Volkswagen Settlement

In late 2015, Volkswagen (VW) publicly admitted it had secretly and deliberately installed a defeat device - software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators - in nearly 500,000 VW and Audi branded 2.0-liter diesel vehicles and 83,000 3.0-liter diesel vehicles sold to American consumers.

Through a series of three partial settlements, EPA resolved their civil enforcement case against VW. As a result of these partial settlements, Rhode Island was allocated approximately $14.4 million for use towards offsetting the excess NOx emissions caused by VW's actions through extensive mitigation projects to reduce NOx from a wide array of mobile sources.

Environmental Mitigation Trust:
In March 2017, the Court appointed Wilmington Trust, N.A. as Trustee of the Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT), and in October 2017, the Court approved two Trust Agreements for Beneficiaries: one for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ("State Trust Agreement"), and one for the separate allocation for federally recognized Indian tribes in the U.S.

The State of Rhode Island ("the State") officially became a beneficiary of the EMT on January 30, 2018, allowing the State to fund Eligible Mitigation Actions (EMAs), as defined in the First Partial Consent Decree and State Trust Agreement, that comply with the State's Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP).

Rhode Island's Beneficiary Mitigation Plan:
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has released a final Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) for implementing the State’s initial allocation of $14,368,857.94 from the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement (VW Settlement) EMT. The purpose of the EMT is to execute environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

A draft BMP was released to the public on May 10, 2018. An information session on the proposed BMP was held on Thursday, May 17, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Rhode Island College. The public had the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal via email to DEM's Office of Air Resources through June 11, 2018. View comments received on the BMP.

The State's final BMP may now be accessed here: State of Rhode Island’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

Project Implementation:
DEM will allocate dollars into two main categories designed to implement projects that reduce NOx emissions.

The BMP and all documentation and records submitted by the State in support of each funding request to the Trustee will be available to the public. The Trustee maintains a webpage that contains current and historical information and reports concerning eligible mitigation actions in Rhode Island.

Project Implementation Updates:
You can find complete funding request information including documentation from Rhode Island and the Trustee, required semi-annual reports and estimates of remaining fund balance here: vwenvironmentalmitigationtrust.com/state-trust/rhode-island

DEM is proposing to expand Rhode Island’s Volkswagen Beneficiary Mitigation Plan to include environmental mitigation action (EMA) #10, the “DERA Option”, which allows beneficiaries to use trust funds for their non-federal voluntary match on state Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grants. The Department is proceeding with a public comment period to request public input on the proposed expansion of the plan. The approved DERA workplan is attached. At minimum, all voluntary state match funds ($338,537 from the interest earned on the VW account) will be dedicated to school bus electrification project(s). The Department’s proposed expansion of the plan will allow for support of school bus electrification project(s) while the overall goal for the use of funds will remain the same as outlined in the August 2018 Rhode Island Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP).

You may submit your comments by email to Madeline Haines at Madeline.Haines@dem.ri.gov with the subject line “Expanded RI VW BMP”. Comments will be accepted through August 31, 2021. Thank you for your assistance in helping DEM maintain a Volkswagen Beneficiary Mitigation Plan that best meets the needs of Rhode Island.

In the News:

For further information, contact Allison.Archambault@dem.ri.gov at 401-222-2808 x2035