Scott Ball / Rivard Report
A final state plan to distribute Volkswagen settlement funds has the San Antonio area receiving slightly less money than proposed, though still more than any other urban area in the state.
Under a final plan by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, San Antonio will receive nearly $61.6 million of the $209 million headed for Texas as a result of the settlement between the German car manufacturer, the federal government, and the State of California over the company’s emissions cheating scandal.
The money is intended to help local governments and businesses reduce air pollution, largely by replacing older polluting vehicles with cleaner fleets. A draft version of the TCEQ’s plan had San Antonio receiving $73.5 million.
With San Antonio under additional scrutiny for its air quality, officials with the City and Bexar County consider the settlement funds critical to helping San Antonio clean up its air.
“This is a happy day for us,” said Colleen Bridger, director of San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District, who is leading the City’s efforts to reduce air pollution. “We are super excited about the opportunity to work with our partners to submit applications.”
Bridger said she was pleased to see that the TCEQ had reduced the amount of match funding required from local governments applying to use the Volkswagen funds from 40 percent to 20 percent.
That means that 80 percent of the funding for converting a fleet of diesel school buses, for example, could come from the Volkswagen funds instead of 60 percent, as originally proposed.
“Ultimately, that allows us to more fully participate,” Bridger said.
The final plan allocates $33.4 million to Dallas-Fort Worth, $31.8 million to the Houston area, $16.8 million to El Paso, $16.3 million to Austin, $7.6 million to Beaumont-Port Arthur, and $2.1 million to Bell County.
Another $31.4 million will be used statewide to provide more infrastructure for electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The remaining approximately $8 million have been set aside for the TCEQ’s administrative costs, but the agency has said it hopes to use less than that.