The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the availability of approximately $7 million in rebates to public school bus fleet owners to help them replace or retrofit older school buses with cleaner transportation technology, such as clean diesel, in order to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
As noted, the EPA will pay up to $3,000 for each retrofit system and between $15,000 and $25,000 per replacement bus, depending on size. The agency says applicants may request up to 10 buses for replacement and up to 10 buses for the retrofit option, whereas fleets with more than 101 buses in operation may submit two applications.
“Modernizing school bus fleets across the country with retrofits, replacements, and idle reduction practices helps reduce children’s exposure to air toxics,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “With the amount of time kids spend on buses, we need to protect them from the harm older diesel engines can cause.”
The EPA standards for new clean diesel engines make them more than 90% cleaner than older ones, but many older diesel engines still in operation predate these standards. Older diesel engines emit large quantities of pollutants such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, which have been linked to serious health problems such as aggravated asthma and lung damage.
The agency says eligible entitles include regional, state or local agencies; tribal governments or native villages; port authorities that have jurisdiction over transportation and air quality, including school districts and municipalities; and private entities that operate school buses under a contract with an entity listed prior.
The rebates will apply to school buses that meet the following criteria:
Used to transport 10 or more pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students to school or their homes;
Driven 10,000 or more miles over the last 12 months or in use three or more days per week during the school year; and
Class 3-8 diesel-powered buses over 10,001 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
Concerning replacements, buses powered by 2006 or older model year engines must be replaced with buses powered by a 2016 or newer model year engine and can qualify for $15,000-$25,000 per bus, depending on the GVWR of the replacement buses. Concerning retrofits, buses powered by 1994-2006 model year engines must be retrofitted with an EPA-verified Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) and Closed Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) system and have the option of adding a verified Fuel Operated Heater (FOH). The agency says DOC+CCV can qualify for up to $4,000, and DOC+CCV+FOH can qualify for up to $6,000 to cover parts and installation.
According to the EPA, this is the fourth rebate program to fund cleaner school buses offered under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) reauthorization, announcing $2 million in funding in 2012, $3 million in 2014, and $7 million in 2015. Nearly 25,000 buses across the country have already been made cleaner as a result of DERA funding, the agency notes.
“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 McCabe. “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.”
As reported, the EPA will accept applications from Sept. 29 to Nov. 1, 2016.