By Sharon Aron Baron
In the state’s efforts to modernize public transit and reduce air pollutants caused by diesel emissions, Governor Ron DeSantis celebrated another step Through a settlement with Volkswagen on Monday.
The Department of Environmental Protection is awarding more than $68 million that will secure 227 electric transit buses in 13 counties statewide that will replace existing diesel transit buses in Alachua, Broward, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, and Pinellas counties.
“This funding will help lower emissions while also bringing our transit bus fleets to more modern standards,” saidGovernor Ron DeSantis. “This is a win-win for air quality and advancing the state’s efforts to bolster growing electric vehicle usage.”
In addition to today’s announced electric transit bus grant awards, DEP has also awarded grants to seven school districts to purchase a total of 218 electric school buses in Broward, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties.
In October 2016, Volkswagen settled with the U.S. government resolving claims that it violated the Clean Air Act by selling diesel vehicles that violated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mobile source emission standards.
The violation involved installing and using emission testing “defeat devices” in approximately 500,000 turbocharged direct injection (TDI) 2.0-liter diesel engine vehicles sold and operated in the United States from 2009 through 2015.
In May 2017, VW entered into a second settlement with the U.S. government resolving additional claims that it violated the Clean Air Act by selling approximately 80,000 TDI 3.0-liter diesel engines also equipped with defeat devices. In turn, VW has agreed to provide roughly $16 billion to buy back or install pollution control equipment for at least 85% of the 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter TDI engines; a $2 billion investment to promote the use of zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, and $2.925 billion to fully remediate the excess NOx emissions that were emitted by the approximately 500,000 2.0-liter and 80,000 3.0-liter vehicles equipped with defeat devices.
“Florida continues to be a national leader in air quality and is proud to be the most populous state in the nation to have met all of EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Through collaboration with partner agencies and the private sector, we are able to implement projects to protect air quality and support the needs of our communities.”
These projects and others result from DEP’s Florida Beneficiary Mitigation Plan, which was created to outline how the state would spend its allotted $166 million from the Volkswagen settlement.
The plan focused on constructing new electric vehicle charging stations, procuring electric buses for select school districts and transit agencies, and providing funding for Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) projects.
Through Florida’s settlement allotment, DEP has awarded grants to install 150 electric vehicle charging stations along the state highway system and several DERA grants to reduce emissions in and around the state’s ports.
These projects include marine engine replacements, an electric freight switch, and port cargo handling equipment.
- Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.
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