JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The state of Missouri is looking for input on how to spend $41 million from a national settlement with Volkswagen over the German automaker’s emissions cheating scandal.

Options include buying more electric vehicles, replacing diesel engines and installing charging stations throughout the state, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported . That could mean upgrades for school and public transportation buses or trucks.

Missouri was awarded the money after it was discovered that Volkswagen violated federal clean air laws by equipping diesel vehicles with devices to cheat emissions tests. Missourians bought about 7,500 affected vehicles, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Most were bought in the St. Louis area.

Volkswagen ultimately settled with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing in 2016 to pay $14 billion.

Missouri can use its share to pay for equipment that counteracts negative health effects and pollution that could have been caused by the emissions.

The Sierra Club and utility company Ameren told the Post-Dispatch that the organizations want to see the money used to buy more electric buses for St. Louis and to pay for electric charging stations. The state can use 15 percent of funds for infrastructure.

Kyra Moore, who oversees clean air programs for the Department of Natural Resources, said the agency is neutral on how the money is spent.

“We are gathering the testimony. We want to hear from others,” Moore said. “There is a lot of interest in this money.”

The agency is holding hearings and trying to gauge public opinion through January. Upcoming hearings are scheduled for Nov. 30 in Springfield and Dec. 7 in Jefferson City.

According to an estimated timeline from the department’s website, the Department of Natural Resource is aiming to release a proposed plan in February or March for public review.

Moore told the Post-Dispatch that the earliest the state might tap into the funds is mid-2018.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com