ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The American School Bus Council (ASBC) announced on Monday that it will present its first two School Bus Champion Awards to the EPA and the state of Utah at a ceremony later this week.

The School Bus Champion Award is a new program launched by ASBC to recognize individuals and entities who have displayed exceptional support for the advancement of the school bus industry. Officials said award recipients will include those whose leadership has produced demonstrable positive outcomes for the communities they serve, as well as the industry as a whole.

The EPA and the state of Utah will be recognized on Wednesday morning at the U.S. Capitol.

The EPA will be recognized in honor of the 10-year anniversary of its Clean School Bus Program, which officials said has been effective in working to reduce emissions from the nation’s fleet of yellow buses.

The program began as a bipartisan demonstration program and has since become part of a Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program that affects all diesel vehicles and equipment. While the program is much broader today than just school buses, the yellow school bus is still a major part of the program.

The EPA recently launched a clean school bus rebate program using $2 million in DERA funding that went to 30 recipients around the country to help buy new, cleaner buses.

Chris Grundler, director, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, will receive the award on behalf of the EPA.

Officials said the state of Utah’s work using EPA funding from the Clean School Bus Program is an example of the program’s effectiveness. Utah has leveraged more than $6 million in EPA grant funding and state matching funds to retrofit more than 1,200 buses statewide with emissions-control technology to help improve air quality.  

Murrell Martin, state director of pupil transportation, will accept the award on behalf of Utah.

Future School Bus Champion Awards will be presented at industry events around the country, according to ASBC. Awardees will be recognized for leadership in one of the following categories: safety, access to education, environmental benefits/stewardship and community impact.

The next award will be presented at the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference in Mobile, Ala., in July.

The award itself is a bronze-colored hand-cast metal school bus mounted on a walnut base that is inscribed to recognize the honoree(s).

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