WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering a new round of funding to reduce emissions from older diesel vehicles, including school buses.
The agency announced on Wednesday that it expects to give out between 20 and 80 grants totaling at least $11 million in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funds for clean diesel projects.
The news comes amid uncertainty about the fate of the DERA program in the Trump administration’s budgeting. The DERA funding has reportedly been one target of proposed cuts.
In March, a coalition of groups advocated for DERA in a letter to new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Although the level of future funding for the program remains unclear at this point, the new grant opportunity came as welcome news to supporters, including the National School Transportation Association (NSTA).
"NSTA is delighted to see this latest DERA grant opportunity from EPA," NSTA Executive Director Ronna Weber said. "School buses not only ensure the safest ride to school every day, but clean school buses guarantee a better environment for the communities they serve."
In announcing the new round of funding on Wednesday, a statement from the EPA evoked the Trump administration’s stated aim of supporting economic growth in its policies and regulations, including those that involve environmental issues.
"DERA is a bipartisan program to help fleet companies improve regional air quality, proving that good environmental policy can go hand in hand with good business," Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said in a press release.
The funding can be used for such clean diesel projects as retrofit devices to curb emissions, idle-reduction technologies, low rolling-resistance tires, and early replacement of engines and vehicles.
The EPA noted that it will give preference to fleets in areas that are designated as having poor air quality.
The agency will conduct two webinars in May to provide information and answer questions about the 2017 DERA funding program.
The deadline for proposals is June 20. For more information and details on how to apply, go here.
Since the first year of the DERA program in 2008, the EPA has awarded about 690 grants across the nation, many of them to fund cleaner diesel engines that operate in economically disadvantaged communities.
The agency’s call for DERA proposals last year offered $26 million in grants.