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Ohio EPA’s VW Settlement Funding Draft Plan Earmarks $15 million each to transit and school bus replacement

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The Ohio EPA last week made available its draft plan for how it intends to invest $75 million over the next decade to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution from transportation. In line with Greater Ohio Policy Center’s (GOPC) recommendations, the draft plan allocates a portion of the funding toward public transportation vehicle replacement.  Funding for this program will come from dollars allocated to Ohio from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund

The draft plan recommends that 45-50% of the settlement be spent on on-road fleet and equipment projects, with 20% of the total settlement ($15 million) allocated for the replacement of transit buses and 20% for school bus replacement. The funds would be directed to VW priority counties, which includes Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina and Summit counties in northeast Ohio; Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking and Madison counties in central Ohio; and Butler, Claremont, Hamilton and Warren counties in southwest Ohio. Secondary priority counties include Ashtabula, Erie, Greene, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, Ottawa, Portage, Sandusky, Stark and Trumbull counties.

One year ago, GOPC proposed to the Ohio EPA that 50% of the proceeds from the settlement be spent to repower and replace diesel vehicles in Ohio’s public transportation fleet. As we noted at the time, public transportation in Ohio has been severely underfunded for years. Currently the state allocates approximately $0.63 per Ohioan to transit, while Ohio’s peers, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, invest over $24.00 per capita. Half of Ohio’s allotment ($35.7 million) of the Mitigation Trust Fund could replace more than 125 diesel-powered city buses, or repower more than 700 buses with alternative fuel engines.

For more about the settlement, you can read some of the previous blog posts Greater Ohio has published over the last year.

The 20% allocation will allow Ohio to replace 70 diesel-powered city buses or repower more than 390 buses with alternative fuel engines.

GOPC applauds the draft beneficiary mitigation plan and thanks Ohio EPA for responding to the calls to prioritize the funding for public transportation and school transportation vehicles.

Now that the plan has been drafted, Ohio EPA will be offering three regional public information sessions that have been scheduled for January 2018 to explain how the plan was developed and to answer questions. Sessions will occur at the following times and locations:

Thursday, January 11, Auditorium, Ohio Department of Transportation, 1980 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43223 (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Thursday, January 18, Estabrook Recreation Center, 4125 Fulton Rd., Cleveland, Ohio 44144 (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

Monday, January. 22, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), 720 East Pete Rose Way, Suite 420, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

If you are unable to attend one of the public sessions, Ohio EPA is also accepting public comment via their website or by email (derg@epa.ohio.gov – Please include VW Comment in the subject line).  Written comments may also be mailed to Carolyn Watkins, Ohio EPA-OEE, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049, or hand delivered to Ohio EPA headquarters, 50 W. Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, OH 43215. All comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.