SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Ted Kulongoski in June signed into law a bill that will require all diesel school buses statewide to meet the EPA’s 2007 emissions standards within about 15 years.
Under the law, older diesel-powered school buses must be retrofitted with emissions-control technology by Jan. 1, 2017. This includes particulate matter filters.
Those school buses that are too old to be retrofitted must be replaced by Jan. 1, 2025, with buses manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2007.
Steven Huillet, pupil transportation director at the Oregon Department of Education, followed the legislation’s progress and supports the law. He believes it will have a positive impact and substantially reduce exhaust emissions throughout the state.
He also feels that it will be fairly easy for operations to meet the regulations given Oregon’s bus replacement schedule.
“It shouldn’t be too much out of what operations’ normal replacement schedules were going to be. There are 3,500 buses manufactured from 1994 to 2006. An average of 300 buses are replaced annually, and operations have until 2017 for retrofits — most of the buses are going to get replaced in that time,” Huillet said.
Moreover, there are only 256 buses that were manufactured prior to 1994 buses, leading Huillet to believe that they, too, will be replaced before 2025.
He also said he feels that meeting the regulations will not be a financial burden for districts due to another piece of legislation recently approved by the governor — Senate Bill 610.
Under this law, the state Board of Education — in determining approved transportation costs for school fund distributions — must include costs to retrofit or replace school buses for emissions-reduction purposes and cannot deduct grant money received from the Clean Diesel Engine Fund for these purposes.