(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel approved legislation on Monday sponsored by Gordon Johnson, Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson, James Kennedy, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Raj Mukherji to establish a fund with the money from the "Volkswagen Settlement Utilization Fund for Motor Vehicles Emissions Reduction and Air Pollution Control."
"Receiving the second settlement from Volkswagen is tremendous for New Jersey," said Johnson (D- Bergen). "Creating a special fund that aims to reduce exhaust emissions and air pollution will ensure that the money will be protected and used for its rightful purpose."
"Settlements fund from environmental lawsuits over the last eight years has been used to balance state budgets and other purposes that have nothing to do with the environment," said Zwicker (D- Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset). "This legislation will ensure that these settlement funds are used to address environmental priorities in the state."
"Dedicating these settlement funds to programs reducing emissions and air pollution ensures cleaner air and a better environment for all New Jersey residents," said Benson (D- Mercer, Middlesex).
"With this bill, we send a message to New Jerseyans that these environmental settlements will only be use for its proper purpose - to help clean up the environment," said Kennedy (D- Middlesex, Somerset, Union).
"These settlements won from environmental hazards inflicted on New Jersey's communities are not to be used for any other purpose than righting the wrongs made against our environment," said Vainieri Huttle (D- Bergen). "Establishing a fund with the settlement from Volkswagen will help to do just that."
"Dedicating this settlement to a special fund is the right thing for the government to do," said Mukherji (D- Hudson). "We'll be able to ensure funding for critical programming that will address longtime concerns of air pollution and emission reduction."
Under the bill (A-4749), the fund will be solely for programs to:
1) Promote zero emission vehicle use and the development and construction of charging or filling infrastructure to support such use, including but not limited to, educating the public on the importance and availability of zero emission vehicles;
2) Reduce diesel emissions at the ports of Elizabeth and Newark, the ports in South Jersey Port District, and other ports in southern New Jersey by repowering or replacement of diesel-powered vehicles or cargo handling equipment operating in those port regions through grants, loans or both;
3) Convert diesel-powered airport ground support equipment to zero emission equipment;
4) Reduce air pollution from motor vehicle emissions.
The bill was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. It will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.