The Volkswagen Group's sweeping diesel emissions violations that cost the storied automaker more than 26 billion euros ($30.4 billion) is now helping fuel the rise of electric cars, buses and charging stations across the U.S.
As part of a series of sweeping settlements, Volkswagen has agreed to pay almost $3 billion to fund efforts to cut pollution from diesel engines in every state.
It's up to local officials to decide what to do with the money, but there are a few strings attached: It must be used to reduce a central component of smog, nitrogen oxide. And only 15 percent can pay for electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.
The debate over how to spend it is playing out differently in each state, which received amounts based on how many Volkswagens with emission-test-cheating software were registered within their borders.
California tops the list, landing $422.6 million. Texas comes next, with $209.3 million. States have 15 years to spend the money. More than 10 have finalized their plans, according to the Sierra Club, which is tracking the effort. Here are a few examples:
- California will spend its money mostly on replacing heavy-duty trucks, buses and equipment with zero-emission models. The state will also invest in electric-vehicle charging stations and efforts to cut emissions at freight facilities.
- Pennsylvania's plan includes funding projects to retrofit diesel-burning locomotives, marine engines and other equipment that sullies the air. The state will focus on densely populated areas -- including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- where impoverished neighborhoods tend to be disproportionately affected by air pollution.
- Minnesota, which received $47 million, is spending money on grants to replace hundreds of diesel school buses, ferries, tug boats and other heavy-duty vehicles. It also plans to develop about 65 electric vehicle charging stations.
- Georgia, awarded $63.6 million, plans to spend money on a fleet of electric buses and charging depots, including terminal-to-terminal emission-free shuttles to replace diesel burning models at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
- Connecticut, which got $55.7 million, plans to make $7.5 million of that available for grants to reduce nitrogen oxide in a variety of vehicles.
"This is a landmark moment," Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said in a statement. "Over the next 10 years this plan will put in place not only tools to clean up VW's excess emissions, but also to help achieve further reductions of smog-forming pollution for decades to come."