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Florida Is Getting Millions As Part Of The VW Settlement. How Do You Want It Spent?

Florida wants to spend about $116 million of its share of the Volkswagon emissions settlement to replace dirty buses. The public has until Friday to comment.

Two years after Volkswagen agreed to settle an emissions cheating scandal that paid millions to states where the dirty vehicles were sold, Florida is ready to decide how to spend its $166 million.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection published its draft plan last month. Friday is the last day for the public to comment.

Under the plan, the state is proposing to spend 70 percent of the money to replace aging school, transit and shuttle buses. Fifteen percent would be spent on charging stations and other equipment needed for zero emissions vehicles. Anther 15 percent would be spent on reducing diesel . The state says its overall goal is to reduce hazardous emissions by replacing dirty vehicles with electric or alternative fuel-powered buses, trucks and cars.

The plan also calls for focusing on areas where the most people are affected — Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe are among the highest in the state — and finding projects that cut carbon at the cheapest per ton rate.

That last goal has raised some questions among conservationists who fear the state will use the money to buy fossil-fuel powered vehicles. 

"That leaves the door open to fossil fuel buses," Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Florida Director Susan Glickman said in an email. "They do not explicitly say 'all electric.'"

An FDEP spokeswoman did not respond to two emails requesting clarification. 

The public has until Friday to weigh in. Comments should be emailed to VWMitigation@FloridaDEP.gov by 5 p.m.

Jenny Staletovich has been a journalist working in Florida for nearly 20 years.