Buses, Trucks, Trains and Tugboats: How Ohio spent $75 million from the VW Clean Air Act Settlement

Click here to view the powerpoint from the event.

Join us on Thursday, November 2 from 12:00-1:00 pm for this virtual conversation on air quality improvement in Ohio.

In 2016, US EPA and the State of California resolved a civil enforcement case against Volkswagen (VW) and its affiliated companies based on allegations that VW violated the Clean Air Act by the sale of approximately 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 diesel motor vehicles equipped with “defeat devices” in the form of computer software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests. The major excess pollutant at issue in this case is oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a serious health concern.

The $14 billion settlement included a $2 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund to provide funds to the states to mitigate the air quality impacts of the higher vehicle emissions from the offending action.. The settlement identifies 10 categories of mitigation actions that are eligible for funding, and four criteria for where the funds can be spent. Ohio’s share from the Trust was $75,302,522, the tenth largest of the states, based on the registration of more than 15,000 vehicles with the illegal defeat devices.

In 2018, Ohio EPA filed a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) allocating its share of the funds to mitigation actions that could produce the greatest air quality benefit in terms of NOx emission reductions, reduce public exposure to the pollutants in diesel exhaust, and promote clean vehicle technologies.

Ohio EPA offered six annual grant application cycles beginning in 2018, replacing old diesel trucks, school and transit buses with newer cleaner vehicles, and replacing or repowering diesel cargo handling equipment, airport ground support equipment, freight switcher locomotives and tugboats to all-electric or hybrid electric technology. The program also awarded more than $11 million to install charging stations for electric vehicles in 26 Ohio counties. While many funded projects are still underway, it’s now possible to review just what has been accomplished to improve air quality and offset illegal pollution.

Carolyn Watkins
Ohio EPA Moderator

Carolyn Watkins serves as Chief of Ohio EPA’s Office of Environmental Education, and Administrator of Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Grants, Diesel Emission Reduction Grants, an Environmental Science and Engineering Scholarship Program, the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, and the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund. She oversees $20 million annually in state and federal grants to educate Ohio residents about environmental issues; to encourage transition to alternative fuels, and to reduce emissions from diesel school and transit buses, trucks, locomotives, ships, cargo handling equipment and other diesel fleets.

Joseph P. Starck, Jr., 
President, The Great Lakes Towing Company

Joe Starck has been with The Great Lakes Towing Company (GLT) for thirty years and has been the Company’s president since January 2014. GLT owns and operates the largest fleet of tugboats on the U.S. Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Seaway, providing commercial tugboat services in more than 35 U.S. ports. The Towing Company’s operations also include a shipyard doing business under the name Great Lakes Shipyard (GLS), located on the Old River Channel of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. Starck graduated from NY Maritime College at Fort Schuyler, Bronx, NY with an Engineering Degree in Naval Architecture, and obtained an MBA from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Business. Click here for Mr. Starck’s complete bio.

Sarah Jilbert
Sustainability Program Manager
DHL Supply Chain

Sarah Jilbert is the Sustainability Program Manager at DHL Supply Chain and lives in Columbus, OH. She has been with DHL for 5 years. Her background is in environmental sustainability and energy efficiency consulting. Sarah received her undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and her MBA from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Chelsie China
Sustainability Manager of Grants and Special Projects
DHL Supply Chain

Chelsie China is the Sustainability Manager of Grants and Special Projects at DHL. She most recently transitioned into her role with DHL after working in North Carolina philanthropy. Chelsie was a student athlete at her alma mater, Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. She currently resides in Columbus, Ohio.