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Guide Volkswagen Diesel Settlements & Environmental Mitigation

This page summarizes court settlements of diesel emissions fraud complaints against Volkswagen Group of America (VW). It describes options for affected consumers and serves as an intake point for ideas on how Massachusetts should invest settlement funds.

Table of Contents

News & Updates

December 2019: First VW Settlement Grants

As part of the VW Settlement Open Solicitation initiative, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded $7.5 million in grants for 98 projects that will support the purchase of electric vehicles, diesel-hybrid electric waste collection trucks, liquid-propane-gas school buses, cleaner-diesel trucks and ferry engines, and a marine shore-power installation in Massachusetts. See the list of recipients.

December 2019: Spending Plan Amendment

The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a Final Amendment to its Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP).

The BMP is the Commonwealth’s vision for spending the $75 million in VW Settlement funds allocated to Massachusetts over an allowable 15-year timeline. Goals include helping the state:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions from the transportation sector;
  • Promote electrification of the state’s transportation network; and
  • Foster equitable distribution of funding across Massachusetts by considering projects' geographic locations and benefits to environmental justice communities.

The Amendment includes additional funding of approximately $17.3 million for:

  • $11 million in additional electric transit buses and
  • Approximately $6.3 million for the purchase and installation of additional electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

These additions bring total planned spending to approximately $40.8 million of the state's $75 million allocation:

  • $22 million for electric transit buses;
  • Approximately $11.3 million for the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure across Massachusetts; and
  • $7.5 million allocated under the December 2018 BMP for other mitigation actions eligible under the settlement that would reduce emissions, promote electrification of the state’s transportation network, and serve environmental justice populations.

See Additional Resources below for the Final Amendment, the original December 2018 BMP, and information about the BMP stakeholder process. Learn more about eligible projects.

Previous Updates

MassDEP held a series of regional stakeholder meetings across the state over the winter of 2018 and issued a request for information (RFI) in spring 2018 to obtain data and feedback on how the state should spend VW funds. The agency issued a draft BMP and accepted public comment on the document over the summer of 2018. The latest Amendment is consistent with previous public comment received and with the December 2018 BMP.

In January 2019, MassDEP announced the availability of five VW Settlement Trust-funded open grant programs aimed at reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and greenhouse gas (GHG) across Massachusetts, while supporting electrification of the state's transportation network. Learn more about these programs.

Additional Resources for News & Updates

Settlement-Funded Grant & Incentive Programs

There are five grant programs, funded by the Volkswagen Settlement and administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), that are aimed at reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across Massachusetts, while supporting electrification of the state's transportation network.

About the VW Settlements

Volkswagen Group of America (VW) admitted publicly in 2015 that it had secretly and deliberately installed software "defeat devices" designed to cheat state emissions tests. Nearly 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche vehicles with 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel engines that the company sold or leased to American consumers were affected. 

Residents of Massachusetts own or lease about 14,000 of the affected vehicles which, due to VW's actions, have emitted smog-causing oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at levels of up to 40 times higher than allowed.

In response to complaints filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the attorneys general of several states, including Massachusetts, courts have approved a series of partial settlements resolving some aspects of the case. To date, these partial settlements require VW to:

  • Offer buy-backs, early lease terminations or emissions control modifications to the owners or lessees of at least 85 percent of all affected vehicles.
  • Invest $2 billion to promote the use of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and related infrastructure across the country.
  • Establish a $3 billion environmental mitigation trust to fund national and state projects aimed at offsetting the excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions caused by VW's actions.

Under terms of the court-approved partial settlements, Massachusetts is expected to receive more than $75 million to spend on environmental mitigation projects. MassDEP is developing a plan for investing these funds in better air quality, cleaner transportation, and healthier communities across the state.

Eligible Mitigation Actions

The following types of projects are eligible or VW Settlement Trust funding:

  • Purchase and/or repower of specific diesel on-road and off-road engines, vehicles, vessels and off-road equipment.
  • Installation or re-power of airport ground support equipment and shore-side power systems for ocean-going vessels.
  • Purchase, installation and maintenance of charging stations or hydrogen dispensing equipment for light-duty zero emission vehicles (ZEVs).
  • Projects eligible under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA).

See the document in Additional Resources below for more detailed information about eligible projects.

Additional Resources for Eligible Mitigation Actions

If You Own or Lease an Affected Vehicle

If you purchased or leased an affected Volkswagen or Audi vehicle with a 2.0-liter diesel engine or Volkswagen, Audi or Porsche vehicle with a 3.0-liter diesel engine, the court-approved partial settlements give you the option of either:

  • Selling it back to Volkswagen (VW) or terminating your VW lease without penalty, or 
  • Bringing your vehicle to a local VW dealer for an Approved Emissions Modification. 

Regardless of the option you select, you will also receive financial restitution from VW. The amount will depend on vehicle type and whether you own or lease. For additional information, visit:

Stay Informed

Want to receive periodic updates from MassDEP on the VW settlements, environmental mitigation project planning, outreach events, and more? The agency maintains an email list. Manage your subscription preferences below.