By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Using money the state received from its settlement with Volkswagen, Manchester will swap out about 14 diesel school buses and replace them with cleaner ones that use propane.
The deal, which is being handled by the state Office of Strategic Initiatives in conjunction with the Manchester Transit Authority, will help clean up the air and improve the environment, said Jared Chicoine, director of the state Office of Strategic Initiatives.
A little more than half of the cost, or $750,000 will come from a settlement with the German automaker after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency went to court alleging that the VWs were violating the Clean Air Act by selling approximately 590,000 vehicles that emitted higher than standard levels of oxides of nitrogen.
The Executive Council approved the contract on Wednesday to reduce air pollution and it has been doing so for the state’s fleet of other vehicles. As part of the settlements, Volkswagen is required to provide $2.7 billion for the 2.0 liter violating vehicles and $225 million for the 3.0 liter violating vehicles to an Environmental Mitigation Trust.
This, EPA argues, is to fully remediate the number of excess oxides of nitrogen emissions from the illegal vehicles.
The company also was involved in buybacks and modification offers. The trust agreements held that the funds can be used by states to replace dirty vehicles provided they get rid of and recycle the old vehicles.
The state’s Fish and Game Department recently agreed to purchase a number of trucks for its fleet also using this Volkswagen fund and it got about 52 percent of the eligible expenses reimbursed by the trust.
Beneficiaries are all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and federally recognized tribes. To get these funds for public use, Manchester had to agree to use the new propane buses for at least five years, make no modifications to the emission controls on them and make all maintenance records available. A total of $1.4 million for the MTA buses will be spent.
In other Executive Council action, it received a letter of intent to retire from New Hampshire State Police Col. Christopher Wagner as of March 2, 2020.
The number one cop in the state, a resident of Litchfield, said he is “eternally grateful” for the great people, partnerships and relationships he formed.Paragraph
“As I move into my 25th year with state police and fourth year as the Colonel, I am continually reminded about the exceptional commitment, can-do spirit and resolve of our employees. I could not be more proud of their hard work and persistence as they set out each and every day performing their duties,” Wagner wrote.
The Council also agreed to acquire the fee title to 123 acres in the town of Sutton for $110,000 for the state Fish and Game Department.
Known as the Daniel Holland Tract, the land is adjacent to a 118-acre wildlife management area and the department held an easement. It will become part of the Cascade Marsh Wildlife Management Area. The purchase is coming from federal funds for wildlife habitat.
It also authorized the state Division of Forests and Lands to exchange with the town of Hopkinton at no cost to the state, 30 acres of state-owned land known as “Contoocook State Forest” for a 97-acre parcel of land known as the “Hopkinton Town Forest” that abuts Mast Yard State Forest.