Request for Public Comment Regarding Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust

In 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved the Trust Agreement settling claims by the United States against German automaker, Volkswagen Group (VW). The civil complaint filed against VW claimed that the automaker installed software in its 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel engine vehicles to disable emission controls under normal use and to turn on emission controls only when the vehicle was being tested.  This “defeat device” was designed to show better real world fuel mileage and driving performance, but in reality resulted in the release of thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in excess of roughly 40 times the amounts allowed under the U.S. Clean Air Act regulated limits. As part of a multi-billion dollar settlement, the United States v. Volkswagen Group of America et al., requires VW to pay $2.925 billion into an independently administered Environmental Mitigation Trust, which will fund projects to reduce diesel emissions. The Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement for State beneficiaries provides a list of the mitigation projects eligible for funding.

The Environmental Mitigation Trust fund is distributed among states, territories, and federally recognized Indian Tribes based on the proportion of affected VW diesel vehicles registered in each jurisdiction. The Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) has been designated by Gov. David Ige to serve as the Lead Agency on behalf of Hawaii as a beneficiary, and the Hawaii State Energy Office within DBEDT will administer Hawaii’s $8.125 million Environmental Mitigation Trust allocation, including the determination and execution of the eligible mitigation projects to be funded by the Trust. The Settlement requires Trust funds to be allocated towards projects that replace or retrofit medium and heavy-duty vehicles or equipment with cleaner options. Additionally, up to 15% of the funds can be used to install electric vehicle charging stations around the state.

The Hawaii State Energy Office has developed the following online questionnaire to solicit and consider public input, prior to the filing of its Beneficiary Mitigation Plan regarding Hawaii’s utilization of its Trust fund allocation. Public input submissions are for the purpose of gathering initial input on how these funds could be used and will be considered and incorporated as practicable. Names and identifying information, if provided in the optional responses below, will be kept confidential. All submitted comments will be aggregated and made available as a public resource.

More information about the settlement can be found at Volkswagen Settlement Overview.