The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will hold two public meetings this month to solicit ideas on how the state should spend its $47 million share of the Volkswagen court settlement over the next 10 years.
The German carmaker agreed to pay $2.9 billion to settle a federal lawsuit over its sales of diesel cars that emit air pollution over the legal limit, and for cheating on emissions tests to hide the pollution. The affected vehicles, including 11,500 that were sold or leased in Minnesota, exceed federal emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx), a set of pollutants that harm public health and contribute to ozone or smog formation.
The $47 million is in addition to a consumer fraud claim against VW that Minnesota settled for $11.5 million.
The $2.9 billion settlement was approved by a federal court in California last October. Over the next decade, VW is required to pay the funds into an environmental mitigation trust fund, to be shared among the states, that must be used to offset excess air pollution caused by VW’s tampered cars.
At the meetings this month, the MPCA will explain the settlement and take input on how residents think Minnesota should use the money. According to the settlement agreement, it must be used to pay some or all of the cost to repower or replace eligible diesel-powered vehicles with new diesel, alternative fuel or all-electric engines or vehicles.
Meetings will be held Monday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis and March 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Brainerd office.
Additional meetings may be scheduled as the settlement project proceeds. Members of the public can submit comments by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.