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Illinois EPA plans meetings on $108 million in Volkswagen settlement funds

Illinois is receiving $108 million from the 2016 Volkswagen Clean Air Act violation settlement. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting three public outreach sessions to hear your input about its plan to spend the money, and to answer your questions.

CUB and other consumer advocates have urged the Illinois EPA to build a strong plan that maximizes investment in electric vehicles. Specifically, we have urged the EPA to:

  • Reserve up to 15% of the funding for electric vehicle infrastructure. Electrifying our transportation sector is good for the environment, and, if managed correctly, can reduce our power bills.
  • Maintain at least 10% of the funding for electric school buses. We hope the funding is increased to provide additional assistance to low-income communities impacted by pollution.
  • Invest more in electrification of the transportation sector.

Volkswagen Settlement Public Outreach Sessions hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency will be held in the evening from 6 – 8 p.m. at the following locations:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Illinois EPA Headquarters (North Entrance)

Sangamo Conference Room

1000 East Converse



Thursday, May 24, 2018

St. Paul Baptist Church

1500 Bond Avenue

East St. Louis


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

James R. Thompson Center Auditorium

100 West Randolph



The settlement came after Volkswagen was accused of selling diesel vehicles equipped with software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests. In fact, in 2014, an independent research study revealed that the emissions from Volkswagen cars were 15-40 times above U.S. EPA requirements.

Please consider attending these meetings and urge Illinois to maximize EV investment in the plan.

Note: Our friends in the environmental community offer guidance for anyone interested in speaking at the sessions:

How to Testify:

  • If you are able to give public comment, try to keep your comments to 2-3 minutes at most.
  • Personalize your comments, and explain why this issue matters to you, or your family.
  • Be courteous, and thank the Illinois EPA for providing the opportunity to testify.


Illinois will receive $108 million from the VW settlement. Illinois is getting this money after VW was accused of lying about how much pollution their diesel vehicles emit.

  • The settlement funds provide an opportunity to offset pollution resulting from VW vehicles
  • Eligible technologies include: all-electric zero emission vehicles (EVs), alternative fuels (e.g. propane), new diesel and hybrid vehicles.
  • There are 10 categories of eligible equipment, from trucks and locomotives to school and transit buses and EV charging infrastructure. These categories are determined by the settlement. Please avoid public comments that suggest projects outside these categories as Illinois EPA cannot change the settlement.

Summary of concerns about the Illinois EPA’s draft plan, released in February:

  • The VW mitigation agreement allows states to set aside up to 15% of settlement funds for light-duty Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure. Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Minnesota have proposed dedicating the full 15% for EV infrastructure. Illinois is also permitted to maximize pollution reduction through electrification, but the Illinois EPA has dedicated no funds for this in its draft plan.
  • The Illinois EPA draft plan includes 10% for all-electric school buses. We strongly favor this part of the plan, but want to keep these buses electric and not propane or diesel.
  • The state’s draft plan focuses heavily on switching out older diesel engines for newer diesel engines, which will reduce air emissions but continue our reliance on fossil fuels, like diesel.
  • At a minimum, funds proposed for newer locomotive diesel engines should be required to be used for Tier 4 brand new engines or at least Tier 3 certified engines if older locomotives are upgraded.

Public Health:

  • Millions of Illinoisans are exposed to dangerous amounts of diesel pollution. Numerous studies have shown that inhaling diesel exhaust can cause respiratory diseases and worsen existing conditions such as asthma.
  • Diesel exhaust from buses poses a particular public health risk. It is important that the final plan contain no less than a 10% funding allocation for all-electric school buses, no less than 10% of the overall funding for electric transit buses and Illinois public transit districts.

Carbon-Free Transportation:

  • Takeaway: It is important that Illinois allots the maximum 15% for electric vehicle infrastructure; and 10% for all-electric school buses; and that all other projects be all-electric over clean diesel.
  • We now have a tremendous opportunity to use this money to reduce air pollution and work towards a carbon free transportation sector.
  • Use of these funds for all-electric projects will enable Illinois to unlock economic and environmental benefits that come from mass EV adoption.
  • By committing these dollars to electrification, the state can jumpstart the EV market, reduce electricity bills due to downward pressure on rates, and improve air quality for all Illinoisans.
  • Last year the total number of electric, battery-driven public transit buses in the US grew by 83 percent.
  • Every day a diesel vehicle is driven, it runs dirtier and less efficiently because of wear and tear.
  • Electric vehicles emit no tailpipe pollution and the electricity they use is increasingly coming from solar and wind power due to Illinois energy law, meaning electric vehicles will get cleaner as time passes.

For more information on the Volkswagen settlement, visit any of the links below:

The Environmental Law & Policy Center fact sheet. 

Illinois Environmental Council fact sheet. 

Sierra Club fact sheet.