New funding from the EPA will be used to replace or retrofit 401 older diesel school buses. Photo by Shane Kirley

New funding from the EPA will be used to replace or retrofit 401 older diesel school buses. Photo by Shane Kirley

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday awarded more than $7.7 million to replace or retrofit 401 older diesel school buses.

The availability of the latest round of school bus rebates was announced in September.

The funds are going to 88 school bus fleets in 27 states, each of which will receive rebates through the EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. According to the EPA, the new and retrofitted buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.

“Thanks to DERA funding, we are protecting our children from breathing diesel emissions as they travel to school,” said Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “Nearly 17,000 of our country's schools are located within steps of a heavily traveled road, potentially exposing more than 6 million children to traffic-related pollution at a time when their developing lungs are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution.”

Applicants replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $25,000, 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 plus closed crankcase ventilation system to reduce toxic emissions. The EPA will fully fund the cost of these devices up to $4,000.

Since 2008, the DERA program has funded more than 700 clean diesel projects across the country, reducing emissions in more than 70,000 engines, according to the EPA.

The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) applauded the school bus rebate program and its inclusion of private contractors along with public operators.

"We appreciate this funding aimed toward creating a cleaner environment through the use of available technologies as well as investing in the latest bus technology," said Ronna Weber, executive director of NSTA. "We congratulate all recipients."

To view the list of 2016 DERA school bus rebate recipients, and for more information about the program, go here.

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