HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is seeking applicants for grants to replace diesel transit buses with cleaner, more fuel-efficient models, including electric, hybrid and alternative fuels.
The grant awards – aimed at reducing nitrogen oxide emissions – will be the first under the new Montana Clean Transportation Program, which will distribute Montana’s $12.6 million share of the national Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Settlement funds. DEQ will provide up to $2.5 million to successful applicants through this first round of funding. The maximum amount for individual grants will vary based on the type of project and the applicant.
“This funding will give transit operators around the state the opportunity to offset the cost of new, alternative-fueled buses. This will lower upfront costs, but also save communities in the long run through lower fuel costs,” said Dan Lloyd with the DEQ Energy Office. “The result will be cleaner transit options in Montana.”
In 2016, the United States settled claims against Volkswagen concerning the use of devices intended to defeat emissions tests. Installed in certain VW diesel cars sold between 2009-2016, the devices allowed the vehicles to emit up to 40 times the level of nitrogen oxide pollution allowed under the Clean Air Act. In November 2017, Gov. Steve Bullock designated DEQ as the lead agency to administer the funds and develop a mitigation plan to meet the settlement requirements. The Final Montana Beneficiary Mitigation Plan, which provides the public with Montana’s high-level vision for use of the funds, is available at: deq.mt.gov/Energy/transportation/VW-Settlement-Page Montana’s $12.6 million portion of the settlement can be spent over the next 10 years. While this round of grants will focus on replacing older diesel buses with more efficient models, the funds also can be used to install electric vehicle charging stations and for administrative, marketing and education activities associated with eligible projects.
“We have designed this program to promote effective solutions that reduce emissions across the state,” said Chris Dorrington, administrator of DEQ’s Air, Energy and Mining Division. “Supporting investment in low-emission, efficient transportation options will benefit our communities by helping improve air quality and advancing innovative transportation solutions."
DEQ will announce a webinar in February on the Request for Applications. For more information, visit: deq.mt.gov/Energy/transportation/VW-Settlement-Page