Condemns Recent Dedication of Volkswagen Settlement Fund to Diesel-Powered Buses
Hartford, Conn. – The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) is concerned about the recent announcement regarding the second round of grants from the $6 million in Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds. While a small portion of funding will go to electric vehicles, over $4.7 million will replace pollution and greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles with more diesel and fossil fuel-powered ones.
"Diesel emissions contribute directly to Connecticut’s notoriously bad air quality and high asthma rates," said Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV. "When VW cheated on their emissions test, the settlement they signed with our state and others was intended to minimize the impacts of diesel fumes. Unfortunately, the majority of the second round of grant funds will go toward replacing old diesel-powered buses with more diesel. While we are glad to see the state take some first steps toward electric vehicles, we are missing a huge opportunity to fully commit to electric vehicles. By replacing old diesel-powered vehicles with new ones, Connecticut is only halfheartedly protecting the air we breathe."
While the majority of the VW settlement funds were directed toward more diesel and gas-powered vehicles, CTLCV with the assistance of the Rockfall Foundation supported the successful grant application of Dattco to replace a diesel school bus in Middletown with an electric bus. CTLCV has been working to replace dirty diesel school buses with clean electric vehicles part of its Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign. Investing the VW funds in electric school buses will help our children—particularly those in low-income communities and communities of color—by limiting their exposure to toxic fumes.
“Asthma rates and other respiratory diseases are dramatically on the rise in Connecticut, particulary in low-income communities and communities of color,” said CTLCV Middletown Organizer Jeff Hush. “When kids struggle to breathe, they can miss class and fall behind. Cleaning up the air they breathe is critical to giving them every opportunity to succeed. We hope this electric school bus will be the first of many.”
The $6 million came from a 2015 scandal in which the German automaker violated the Clean Air Act by intentionally programming their vehicles to only activate their emission control systems during laboratory emissions testing. Out of the resulting settlement, Volkswagen is to pay $2 billion for clean-emissions infrastructure, of which Connecticut receives $6 million.
“Electrifying our school buses and other public transit must be a top priority to protect our public health,” said Brown. “We sincerely hope the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Lamont Adminsitration will provide additional resources to support every effort to clean up our air and our public fleet.”
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