Washington’s Department of Ecology has a plan to spend nearly $113 million on cleaner transportation technologies.
The money is part of the state’s settlement with Volkswagen after the German car manufacturer was caught installing illegal software on many of its diesel vehicles to cheat on emissions tests.
Drivers in Washington state registered about 24,000 of the cheating vehicles. The money Volkswagen is providing is based on that number. It’s meant to be used on technologies to offset the emissions that would have come from those cars.
“But I think we can go well beyond just mitigating what already happened by spending this smartly and in the right places,” said Stu Clark, the air quality program manager for the state Department of Ecology, which developed the spending plan.
The plan prioritizes electrifying heavier vehicles such as buses, freight trucks and ferries. And up to about $17 million could be spent on electric charging stations.
Clark says the state is also looking at ways to leverage the spending and leapfrog to cleaner technologies that would last for 50 or 100 years.
“Huge public health benefits, environmental benefits and climate benefits can come out of this. We’ve never had this kind of financial opportunity, in Washington anyway, to make this kind of difference,” Clark said.
The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gases in Washington state. Ecology says this plan will help the state make significant strides toward improving air quality.
The plan is open for comment for 30 days. Clark says he hopes the spending can begin in late spring.