Wisconsin to use Volkswagen diesel fines on new diesel buses
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Several Wisconsin cities and one county are getting new diesel buses thanks to fines that Volkswagen paid for cheating on emissions tests, but environments say officials missed an opportunity to invest in more environmentally friendly electric vehicles.
Wisconsin is set to receive $67 million over the next decade to offset pollution, The Wisconsin State Journal reported . Of that, $32 million will be used for new buses in Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Janesville, La Crosse, Madison, Racine, Sheboygan, Wausau, and Milwaukee County.
The funds are part of a $2.9 billion settlement Volkswagen agreed to pay for violating the Clean Air Act by selling diesel engines with software designed to trick emissions tests.
Almost all of the new 58 buses will have diesel engines, which generate about twice the climate-warming emissions of electric-powered buses. Only Racine plans to buy electric buses.
Environmental advocates say it's a missed opportunity to invest in electric vehicle.
"The VW settlement is a unique opportunity that should be used to cover the premium of zero-emission vehicles, not to subsidize a city's regular procurement budget for status-quo technologies," said John-Michael Cross of the nonprofit Environmental and Energy Study Institute. "Transit agencies should be working to leap ahead and electrify their fleets as quickly as possible."
Madison plans to begin adding electric buses in 2020, but the additional diesel buses will help reduce the number of cars on the road in the meantime, said Jeanne Hoffman, the city's facilities and sustainability manager.
"Single-occupancy vehicles are by far the biggest emitters of air pollution and climate change emissions in the transportation sector," Hoffman said.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj