Advocates leery as Minnesota legislators seek role in VW settlement

As Minnesota lawmakers seek more oversight over how $47 million in Volkswagen settlement funds are spent, advocates warn bills in the legislature could cause the state to lose the money altogether. Attorney Leili Fatehi, owner and principal of the public benefit corporation Apparatus, says the consent decree requires that states follow a certain process in distributing money from the settlement and several proposed bills could negate the settlement. “It’s pretty reckless legislation,” said Fatehi, who would like to see some of the money spent on environmental justice initiatives to help clean up disadvantaged neighborhoods. The debate over who gets to hold the purse strings of the settlement money pits the governor’s office and executive branch against legislators who firmly believe they should – and will – have a say in which projects receive money. Fatehi said the tussle is being watched closely by the Great Plains Institute, Fresh Energy (which publishes Midwest Energy News) and other organizations in the energy field.