The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $8.7 million in rebates to 141 school bus operations nationwide to assist in reducing fleet emissions.
EPA standards require newer diesel engines to be more than 90 percent cleaner, but many older diesel school buses are still in operation, the agency pointed out. These older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which are linked to instances of aggravated asthma, lung damage and other serious health problems.
The rebate funds via the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act will replace or retrofit 452 older diesel buses in 32 states with engine model years 2006 and older. The funds range between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus, depending on vehicle size.
EPA will fully fund the cost of Diesel Oxidation Catalyst, Closed Crankcase Ventilation system, and Fuel Operated Heater, for up to $6,000 for school buses with engine model years between 1994 to 2006.
“These rebates are an innovative way to improve air quality across the country and provide kids with safe, reliable transportation to and from school,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, EPA is equipping local school districts with cleaner-running school buses, helping them along the route to healthier kids and communities.”
Charlie Hood, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, said the yellow school bus has been a focal point of EPA efforts to reduce diesel emissions. EPA launched its Clean School Bus USA program 15 years ago, and DERA has since encapsulated that campaign in its efforts to address multiple transportation sources of harmful emissions.
“The DERA School Bus Replacement program has been instrumental in helping school districts and contractors replace older diesel school buses with newer buses that drastically reduce airborne emissions,” he added in a statement on Thursday. “The program is one of the most administratively simple within the federal government and has been extremely cost-effective at achieving its intended goals. America’s students and taxpayers are the beneficiaries.”
Private school bus companies also benefit from the funds. The National School Transportation Association strongly supports the program, said organization President Blake Krapf. “It is another way we can provide the safest and cleanest form of transportation for our precious cargo of school children and for the communities in which they live,” he added.