EPA Funds Reduce School Bus Emissions in New Jersey School District

EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan displays a dirty hanky from the tailpipe emissions of a 1998 diesel-powered bus.
EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan displays a dirty hanky from the tailpipe emissions of a 1998 diesel-powered bus.

Toms River Regional School District on New Jersey’s East Coast is using $200,000 in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rebate money to purchase 10 gasoline- and propane-powered school buses to replace older diesel buses.

Toms River has now replaced 29 buses by using $545,000 in funds over the past three years. EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan was joined by Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent David Healy for the announcement at the Toms River’s transportation department on Oct. 16. They discussed the importance of programs like EPA’s diesel emissions reduction program.

This is the seventh rebate program to fund cleaner school buses offered under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) appropriations. Over the past seven years, the EPA has awarded about $39 million in rebates to replace almost 2,000 school buses nationwide. Meanwhile, overall DERA funding has replaced or retrofitted nearly 30,000 buses nationwide.

“EPA is partnering with Toms River Regional Schools to scrap the older, dirty buses to ensure that they will not be put back on the road,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “We are progressively reducing diesel pollution and will soon make that familiar black puff of smoke a relic of the past. Reducing air pollution from diesel engines has enormous benefits for the health of our children and our communities.”

Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent David Healy commented, “To be rewarded for doing the right thing—providing our students safe, clean transportation while reducing our carbon footprint—with savings we can reinvest into the classroom is a remarkable opportunity, and we are sincerely grateful to the EPA.”

Healy also observed that the funds have helped to make the district “a better, safer, healthier place to learn and work.”

Toms River Regional School District and EPA Region 2 officials then performed a white towel demonstration to show how much dirtier tailpipe emissions are from older diesel school buses compared to gasoline and propane.

The EPA standards for new diesel engines can make them more than 90 percent cleaner than older ones, but many older diesel engines still in operation predate these standards.

EPA funds projects that reduce emissions from existing diesel engines, as appropriated annually by Congress. Previously, the EPA announced that about $10 million in clean school bus rebates are available nationwide. The application period ends on Oct. 30.

EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan displayed the results of a white towel test on a 1998 diesel-powered bus that is set to be scrapped as part of the replacement program.
EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan displayed the results of a white towel test on a 1998 diesel-powered bus that is set to be scrapped as part of the replacement program.
EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan compared the two test results; the new clean bus towel on the left versus the dirty old bus towel on the right.
EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan compared the two test results; the new clean bus towel on the left versus the dirty old bus towel on the right.
EPA reps stand with district administrators and transportation personnel after the EPA conducted its "white hanky" test, exhibiting the difference in emissions from an old diesel bus (far right) with newer-model gas (far left) and propane vehicles.
EPA reps stand with Toms River Regional School District administrators and transportation personnel following white towel test, which showed the difference in emissions between an old diesel bus (far right), a newer-model gas (far left) and propane vehicles.