Tribal Transfer Station Receives New Refuse Truck
Aug 7, 2020
AKWESASNE – The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Environment Division announced the purchase of a new refuse truck for the Transfer Station. The truck was purchased with settlement funds awarded through a 2015 class action lawsuit overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Tribal Justice against Volkswagen (VW).
The VW settlement was initiated in 2015 when the car company admitted it had installed “cheat devices” on diesel-powered cars from 2009 through 2015. The devices enabled the vehicles’ engines to emit substantially fewer pollutants during emission tests compared to normal road use.
The settlement fund included an allocation of over $50 million for tribal beneficiaries to use for eligible mitigation projects. The amount allocated to Tribal communities is based on the 2010 U.S. Census that showed an Akwesasne community population of 3,292 people; which only represented approximately 45% of the actual population. As a result, SRMT received a total of $249,007; but the amount could have been significantly more and stresses the importance to be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census.
The new refuse truck is the second vehicle purchased using settlement funds. The first was a refuse truck purchased for SRMT Planning & Infrastructure Division. Each new vehicle will replace an older model truck, which has been taken off the road and destroyed, to increase efficiency and decrease our carbon footprint. The Transfer Station staff are confident that the new truck will make an impact on the Recycle Depot, an area on the territory where community members are able to bring their recyclables free of charge.
Air Quality Program Manager Angela Benedict spear-headed the project to secure funding through the VW settlement in a process that has spanned years. “The process to become a beneficiary was not an easy one. With the help of SRMT Legal and Accounting offices, and the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, we received beneficiary status, which now allows us to get funds allocated for at least the next few years,” explained Benedict.
Along with the purchase of two trucks, the monies were included to install electric vehicle charging stations in three locations: Ionkwakiohkwaro:ron Tribal Administration Building, SRMT Health Services Building, and Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort, free for the public to use. The charging stations should be installed and ready for use by the end of fall of 2020.
For more information, contact Air Quality Program Manager Angela Benedict at (518) 358-5937.