PA’s Volkswagen Settlement Money To Go Toward Cleaner Vehicles, Engines

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AMY SISK / STATEIMPACT PENNSYLVANIA Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, announces "Driving PA Forward," an initiative to use Volkswagen settlement money for cleaner vehicles and engines. He and other state and local officials, as well as business leaders, spoke Thursday surrounded by clean vehicles and machinery at an American Natural Energy Centre in Cheswick.

STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Pennsylvania will use the $118 million it received in a settlement with Volkswagen to fund grants and rebates for cleaner vehicles and engines.

The money comes to the state after the German automaker programmed diesel vehicles to cheat emissions tests and reached a $14.7-billion settlement with the federal government. Most is going toward buying back vehicles and compensating owners, but some is going into a trust that divvies up the money to states.

In Pennsylvania, funds will go toward buying new engines or retrofitting old ones.

A school district could apply for money to purchase an electric school bus, for example, or a trucking company could seek funds for alternative-fuel engines for its fleet.

“To lessen pollution in our communities, we need to think differently about how our society powers transportation, and that’s what this program is about,” said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

McDonnell was joined by other state and local officials, as well as business representatives, to make the announcement Thursday in Cheswick near Pittsburgh at an American Natural Energy Centre, a facility that supplies clean fuel. The funding will be available for five years and could go toward a variety of vehicles and other methods of transportation. DEP is calling the program “Driving PA Forward.”

Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the Department of Health, said the money will particularly help economically depressed areas that lack funds to make these changes.

“We are not only building the economics of these communities, but giving them the tools they need to make significant changes in their health outcomes,” she said. “In the end, that helps us all breathe a little easier.”

Emissions from diesel-powered engines contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses.

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