Frequently Asked Questions

Volkswagen Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust – State of Hawaii

These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pertain only to Hawaii’s participation as a Beneficiary of the Environmental Mitigation Trust. For general information about the Volkswagen (VW) Settlement please visit our Additional Resources page.


What is the Environmental Mitigation Trust?
The Environmental Mitigation Trust Per is one segment of the larger VW Settlement intended to mitigate the environmental damage caused by emissions from the non-compliant VW vehicles. The Settlement requires VW to invest $2.925 billion in an Environmental Mitigation Trust to fund projects (Eligible Mitigation Actions) to reduce diesel emissions primarily from medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The Eligible Mitigation Actions will be proposed and administered by the Beneficiaries subject to the requirements of the Settlement and Trust Agreement. The goal of each Eligible Mitigation Action shall be to achieve reductions of nitrous oxides (NOx) emissions in the United States from the transportation sector and collectively mitigate the total, lifetime excess emissions, mainly NOx, generated by the non-compliant VW vehicles while on the road. NOx is the major excess pollutant from these vehicles and is a significant health concern.

Who are beneficiaries of the Environmental Mitigation Trust?
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and federally recognized Indian tribes are eligible to become beneficiaries of the Trust and will be responsible for administering their respective Trust allocations, which are based upon the number of non-compliant vehicles sold in that jurisdiction.

How much money is available to Hawaii?
As an eligible beneficiary under the Environmental Mitigation Trust, the State of Hawaii has been allocated $8,125,000.

The allocations of each eligible beneficiary are determined by the number of non-compliant model year 2009-2016 VW vehicles sold in the beneficiary’s jurisdiction. Hawaii, along with a handful of smaller states, received the minimum allocation of $8.125 million from the VW settlement. Additional funds could be added to Hawaii’s allocation in the event not all eligible beneficiaries qualify to receive their allocation and/or if beneficiaries fail to expend their entire allocations within 10 years as provided by the Trust.

When will funds be available?
Hawaii can submit funding requests 30 days after the Plan has been approved by the Trustee.

What is the project schedule for implementation of the plan?
Per the settlement, beneficiaries may submit requests for Eligible Mitigation Action funding any time after Trustee approval of the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan by filing a Beneficiary Eligible Mitigation Action Certification form (Appendix D-4) with the Trustee. Within 60 days after receipt of each Appendix D-4 funding request, the Trustee shall (i) approve; (ii) deny; (iii) request modifications; or (iv) request further information of any funding request that meets the requirements of the State Trust Agreement and its appendices.

How long does Hawaii have to access and spend allocated Trust funds?
Hawaii will have until October 3, 2027, to spend its allocation of the Trust and implement mitigation actions.

How does Hawaii plan to spend its allocated Trust funds?

HSEO developed the following allocation of trust funds to three Eligible Mitigation Action categories that will be appropriate to achieve the goals of the trust:

  • $4.15 million, or 51 percent of Trust Funds, to projects which electrify Class 4-8 School Buses, Shuttle Buses, or Transit Buses (Environmental Mitigation Action #2)
  • $2.75 million, or 34 percent of Trust Funds, to projects eligible under the federal Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant program (Environmental Mitigation Action #10)
  • $1.22 million, or 15 percent of Trust Funds, to support projects which facilitate the deployment of Light Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Supply Equipment (Environmental Mitigation Action #9)

Will funds be available for each county?
HSEO is proposing to distribute Trust funds to county and/or state agencies based on their readiness to facilitate public transit or school bus electrification projects (battery electric buses). The demonstrated ability to sustainably operate, store, and maintain these projects over the long term is a consideration as well. The timing of electric bus procurement will be coordinated with state and county agencies depending on their readiness. The priority is to work with government fleets. If, however, circumstances necessitate, the battery electric program will explore private fleets.

Why invest Trust funds in battery electric buses and electric vehicle charging equipment?

In addition to fully mitigating the excess lifetime NOx emissions of the VW vehicles subject to the Settlement, the State of Hawaii’s overall goal for the funds is to support projects which will aid the State in meeting many of Hawaii’s clean energy goals including supporting “the ultimate elimination of Hawaii’s dependence on imported fuels in ground transportation.” To support this goal, HSEO will prioritize Eligible Mitigation Actions that will make a transformational investment in Hawaii’s clean energy economy with special emphasis on projects that facilitate the adoption and deployment of EVs. Accelerating the adoption of EVs will reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and serve as a high-visibility catalyst in advancing Hawaii’s leadership in decarbonization of the electric and ground transportation sector.

When will the first electric buses be in operation?

The Hawaii State Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch (DOH-CAB) submitted project proposals for 2017/2018 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funds, which will provide up to 45 percent of the cost to replace two government-owned heavy-duty diesel vehicles (such as transit buses, school buses, or shuttle buses) with battery electric buses. HSEO proposes to leverage $2,750,000 of VW Trust funds to provide a state match for DOH-CAB’s DERA projects.

Vehicles replaced through the DERA 2017/2018 program must be purchased by September 30, 2019.

Will school bus replacements be considered as a viable project under the settlement?

Hawaii’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan is proposing two programs dedicated to electrifying Class 4-8 School Buses, Shuttle Buses, or Transit Buses. One of the programs, the DERA program, supports projects that protect human health and improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines. Under the DERA program, old diesel school buses are eligible to be replaced with low-emitting alternatives, such as battery electric buses.

Is Hawaii going to use the maximum allowed by the Settlement for EV Charging?
Beneficiaries are allowed to use up to 15 percent of funding for light duty ZEV supply equipment. HSEO plans to allocate 15 percent or $1,218,750 of its Trust fund allocation on the costs necessary for, and directly connected to, the acquisition, installation, operation and maintenance of new EV charging stations, for projects described in Action #9: Light Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Supply Equipment.

Does the Plan include DC fast charging stations? 
DBEDT supports a near term investment in both level 2 and fast charging infrastructure.

How will the State of Hawaii consider the potential benefit of the selected projects on the air quality in areas with disproportionate air pollution in Hawaii?
Per the Trust, the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan must describe how each Beneficiary will consider the potential beneficial impact of the selected Eligible Mitigation Actions on air quality in areas that bear a disproportionate share of the air pollution burden within its jurisdiction.

Although the available State of Hawaii data shows there are no regions within Hawaii that do not meet air quality standards, there are some lower-income census tracts located within the areas showing higher levels of NOx. While deployment location will ultimately determine how the Eligible Mitigation Actions impact air quality in those locations, HSEO estimates to expend nearly 70 percent of its Trust allocation on Eligible Mitigation Actions supporting the electrification of public transit, school buses, or government-owned transportation fleets that may be utilized by historically disadvantaged communities and densely populated regions regardless of deployment location.

How can the public provide comments or questions?
Members of the public and other stakeholders may submit comments or questions to HSEO at any time by emailing [email protected]. Public input was considered in the final Beneficiary Mitigation Plan submitted to the Trustee.

What kind of public comments have been received?
HSEO gathered public comment in February 2018, on a range of eligible mitigation actions outlined in the settlement between Volkswagen and the federal government. Commenters offered their perspectives on the eligible actions through a questionnaire posted on the HSEO website.

A total of 149 questionnaire responses were received from Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island, Kauai, and the U.S. mainland. Respondents were asked to list the top three categories of eligible mitigation actions Hawaii should consider for the VW trust funding. The highest-ranking category was buses (school, shuttle or transit), which was supported by 89 percent of respondents. The category of local freight trucks and port drayage trucks was supported by 66 percent of respondents, and the category of light duty zero emissions vehicle charging equipment was supported by 57 percent of respondents.

Will DBEDT provide updates for Hawaii’s engagement?
During Plan implementation, HSEO will monitor Trust funds and each funding request will be made available on HSEO’s VW settlement webpage. The funding requests will be posted chronologically by the date they were submitted to the Trustee.

DBEDT will maintain the webpage for the duration of the Trust exclusively for its Trust activities:, under the Testbeds & Initiatives – Hawaii VW Environmental Mitigation Trust webpage, .   Hawaii’s engagement will also be tracked on

Does HSEO plan to solicit proposals for the VW settlement funds?
While HSEO is not requesting project proposals at this time, comments or input can be submitted at any time by emailing [email protected].

How can I be added to the mailing list for funding opportunities and updates regarding the VW Settlement?
If you would like to be added to the HSEO VW Settlement mailing list please submit your contact information here



For comments or questions about the Volkswagen Settlement, please contact the Hawaii State Energy Office at [email protected]