Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Could Get Up to $65M from Vw Settlement

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Could Get Up to $65M from Vw Settlement

Article excerpt

New Jersey will be eligible for up to $65 million from Volkswagen to reduce a key air pollutant that triggers asthma attacks as part of the auto company's settlement with federal officials over cheating on emissions tests.

The settlement needs final approval from a judge, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has already told states that they could use their share of the $2.7 billion for a variety of measures, including buying zero-emission government vehicles and building charging stations for electric cars.

The Christie administration, which has its own lawsuit pending against Volkswagen, would not comment on the funds.

"Upon final approval of the settlement by the federal court, it is premature for New Jersey to determine if it will participate in the program," said Lee Moore, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.

The money comes from a $14.7 billion settlement reached in June after the EPA found last year that Volkswagen had installed "defeat devices" in diesel-fueled cars that would cut harmful emissions whenever they were being tested.

When running normally, however, the vehicles would emit up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide, which can aggravate respiratory diseases particularly asthma.

Asthma rates are higher in New Jersey, partly because of the thousands of diesel trucks that carry goods through the state.

About 9 percent of New Jersey children and adults suffer from the disease compared with 8.6 percent of children and 7.4 percent of adults nationally.

Mitigation plan

The EPA put strict restrictions on how the money can be used. New Jersey, like all states, would have to create a mitigation plan summarizing how it intends to use the $65 million before receiving the funds.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said he hopes the money is not diverted to plug budget shortfalls, something that has been done several times by the Christie administration. …

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