Florida Chamber Convenes VW Settlement Working Group

By: Christopher Emmanuel

The Volkswagen Group (VW) has settled with the federal government regarding violations of the Clean Air Act by roughly half a million diesel engines. A portion of the settlement requires VW to fund a $2.7 billion mitigation trust fund intended to mitigate the excess NOx emissions from the offending vehicles.

The fund will be administered by a national trustee, who has yet to be named. After the selection of the trustee, states may elect to become beneficiaries of the fund. Each state that elects to become a beneficiary of the settlement will receive a predetermined allocation of the funds. Florida’s portion of the VW Settlement Fund is more than $152 million. The Florida Chamber expects Florida will elect to become a beneficiary. To become a beneficiary, the Governor must first designate a specific state entity (such as the Department of Environmental Protection) to be the beneficiary agency.

According to the settlement agreement, each state that elects to become a beneficiary will have some flexibility to choose which eligible projects will receive the funds. These funds may be used for certain clean energy and infrastructure projects outlined in Appendix D-2 of the settlement agreement, which can be found here. Appendix D-2 outlines ten proper uses of the funds.

Any use of the funds must be submitted by the beneficiary agency to the national trustee, who will approve as long as the expenditure is consistent with the settlement agreement. Therefore, any Florida entity wishing to receive the funds must first be selected by the state agency and then approved by the national trustee.

The Florida Chamber has convened a VW Settlement Working Group, with the dual goals of bringing awareness of this unique opportunity to Florida’s business community and making strategic project recommendations to the beneficiary agency based both on positive environmental and economic impacts. This effort is being led by Husein Cumber of Florida East Coast Industries and includes the following companies:

• A. Duda & Sons, Inc.
• AT&T
• AutoNation
• Boeing
• Caterpillar Inc.
• CSX
• Florida Department of Transportation
• Florida Recycling Partnership
• Florida East Coast Railway
• Florida East Coast Industries
• Florida Municipal Electric Association
• Florida Power & Light Company
• Florida Trucking Association
• Florida Transportation Builders Association
• General Motors Company
• Gray Robinson
• Gulf Power
• HNTB Corporation
• Hopping Green and Sams
• Infinity Global Solutions
• Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce
• Jacksonville Electric Authority
• Lewis Longman Walker
• MetroPlan
• Mosaic
• North Florida TPO
• Orlando Utilities Commission
• Littlejohn, Mann & Associates
• Port Tampa Bay
• RS&H
• St Petersburg Chamber of Commerce
• St Petersburg Economic Development Council
• TECO Energy
• UPS Corporate Public Affairs
• Wilson & Associates