Frequently Asked Questions, Resources About the Volkswagen Settlement
The trust effective date for the Environmental Mitigation Trust under the Volkswagen Settlement was set for Oct. 2, marking the beginning of when potential beneficiaries can apply to receive funding.
Two years ago, on Sept. 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Violation to Volkswagen stating that the automaker “designed and installed defeat devices” in numerous vehicles to “cheat” emissions tests and deceive both federal and state regulators. In November 2015, EPA announced that the automaker also violated the Clean Air Act. As a result, numerous cases against VW were consolidated under In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who can qualify as a beneficiary, and how do potential beneficiaries become beneficiaries?
A: Potential beneficiaries are all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and federally recognized tribes. Within 60 days of the Trust Effective Date being set, each potential beneficiary must file a Certification for Beneficiary Status (Appendix D-3) with the court.
Q: What is included on the Certification for Beneficiary Status under Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement?
A: The Certification for Beneficiary Status (Appendix D-3) requires the following:
- Designation of the lead agency, certified by the office of the governor, or the analogous chief executive.
- An agreement by the certifying entity that the trustee has the authorities specified in the State or Tribal Trust Agreement.
- Certification that certifying entity has the legal authority to be a beneficiary to their respective trust, and to receive and or direct payments dispersed from their respective trust..
- Certification of legal compliance, confirming that the certifying entity has followed, and will follow all applicable laws related to their respective trust.
- Certification by the certifying entity that all funds received through their respective trust not used for eligible mitigation actions be returned to the trustee.
- An express waiver by the certifying entity for all claims for injunctive relief to redress environmental injury caused by Volkswagen.
- Certification by the certifying entity that it will maintain and make publicly available all documentation and records submitted by itself, and related to the expenditure of their respective trust funds.
- Certification that no later than 30 days after being deemed a beneficiary the certifying entity will notify any and all federal agencies that have custody, control or management of land within or contiguous to the territorial boundaries of the certifying entity, that it may now request mitigation action funds.
- Certification that the certifying entity will address the registration of subject vehicles appropriately, as outlined in the trust.
Q: How is the lead agency chosen for each state?
A: Each state must select its own lead agency when applying to become a potential beneficiary – the lead agency must have the delegated authority to act on behalf of and legally bind the beneficiary for purposes of the trust. For more information on Lead Agencies, read here.
Q: How much money does each state receive, and how is that decided?
A: The amount of money allocated to each state, is based on the percentage of unlawful vehicles registered within its boundaries compared to the number registered nationally. The allocation of funds, and the formula used for the first and second partial consent decrees can be found in Appendix D-1B.
Q: Is there a timeline in which states can begin receiving funds, and what happens if funds aren’t utilized in full?
A: Funds can be dispersed within 15 days of approval of an eligible mitigation action funding request. Upon the termination or completion of any eligible mitigation action any unused funds shall be returned to the respective trust and added back to the states allocation.