Monday, October 30, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today signed an executive order that declares Oklahoma as a participant in a mitigation trust agreement as a result of the federal government’s settlement of its lawsuit against Volkswagen (VW). Part of the settlement established a national environmental trust with funds allocated for Oklahoma.
The U.S. government and VW have resolved allegations that the automaker violated the Clean Air Act by selling approximately 590,000 vehicles equipped with defect devices. This action resulted in excess nitrogen oxide emissions being released above regulated limits up to 40 times the U.S. limit depending on driving conditions.
The state of Oklahoma has been initially allocated nearly $21 million through the state trust agreement.
“I am tasking my chief adviser on energy and environmental policy, Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague, with oversight and approval of the State Mitigation Trust,” said Fallin. “Furthermore, I am designating the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as the lead agency in creating and implementing the state mitigation plan. The trust funds, as administered by DEQ, give us an opportunity to continue the great reduction in emissions that we have already seen in Oklahoma.”
VW was ordered to establish an environmental mitigation trust which states, territories, and federally recognized Indian tribes are allocated a portion based on the number of affected vehicles in their respected areas. States, territories and tribes have an opportunity to apply as beneficiaries of the environmental mitigation trust in order to access their allocation of funds.
Funding can be used only to support projects aimed at reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from the transportation sector.
“Oklahoma has an opportunity to utilize the funds for forward-thinking projects to transform markets, drive economic development and achieve significant environmental gains,” Teague said. “Our office looks forward to continuing our working relationship and collaboration with DEQ to put together a plan benefiting all Oklahomans.”
Fallin said it is important to have stakeholders involved in the process of designing the mitigation plan.
“I would encourage all interested parties to be engaged in the creation of our state’s mitigation plan, and look forward to seeing project proposals come to fruition,” the governor said.