April 04, 2020
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Maine to tap VW settlement cash to try to cut emissions

GABOR DEGRE | BDN
GABOR DEGRE | BDN
Tourists walk around at the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park as the sun breaks through the haze in the sky.

Maine’s portion of the Volkswagen settlement money will go toward increasing the state’s use of zero-emissions vehicles, lowering emissions from ports and railyards, infrastructure like charging stations and grants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

The state is getting about $21 million of the $14.7 billion settlement Volkswagen is paying after it was charged with putting devices in some of its diesel vehicles that allowed it to “cheat” on emissions tests.

Judy Gates is the director of the Department of Transportation’s environmental office, which is administering the settlement money. She said under a draft plan, the grants will go to both public and private entities, based on how much they’ll reduce emissions per dollar spent.

“Bang for the buck in terms of Maine’s air quality is pretty much the primary factor,” she said.

There are limits to how “private” an entity can be, according to Gates.

“Personal vehicles will not be eligible as projects for the settlement funds. On the other hand, if you have a lobster boat which is a commercial vehicle, you might be eligible for this money,” she said.

The projects could include things like mass transit, replacing school buses or replacing a ferry engine.

The plan’s not final — it’s available for public comment now at the DOT’s website, and a final version will have to be approved by Gov. Paul LePage.

This report appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.


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