The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded five Missouri school districts and a school bus company $672,540 in grants to replace 18 older, dirtier buses with newer, cleaner buses, including 10 propane-powered buses.

The grants were part of more than $77 million awarded to projects that reduce diesel emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of older, dirtier engines and vehicles.

Award recipients and grant amounts for new cleaner diesel buses include:

  • Community R-VI School District, $25,875
  • Winona R-III School District, $29,183
  • Wheatland R-II Schools, $38,608
  • Platte County R3 School District, $47,500
  • Sikeston R-6 Schools, $81,667

In addition, sustainable-services nonprofit Leonardo Academy Inc., serving Independence School District, will receive $449,707 for propane powered vehicles.

“Cleaner trucks, buses, boats, and heavy equipment keep local economies thriving while better protecting the health of the people living and working near ports, schools, and along delivery routes,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Combined with $5 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law going to electric and alternative fuel school buses over the coming months and years, EPA is leading an unprecedented investment in cleaner air for communities across the country.”

“It is important that we continue to retire older, dirtier buses from school fleets,” said Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu. “Protecting children’s health continues to be one of our highest priorities at our schools and within our communities.”

EPA awarded 55 Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) National Grants covering a wide range of projects to reduce diesel emissions, including upgrades to school buses, port equipment, and construction equipment. Nineteen of these awards will support replacing older diesel equipment with zero-emission technologies, such as transportation refrigeration units, terminal tractors, drayage trucks, refuse trucks, a locomotive, and a port ship-to-shore gantry crane. All 55 projects will reduce diesel pollution and benefit local communities, many of which are facing environmental justice concerns.

Award selection prioritized projects that:

  • Are in areas designated as having poor air quality
  • Reduce emissions from ports and other goods movement facilities
  • Benefit local communities
  • Incorporate local communities in project planning
  • Demonstrate an ability to continue efforts to reduce emissions after the project has ended

EPA also awarded $24 million under its 2021 DERA State Grants program to 49 states and three territories to implement their own diesel emissions reduction programs locally. This program allows states to target funds toward the diesel emissions reduction projects that best align with local priorities. MoDNR was awarded $524,064 to operate a diesel emissions reduction program in the state.

In addition to DERA, following the recent passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), EPA will offer a total of $5 billion between fiscal years 2022 and 2026 to fund replacement of dirtier school buses with low- or no-carbon school buses. Each year, $500 million will be available exclusively for electric school buses and $500 million will be available for electric buses and multiple types of cleaner, alternative fuel school buses. EPA is actively working to ensure that DERA funding, including BIL funding, maximizes benefits directed to underserved communities.