As part of its punishment for the “dieselgate” scandal, Volkswagen agreed to spend $800 million in California to support clean air vehicles. California legislators have now decided to tighten the agreement and is now telling VW to spend a portion of the funds in low income areas, which are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
Poor communities tend to have more air pollution than higher income areas
VW’s diesel emissions settlement will see VW spend $2 billion on a new national “Electrify America” campaign. VW recently revealed its plans for the first $200 million that it will spend in California, which will involve building highways and EV charging stations in high traffic areas. Critics have been quick to point out that VW’s plan could give the automaker a competitive advantage over its competitors and at the same time ignore low income areas where the state actually wants to promote “clean cars.”
In May the California Air Resources Board asked VW to invest at 35 percent of the funds in poorer areas. The state’s legislature has now passed a bill that requires that VW “make every attempt” to invest 35 percent of the first 30-month investment in low-income and disadvantaged communities. The bill has not been signed yet by Governor Jerry Brown, but he has said that he supports it.