State Announces Grants to Reduce Vehicle Air Pollution

Funded by proceeds from Volkswagen diesel settlement

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced grant programs that will solicit projects utilizing $12.5 million of funding under the Volkswagen (VW) emissions case settlement and $500,000 from other clean air funds to reduce emissions from vehicles and non-road equipment and promote electrification of the state’s transportation network.

“Investing in electric vehicles and electric vehicle infrastructure in cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth will help us build a cleaner, more resilient transportation system,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grant programs will bring benefits like cleaner air, better technologies, and a safer work environment to people across Massachusetts.”

“Launching these new grant programs will help the Commonwealth continue to transform our transportation system,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Massachusetts is wisely taking these funds and investing them in boosting the adoption of electric vehicles, improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) grant programs – a $7.5 million Open Solicitation Grant Program and a $5.5 million Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) – are part of a multi-phase approach the Commonwealth is taking to spend its $75 million share of the $2.925 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust established under the 2016 settlement between VW and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In the first phase, the Commonwealth will also use $11 million in funding to replace diesel buses with electric transit buses for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority and the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority.

The grant announcement follows a year-long process to develop a plan to spend the Commonwealth’s VW funding over the settlement’s 15-year timeframe. MassDEP held 10 public meetings with key stakeholders in the environmental, industry, and nonprofit arenas across Massachusetts from January to March, 2018, resulting in the release of a draft Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) for public comment in July 2018. The final BMP was released December 7, 2018.

“We held Volkswagen accountable for deceiving thousands of Massachusetts residents into buying their dirty cars that polluted our air, and then lying to regulators about their misconduct,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “These grant programs will help us move to a cleaner transportation future by supporting the growing number of electric vehicles on our roads and by making reductions in unhealthy air pollution in communities across the state.”

“The recently finalized VW Mitigation Plan helps us work toward our goals of climate change mitigation, technological advancement, and equity,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “By helping to replace high-pollution vehicles with low-emissions alternatives, as well as putting the infrastructure in place to ensure the reliability of electric vehicles, we are proud to continue our progress addressing greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector.”

Under the $7.5 million Open Solicitation Grant Program, applicants may apply for up to $500,000 in competitive funding to replace either an older medium-duty or heavy-duty diesel vehicle or a piece of non-road equipment with an equivalent new diesel, alternate fuel or electric version, or replace the engine of a diesel vehicle or non-road piece of equipment. Eligible on-road diesel vehicles include medium and large trucks, school buses, transit buses and shuttle buses with 2009 and older model year engines. Eligible non-road equipment includes cargo-handling equipment, forklifts, locomotive switchers and airport ground support equipment, as well as ferries and tug boats.

For those applicants that want to transition from diesel-powered vehicles or engines to electric vehicles or engines, the funding would also cover a large part of the cost to purchase and install electric vehicle supply equipment. Finally, funding to provide electric shore power for ocean-going vessels is also available. Applications for the Open Solicitation are due March 18, 2019. Interested applicants can find further information on the Open Solicitation here.

Under the $5.5 million expanded MassEVIP programs, applicants can apply for funding of up to $50,000 per address to install light-duty electric vehicle supply equipment for public fleets, workplaces, residents or the general public. Interested applicants can find further information on the MassEVIP programs here.

“The expansion of the very successful MassEVIP grants will allow us to support the burgeoning market for electric vehicles,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Hundreds of new electric vehicle charging stations will be installed across the state through these programs.”

Under the final BMP, the Commonwealth is committed to funding projects that:

  • Help Massachusetts achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets and reduce air pollution in the transportation sector;
  • Promote electrification of the state’s transportation network;
  • Drive technological and policy progress in air pollution mitigation and GHG emissions reduction in the transportation network;
  • Serve environmental justice populations; and
  • Promote equitable geographic distribution of the mitigation funds across the state.

In 2016, the federal Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts and several other states, sued VW for installing defeat devices – software that allowed certain model year VWs, Audis and Porsches to circumvent nitrogen oxide emission standards and emit more pollution that was legally allowed by federal and state regulations. As a result of the litigation, every state in the country received a share of the settlement based on the number of vehicles registered in the state and equipped with the software. More than 14,000 vehicles registered in Massachusetts contained defeat devices.

In addition to the federal lawsuit against VW, Massachusetts – through the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and MassDEP – led multi-state litigation against VW, resulting in settlements with the state that included significant consumer relief and the largest ever state environmental penalty of more than $20 million. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on