School systems across the state are using money Louisiana received from a federal lawsuit against Volkswagen to replace old diesel school buses with new alternative fuel buses.

Louisiana got 19.8-million-dollars from the settlement, and Louisiana Clean Fuels co-coordinator Tyler Hermann says the money will subsidize half of the cost of alternative fuel buses for school districts. “New propane buses run something just under 100,000 dollars or so 50,000 dollars a pop, so then 12 million or so, that’s 260 busses or somewhere around that number.” Schools replacing diesel buses with new “cleaner” burning diesel would only receive a 25 percent subsidy.

In 2017 VW pleaded guilty to installing software on their vehicles that hid their Nitrogen Oxide emission levels. Hermann says the settlement works towards addressing that environmental damage.

“The settlement itself is truly focusing on NOx emissions, and those are the smog-forming emissions from the tailpipe, but these alternative fuels do have a lower carbon impact as well as a sort of knock-on benefits.”

The settlement money was disbursed to states based on the number of VWs sold in each state.

Hermann says the money the state received from the settlement can only be used for a narrow range of projects like purchasing cleaner buses or installing electric charging stations. “Because this is coming from an actual lawsuit settlement there are only specific things that the money can be used for. There really isn’t too much risk of it being used for things that are totally off-base.”

Once the state received the settlement it was divided into thirds, one each going to the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Natural Resources, and DOTD.