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Air Quality Program

VW - Federal settlement funds

Through a series of settlements, EPA has resolved their civil enforcement case against Volkswagen (VW) for violating the federal Clean Air Act.

VW violated the federal Clean Air Act by manufacturing diesel vehicles with software installed that cheated emissions tests by only turning on the vehicle’s emission control systems when the car was being tested.

EPA and Volkswagen have entered into multiple settlement agreements that affect all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and tribes. Washington must apply to receive $112.7 million and develop a plan on how to use the settlement monies to reduce diesel pollution.

pie chart of Mitigation Funds

Washington to receive $112.7 million

Volkswagen has agreed to pay about $3 billion into a trust that will be used to pay for past, present, and future harm caused by the excess nitrogen oxide emissions released by the affected vehicles. All 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and tribes may apply to become beneficiaries of trust funds. Each approved beneficiary will receive a specific amount of money based on the number of affected vehicles registered in their area. We estimate that there are 24,000 affected vehicles registered in Washington and therefore are eligible for $112.7 million.

Applying to become a state beneficiary

Washington must become a beneficiary before receiving trust funds. The court appointed Wilmington Trust as the Mitigation Fund trustee on March 15, 2017. The trustee will have oversight over the funds and how they are administered. The Federal Court established a Trust Effective Date of October 2, 2017. Ecology applied for Certified Beneficiary status on Nov. 15, 2017. The Trustee will file a list of approved beneficiaries by January 29, 2018. Once approved, beneficiaries can request funds.

Timeline of events
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How the funds can be used

States and tribes will need to develop Mitigation Plans that show how the funds will be used. The money can be used in a variety of ways to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution from vehicles but must meet the requirements in the settlement agreement. Eligible vehicles and equipment may be replaced or repowered with new diesel engines, alternate fueled engines (compressed natural gas, propane, or hybrid), or all-electric engines.
Eligible vehicles and equipment include:

  • Class 8 local freight trucks and port drayage trucks.
  • Class 4-8 school/shuttle/transit buses.
  • Freight switcher locomotives.
  • Ferries/tugboats.
  • Shorepower for ocean going vessels.
  • Class 4-7 local trucks.
  • Airport ground support equipment.
  • Forklifts and cargo handling equipment at ports.
  • Light duty zero emission vehicle supply equipment (limited to 15% of funds).
  • Matching funds for projects eligible under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA).

The settlement agreement also set parameters on what percentage of the monies can be spent on ZEV infrastructure and equipment. As shown in the pie chart, up to $16.9 million can be spent on those types of projects.
More details about the use of trust funds are found in Appendix D-2 of the settlement agreement.

Background on settlement agreements

Through a series of settlements, EPA and California have resolved their civil enforcement case against VW for violating the federal Clean Air Act. The settlements state that VW must:

  • Provide consumer relief to owners of vehicles that failed to meet federal emissions standards.
  • Invest in and develop zero emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure.
  • Deposit funds into a mitigation trust for states and tribes to offset excess nitrogen oxide emissions from the vehicles.

Three Volkswagen settlements

View an enlarged version of the above poster in the following languages:

Consumer relief

There are approximately 590,000 affected 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel vehicles in the nation. About 24,000 of the vehicles are registered in Washington. Consumer remedies include buy backs, repairs, and cash settlements, depending on the engine size and pollution control equipment installed.

For more information about consumer relief visit the Volkswagen website.

Zero emission vehicle infrastructure

As part of the 2.0 liter partial settlement, VW will invest $2 billion over the next 10 years in ZEV infrastructure. These monies are separate from the $112.7 million in trust funds that Washington is eligible for.

VW has established Electrify America (EA), LLC to manage these investments. Of the $2 billion for ZEV infrastructure, EA will invest $800 million in California and $1.2 billion throughout the rest of the nation. EA will provide opportunities for public input on the type and locations of the ZEV projects.

Washington and Oregon jointly submitted a proposal to EA recommending ZEV infrastructure projects in our states. Seattle and Portland were two of the metropolitan areas selected for Cycle 1 funding. During this first cycle, EA will invest $300 million across the country. Examples of ZEV investment projects include:

  • Electric vehicle charging stations at multi-unit dwellings, workplaces, and public sites.
  • Electric vehicle fast charging stations available to all vehicles using non-proprietary connectors.
  • Brand-neutral community outreach to increase awareness of ZEVs.

Visit EPA's website to learn more about this part of the settlement.

Mitigation trust fund details

Volkswagen must pay about $3 billion into a trust that will be used to pay for past, present, and future harm caused by the excess nitrogen oxides emissions released by the vehicles. States, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and tribes may apply to be beneficiaries. Each approved beneficiary will receive a specific amount of funds based on the number of affected vehicles registered in their area.

After being deemed a Beneficiary, states must submit a Mitigation Plan not less than 30 days prior to submitting its first funding request. The plan should summarize how they intend to use the funds. Beneficiaries will have 10 years from the Trust Effective Date to implement the plan and spend the funds. Tribal beneficiaries will have six years from the Trust Effective Date to spend their funds.

The trustee has 120 days from the Trust Effective Date, or until January 29, 2018, to file a list of all beneficiary applicants. After the trustee approves an applicant as a beneficiary, and the beneficiary has submitted their mitigation plan, they can begin requesting funds from the trustee. Funds should be available about six months after the Trust Effective Date. Beneficiaries can spend up to one-third of their funds within the first year or up to two-thirds during the first two years. All funds must be spent within 10 years.

Unused money will be redistributed among beneficiaries that have used at least 80% of their trust funds. These additional funds must be used within five years.

Under the 2.0 and 3.0 liter settlements, Washington is eligible to receive a total of $112.7 million to mitigate emissions from the nearly 24,000 affected vehicles in Washington. The governor has designated Ecology to manage the funds. Ecology will partner with the Department of Transportation to select projects in accordance with "Results Washington's" goal of 50,000 electric vehicles by 2020.

Public comment period open for Draft Mitigation Plan

Washington's Draft Mitigation Plan is open for public comment from 10 a.m., Nov. 16 through 9 a.m., Dec. 19, 2017.

  • View the plan
  • Submit comments online
  • Mail comments to: Brett Rude, Department of Ecology, Air Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600

More details about the Mitigation Trust Fund are found in Appendix D-2 of the final mitigation trust agreements.

Translated documents

An overview of the federal settlement is now available in the following languages:

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Ecology is dedicated to keeping you informed as the settlement progresses.
Sign up for our listserv to receive important updates, notices of stakeholder meetings and webinars via email.

For questions about the settlement, please email us.

For more information, visit:

Volkswagen partial consent decree
VW/Audi diesel emissions settlement program
VW Clean Air Act partial settlement

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