the DEAL program in future years if funds allocated to other projects become available. Conversely, DOEE may reduce the funding allocation for the DEAL program if there is insufficient demand and move those VW funds to other projects.

More information on the DEAL program is available in DC’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

Update (January 2020): DOEE solicited project proposals for the DEAL program from sister agencies for replacing diesel transit buses or refuse trucks with electric vehicles, or replacing diesel refuse trucks with CNG vehicles. The DEAL program application period closed on July 24, 2019. DOEE received one proposal from DDOT for a project to replace older diesel Circulator transit buses with all-electric buses for routes that serve Wards 5, 7, and 8.

Update (March 2021): DOEE expanded the DEAL program using DERA funds in 2021. Approximately 6% of VW funds will be set aside for DEAL-DERA vehicle replacements, which leverages DERA funds along with fleet-owner contributions.

Locomotive Switcher Replacement Project

DC’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan allocated 28 percent of VW settlement funds (approximately $2.3 million) to upgrade and repower five (5) old diesel-powered switcher locomotives at the Union Station and Ivy City railyards with new, much cleaner diesel engines (or electric engines if the technology becomes viable) over a six-year period.

Switcher locomotives are engines that switch railcars or assemble trains in the railyard. The switcher locomotives at Union Station are high polluting sources because they operate every day (more than 8,000 hours per year); operate under high load conditions; are powered by diesel engines; and they are old – some switchers are over 50 years old. The switcher locomotives operate solely in the railyards that run between Ivy City and Union Station in Wards 5 and 6, respectively, which creates a local hotspot for NOx and other pollutant emissions. This investment is a very cost-effective way to reduce NOx emissions; this project alone will lead to approximately one percent reduction of total NOx emissions in DC.

More information on the project is available in DC’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

Update (January 2020): In September 2019, a sub-grant was awarded to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for coordinating the Locomotive Switcher project with Amtrak and DOEE. This project will be funded jointly by VW funds and the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant for up to 40 percent (approximately $2.6 million) of the total cost estimated at $6.5 million for the five switcher locomotives. Amtrak must contribute the remaining 60 percent (approximately $3.9 million) of the cost for this project. More details can be found in the Grant Award Notice.

Private Fleet Diesel Electrification and Low-NOX (PF-DEAL)

DC’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan allocated approximately nine percent of VW settlement funds to the PF-DEAL program. This program lowers the barrier for private fleets operating in overburdened communities with high community impacts to electrify their highway diesel vehicles (eg, buses).

Previous Public Engagement

  • Beneficiary Mitigation Plan: DOEE submitted The District of Columbia’s Spending Plan for Volkswagen Settlement Funds (Beneficiary Mitigation Plan) to Wilmington Trust on July 6, 2018.
  • Notice of Public Comment Period - Input on the District’s Use of Volkswagen Settlement Funds: The deadline for public comment on the Draft Spending Plan was March 12, 2018 at 5:00 pm. Read More.
  • Public Information Open House: This event was held at 4058 Minnesota Ave NE (Department of Employment Services Community Room #1) on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. The public had the opportunity to submit comments and provide input during the Open House.
  • Survey Results: DOEE held a SurveyMonkey regarding the proposed VW settlement projects and received a total of 170 responses. Please access the Survey Results Document, also in the attachments below.
  • RFI Public Response Summary: DOEE received a total of 16 responses for the first round of public engagement. This list does not include the survey results. Please access RFI Response Summary document, also in the attachments below.
  • Notice of Request for Information - Input on the District’s Use of Volkswagen Settlement Funds
    The deadline has passed for public input on the potential uses of the District’s Volkswagen settlement funds. The deadline for submitting responses was August 11, 2017. Read More.
  • Public Information Open House: This event took place on July 13, 2017. The public had the opportunity to submit comments and provide input during the Open House.
  • Public Information Open House: This event was held at 4058 Minnesota Ave NE (Department of Employment Services Community Room #1) on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. The public had the opportunity to submit comments and provide input during the Open House.

Volkswagen Clear Air Act Partial Settlement – Background

In two related settlements, German automaker Volkswagen AG (VW) has agreed to spend nearly $25 billion to settle allegations of cheating vehicle emissions tests and deceiving customers. VW’s use of a defeat device in its diesel vehicles enabled the vehicles to emit levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) significantly in excess of the limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NOx is a precursor to ozone formation and is also hazardous to human health. The automaker will spend $2.925 billion to mitigate the pollution from these diesel cars; $2 billion to invest in clean vehicle technology; and $10 billion in the vehicle recall program.

To mitigate the pollution of NOx emissions, VW will spend the $2.925 billion toward a Mitigation Trust, which will be allocated among the states. This total was determined by two partial settlements. The first settlement was geared towards 2.0 liter vehicles and required VW to pay $2.7 billion. The second partial settlement dealt with 3.0 liter vehicles and required VW to pay an additional $225 million.

More details on the partial settlements can be found here:

Electrify America

To invest in clean vehicle technology, Volkswagen will fund the $2 billion towards zero emission vehicle (ZEV) technology through VW’s company, Electrify America, Inc. The company will use these funds toward ZEV infrastructure, increased accessibility, and outreach and awareness initiatives.

Vehicle Recall Program

Under the vehicle recall program, VW has agreed to buy back, terminate leases early, and provide repairs for 2.0 liter and Generations 1 and 2 3.0 liter diesel vehicles. VW will also provide cash payments to diesel car owners/lessees.

More details of the case can be found here: