IOWA CAPITOL DIGEST: Grant applications sought for Volkswagen settlement money

IOWA CAPITOL DIGEST: Grant applications sought for Volkswagen settlement money

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A roundup of state government and Capitol news items of interest for Monday, Dec. 16, 2019:

VOLKSWAGEN SETTLEMENT MONEY: The Iowa Department of Transportation is accepting grant applications through Feb. 17 for two Volkswagen Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust funding programs.

The first funding program will offer $4.9 million across the three eligible project categories: school bus, shuttle bus or transit bus; freight trucks and port drayage trucks; and nonroad transport and equipment. Private organizations, public transit system operators, cities, counties and schools that own and operate diesel fleets and equipment in Iowa are eligible to sponsor projects for these projects. State agencies are not eligible for this program.

The second program will offer $1.1 million for zero emission vehicle supply equipment. A total of $900,000 will be available for publicly accessible direct current fast charger corridor sites along Interstates 80 and 35. The sites will help fill gaps in the charging equipment infrastructure network.

The remaining $200,000 in this program will fund applications for conveniently located and publicly accessible community charging sites across the state.

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint alleging Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act with the sale of motor vehicles from 2009 to 2016 equipped with “defeat devices” that performed differently during normal vehicle operation than during emissions tests. The company agreed to settle some of the allegations with the creation of an Environmental Mitigation Trust to fund strategies that will reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides.

Iowa will receive about $21 million for mitigation projects that are being distributed through competitive application programs such as these over the next several years.

PATE IN ISRAEL: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is part an 11-member bipartisan delegation visiting Israel this week.

The National Association of Secretaries of State, of which Pate is president, partnered with the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange to arrange the trip. It includes in-depth discussions on cybersecurity policies and practices at the state, local and federal levels as they relate to business services, election administration and records management.

Included are secretaries of state from Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, West Virginia and Wyoming.

During the weeklong educational seminar that began Monday, delegation members will conduct discussions with top leaders of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate and focus on collaboration between government, academia and the private sector.

In addition to stops at historic, cultural and religious sites, the delegation will visit Tel Aviv, Haifa, Israel’s northern and southern borders, and Jerusalem.

The delegation also will meet with Palestinian civic and business leaders in Ramallah in the Palestinian Authority.

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