LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

DEP to oversee $72M Volkswagen settlement

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Tuesday, the Christie administration announced that a $72 million federal settlement with Volkswagen will be overseen by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. According to the administration, the state has already begun work on a “Beneficiary Mitigation Plan,” determining which programs get the funds.

Last week, Gov. Christie’s office issued a press release announcing that the Attorney General’s Office settled a separate lawsuit they filed against the company for allegedly violating New Jersey’s clean air laws and defrauding consumers. It settled for $69 million. What’s unclear is how that $69 million will be spent.

You may remember ballot question two this election, which called for an amendment to the Constitution to put money from environmental lawsuits into a lock box, only to be used to repair, restore, replace or preserve the state’s natural resources.

It did win the vote, but hasn’t gone into effect just yet.

While some environmental advocates don’t believe the settlement falls under the constitutional amendment, Ed Potosnak, the Executive Director of the NJ League of Conservation Voters says the money should go to reduce air pollution.

“Our children are breathing in toxic air every day when they go to and from school on school buses and if we can get them an electrified school bus, they’ll be much safer and happier and healthier,” said Potosnak.

In a statement, Volkswagen said the company’s “agreement with New Jersey resolves one of the most significant remaining legal exposures related to the diesel matter in the United States.”

We reached out to the Governor’s Office to clarify how the $69 million will be used and we are still waiting for a response.