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North Dakota health department outlines plan for VW settlement money

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health plans to help replace diesel-powered vehicles using part of its $8.1 million piece of the Volkswagen settlement pie, a department official said Tuesday, July 17.

The department opened a 45-day comment period on its draft plan for the funding Tuesday. Keith Hinnenkamp, an environmental scientist with the department, said it's possible they could start accepting applications later this fall.

Much of the plan focuses on "repowering or replacing medium and heavy-duty, diesel-powered equipment," including cement mixers, dump trucks and school and transit buses, as well as locomotives. The plan also allows funding for electric vehicle charging equipment.

Both public and private entities would be eligible for funding, Hinnenkamp said.

The goal of the program is to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, the pollutant at the center of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. The German-based company violated the Clean Air Act by selling 590,000 diesel cars with "defeat devices" intended to dupe emissions tests, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

North Dakota's $8.1 million comes from a $2.9 billion pot being distributed to states and tribal governments, Hinnenkamp said. The company has been hit with billions more in the scandal's fallout.

The North Dakota Health Department also has scheduled two public information meetings on the plan:

  • 6 p.m., July 30 at the A. Glenn Hill Center, Room 112, 1306 Centennial Blvd. in Fargo.
  • 6 p.m., July 31 at the North Dakota Department of Health Training Center, 2639 E. Main in Bismarck.
John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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