U.S. states are about to receive a windfall — their portion of the $2.7 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust fund established by Volkswagen in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal.
State legislators, who will ultimately decide how to spend those shares of the money, may be tempted to use the millions to plug budget shortfalls or fund pet projects, as was the case in many states from the $100 billion tobacco settlement in 1998.
They should resist that temptation.
Legislators might have a bigger impact by, for example, helping school districts upgrade their aging bus fleets or incentivizing trucking companies to get older, higher-polluting vehicles off the road.
In short, the funds are best spent on their intended purpose: reducing air pollution.