A new report from the U.S. EPA claims that $520 million in grant funds awarded from 2009 throught 2013 has helped to reduce 1,700 premature deaths and $11 billion in monetized and $12.6 billion in cumulative health benefits, while also saving 450,000 gallons of fuel.
The statistics are just a few of many provided in the third report to Congress on the effectiveness of the National Clean Diesel Emission Program, part of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, or DERA. The federal funds have also prevented the emissions of 18,900 tons of hydrocarbon and more than 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide, which the EPA added, is equivalent to the annual emissions from about 900,000 cars.
Over the four-year period studied for the report, EPA said 58,800 engines in vehicles, vessels, locomotives or other pieces of equipment were retrofitted or replaced, with about 40 percent of those being for school buses, according to the report. Over the lifetime of those engines, EPA added that emissions will be reduced by 312,500 tons of oxided of nitrogen (NOx), 12,000 tons of particulate matter (PM), 18,900 tons of hydrocarbon (HC) and 58,700 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
“EPA is making a visible difference in communities that need it most through the funding of cleaner trucks, buses, trains, and other heavy equipment,” said Janet McCabe, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, in a statement. “The report on DERA’s impact offers striking evidence that this program is succeeding in providing Americans with cleaner air where they live and work while also cutting the pollution that fuels climate change.”
Specifically speaking to the School Bus Replacement Grant Program, the report said EPA will likely fund more projects in the future because "these rebates make a visible impact in communities across the country by providing children with healthier rides to school." The program, EPA added, has reduced 11 tons of PM, 215 tons of NOX, 18 tons of HC and 78 tons of carbon monoxide.
Last year, more than 530 school districts and bus contractors applied to EPA’s 2015 School Bus Rebate Replacement Program, requesting over $50 million in funding. Eighty-five entities ended up receiving more than $7 million in available grants. EPA said it is focusing on replacing older school buses rather than retrofits because newer, clean diesel school buses already come equipped from the factory with emissions reduction technologies.
Christopher Grundler, EPA’s director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told school children in Arlington, Virginia, during an American School Bus Council Love the Bus event last year that clean diesel school buses offer 90 percent cleaner emissions than older diesel buses. The report states that nearly 13,000 diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), plus closed crankcase ventilation, have been installed on school buses with DERA funding, as well as approximately 1,400 diesel particulate filters (DPFs). The EPA said the DOCs alone reduces PM by 20 percent and DPFs can reduce PM by up to 99 percent.
In March 2013, Jim Blubaugh, then deputy director of EPA's Transportation and Climate Division, confirmed for School Transportation News that the school bus segment had up till then received the largest share of funds from among eligible fleets since DERA since began in 2007 and encapsulated the previous Clean School Bus USA program also administered by the EPA.
"The school transportation community has been a great partner for EPA's diesel emissions reduction program," said Blubaugh. "School bus fleets across the country, both public and private, have retrofitted and replaced older diesel buses, providing a healthier ride for thousands of school children daily. We look forward to more collaboration in the future."