Inversion

A pedestrian crosses the 24th St. viaduct near downtown Ogden where the air pollution made it nearly impossible to see the rest of the city or the surrounding mountains in February 2016. 

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality selected 14 entities to receive funding from the settlement through the $35 million Utah received from the Volkswagen Clean Diesel Settlement.

Volkswagen officials participated in a years-long scheme rigging emissions equipment to circumvent federal emissions standards. It is estimated that during the course of that scandal, approximately 7,000 non-compliant vehicles in Utah released between 351 and 1,556 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions in Utah, approximately 70% of which were in the seven Utah counties (Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah and Weber) designated as non-attainment areas according to national ambient air quality standards for particulate matter.

Once the scandal was uncovered in 2015, Volkswagen ended up agreeing to a several billion dollar settlement, $35 million of which was received by the state of Utah.

The DEQ is using about 73.5% of those funds — approximately $25.5 million of the settlement — to replace local freight trucks, school buses, transit buses and/or shuttle buses, according to a press release from the DEQ.

The City of Bountiful will receive $145,000 to replace two Class 8 diesel sanitation trucks and the Davis School District will get $136,260 to replace two diesel school buses, according to Lisa Burr, an environmental planning consultant for the Division of Air Quality.

More than 50 entities applied for the funding, and were evaluated for cost effectiveness in achieving nitrogen oxide reductions and other community benefits. Location was also factored in, as entities in “non-attainment” areas for air quality received higher scores.

In total, 104 vehicles will be replaced at 50% to 65% of the cost of the new vehicle, the press release said.

Scott Baird, the interim executive director for the DEQ, said that the opportunity to invest in cleaner vehicles at no cost to taxpayers provides a double benefit to taxpayers.

“This is a unique opportunity for the state to reduce emissions from mobile sources, which contribute significantly to our overall emissions,” Baird said in the release.

Park City, Salt Lake City School District and Utah Transit Authority will replace their diesel vehicles with electric vehicles, while the rest of the applicants will replace their diesel vehicles with new, clean diesel vehicles. Those awarded the settlement funds will have three years to complete their projects.

Jessica Kokesh contributed to this report.

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