Process started for U.S. states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and federally-recognized Indian tribes to elect to be beneficiaries of settlement fundsWILMINGTON, DEL—Wilmington Trust, N.A., in its role as trustee, has launched the website for the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trusts. The purpose of the website, www.VWEnvironmentalMitigationTrust.com, is to serve as the primary communication channel to the public for $2.7 billion trust, which was established as part of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions settlement with the federal government. U.S. states and federally-recognized Indian tribes that are approved as beneficiaries will use the funds to implement air pollution mitigation initiatives.
As trustee, Wilmington Trust is required to post mitigation plans and funding requests submitted by approved beneficiaries on a public-facing website. Additional information will be posted and updated on the website throughout the processes for beneficiary designation and fund distribution.
The effective start date of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust is Oct. 2, 2017. Trust agreements were filed with U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which allowed for the creation of a “State Mitigation Trust” and an “Indian Tribe Mitigation Trust.” As per the settlement agreement, state beneficiaries can receive at least $8 million in environment mitigation funds, and tribal beneficiaries will split a separate allocation of approximately $55 million.
To become a beneficiary of environmental mitigation trust, each state and Indian tribe must file a certification form with both the trustee and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have until Dec. 1, 2017 to elect to become beneficiaries. Indian tribes may file within 90 days of the trust effective date or Jan. 2, 2018, as detailed in the Indian Tribe Mitigation Trust.
The trustee will review each certification form for compliance with the provisions of the trust agreement, and provide notice of beneficiary status for the State Mitigation Trust and Indian Tribe Mitigation Trust by Jan. 30, 2018.
Once a state or Indian tribe is designated as an approved beneficiary, they must create a mitigation plan that details how it will use its allotted funds for emissions reduction. The plan must include the expected benefits of a reduction in emissions and a proposed process for seeking and considering public comment. Plans must be submitted to the trustee between 120 and 180 days after the effective date of Oct. 2, 2017.
The trustee will post the mitigation plans and funding requests to the website for public review.
Wilmington Trust was selected as trustee and investment manager of the trust earlier this year by a committee representing the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. states, territories, and Native American nations. The appointments were approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
For more information on the Volkswagen Clean Air Civil Settlement, the EPA created an information website with FAQs, helpful links, and updates: www.epa.gov/enforcement/volkswagen-clean-air-act-civil-settlement.