Northam announces initiative to drive electric equipment, clean transportation in Virginia


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, speaks during a news conference announcing his legislative criminal justice priorities in Richmond, Va., Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced on Friday that Virginia will invest $34 million to implement zero-emission equipment at the Port of Virginia and funding for clean transportation across the state.

Of the investment, $14 million will be allocated to replace diesel cargo handling equipment with zero-emission all-electric equipment at the Port of Virginia. The funds will come from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust (VW Trust).

The Port of Virginia currently operates more than 160 diesel yard tractors and nearly two-thirds of cargo is transported by vehicles requiring diesel fuel. With the switch, projected data shows the project will eliminate over 3,000 tons of diesel pollution, more than 71,000 tons of greenhouse gases, and over six million gallons of diesel fuel.

“As we continue to fight this global pandemic, we are reminded daily that we must prioritize public health in every way possible. With this initiative, we will electrify operations at the Port of Virginia and drive the much-needed transition to clean transportation across our Commonwealth,” said Northam. “Together, these projects show how we can make critical investments in the health and wellbeing of all Virginians while advancing our commitment to a clean energy future.”

This is the fourth funding allocation that Virginia has made from the Volkswagen emissions settlement through a state mitigation plan. As the lead agency acting on the state’s behalf as a beneficiary, the Department of Environmental Quality will distribute Virginia’s share of $93.6 million from the settlement. 

In the past two years, Northam has used about $48 million from the VW Trust. The breakdown includes nearly $20 million for an electric school bus initiative, $14 million to fund the deployment of electric transit buses, and $14 million allocated to develop the Commonwealth’s electric vehicle charging network.

Additionally, $20 million of the total $34 million investment will go to fund the Clean Air Communities Program to electrify government fleets across the Commonwealth.

All state and local government entities are eligible and can apply for funding to support projects that serve the public and replace diesel vehicles with zero-emission, electric vehicles.

The Clean Air Communities Program will begin accepting applications later this summer and priority will be given to projects located in low-income communities, communities of color, and communities listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Priority List. The program will be administered by DEQ.

“The projects funded through this settlement will showcase effective partnerships and innovative ideas,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “We want to enable communities, particularly underserved communities, to implement projects that best respond to their needs.”

The full release can be read here.

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