WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday awarded more than $8.7 million to replace or retrofit 452 older diesel school buses.
The funds are going to 141 school bus fleets in 32 states, each of which will receive rebates through the EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. According to the agency, the new and retrofitted buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.
"These rebates are an innovative way to improve air quality across the country and provide kids with safe, reliable transportation to and from school," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said. “Through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, EPA is equipping local school districts with cleaner-running school buses, helping them along the route to healthier kids and communities.”
Charlie Hood, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, said that the DERA school bus replacement program “has been instrumental in helping school districts and contractors replace older diesel school buses with newer buses that drastically reduce airborne emissions.”
Since 2008, DERA has funded more than 700 clean diesel projects across the country, reducing emissions in more than 70,000 engines, according to the EPA.
Blake Krapf, president of the National School Transportation Association, called the rebate program “another way we can provide the safest and cleanest form of transportation for our precious cargo of schoolchildren and for the communities in which they live.”
Applicants replacing school buses with engine model years 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus, depending on the size of the bus.
Applicants also had the option of retrofitting school buses with engine model years between 1994 and 2006 with a diesel oxidation catalyst, closed crankcase ventilation system, and fuel-operated heater to reduce emissions. EPA will fully fund the cost of these devices up to $6,000.
A list of the 2017 DERA school bus rebate recipients and other details on the program are available here.