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Connecticut To Use $51.6 Million From VW Scandal Settlement To Cut Air Pollution

Connecticut is getting $51.6 million — on top of the $16 million it received last June — as its share of Volkswagen's multibillion-dollar settlement of its major emissions cheating scandal.

The new money will be used for projects to cut air pollution in Connecticut, such as replacing or upgrading engines on buses, marine equipment, trucks and bulldozers with more efficient or electric motors. Government and non-government organizations will be able to apply for funding under the program.

State environmental officials say the funding can help Connecticut remove tons of air pollutants now generated each year by such vehicles and machines.

"While it is impossible to offset the environmental impacts of VW's egregious actions, we intend to use these funds to improve air quality and public health in Connecticut while supporting important changes needed to meet our long-term environmental and energy goals," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday.

The scandal involves VW's admitted long-term program to install and use special software and "defeat devices" on VW and Audi brand diesel-powered vehicles sold in the U.S. to cheat on emissions control testing. State and federal officials say the result was that those cars and trucks put much more pollution into the air than allowed by law.

Company records indicate that 11,911 of those vehicles were sold in Connecticut between 2009 and 2015. Close to 600,000 suspect VW and Audi cars and trucks were sold throughout the U.S., and the settlements include restitution and recalls for people who bought those vehicles with 2.0 liter engines.

U.S. authorities have already indicted six current and former VW employees on conspiracy and fraud charges, and the investigations in Germany and the U.S. are far from over. German prosecutors said Friday they have evidence VW's former chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, took part in the emissions fraud.

The various portions of VW settlements of civil and criminal penalties add up to an estimated $4.3 billion.

The $16 million the state received in June came from one portion of that money that resulted from the actions of a coalition of more than 40 state attorneys general, including Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen. Most of that first payment went into the state's general fund.

The $51.6 million in additional funding Connecticut now expects to receive is part of a $2.7 billion environmental mitigation fund set up by VW.

The plan for using the $51.6 million in settlement funding was developed by Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and can be viewed online.

"The initial draft of DEEP's plan keeps all possible options open for the use of new technologies to improve our air quality, protect public health and support our efforts to achieve important environmental objectives," said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee.

Klee said flexibility in using the funding is key because "We don't know how technology will change and evolve over the ten-year period to be covered by this plan."

State officials said the new money is expected to be available beginning in the fall of 2017, and that projects will be selected based on a variety of factors that include how much pollution they would prevent and how cost efficient those projects are.

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