New EPA Clean School Bus Funding to Help Improve Air Quality in School Districts Around U.S.
Washington, D.C. — The new funding for cleaner school buses announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will allow for significant air quality improvements by replacing older diesel buses with newer, more efficient technology – primarily advanced clean diesel technology.
EPA announced today the awarding of $7.7 million to replace or retrofit 401 older diesel school buses in 27 states under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA).
“These funds will enable school districts to acquire the most advanced, reliable and efficient technology that will deliver kids to school in clean air and energy-saving style,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director, of the Diesel Technology Forum. “We expect that like in previous years, over 90 percent of these transit agencies will choose clean diesel over other fuel types.
“School transportation officials recognize that new technology diesels not only are more reliable and available than alternative fuels, but that they also have low-emissions and cost far less, helping keep more school funds in the classrooms than on the parking lots.”
2015 School Bus Rebate Program – Replacement Bus Technologies
“New clean diesel buses have advanced to the point that they have reduced NOx and particulate matter emissions by as much as 95 percent compared to the older buses they will replace,” Schaeffer said.
The rebate program is a component of DERA that helps eligible school districts and school transportation providers to help defray the cost of scrapping older buses and purchase new clean vehicles. The rebate program provides up to $25,000 to replace the largest school buses. Rebate funding provides only a share of the total cost of a new school bus purchase. The program is enormously popular as applicants requested $44 million in funding assistance for only $7.7 million in available funding.
DERA Has Provided a 13-to-1 Cost-Benefit Ratio in Health & Environmental Benefits
More than 73,000 older diesel powered engines have been upgraded or replaced between 2008 to 2013 because of DERA funding, according to a 2016 EPA report - “Third Report to Congress: Highlights from the Diesel Emission Reduction Program”.
“DERA has been a true environmental success story,” Schaeffer said. “DERA has a proven track record of reducing emissions and improving air quality in all 50 states. According to EPA, DERA delivers a $13:1 return on investment, and often the return is even higher when considering matching funds at a rate of 2-or-3 to 1 that further enhance the investments.
“And nowhere has the effectiveness of DERA more pronounced than the school bus rebate program,” said Schaeffer. “Interested school bus operators are provided just enough incentive funding to scrap and replace older buses as opposed to selling that older bus on the secondary market.”
Since its creation in 2005, DERA has been supported by a bipartisan coalition of several hundred environmental and public health organizations, industry representatives, and state and local government associations including the American Lung Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists and National School Transportation Association. These groups continue to work together in educating Congress about these benefits and the importance of continued funding for the program.
EPA Regulations Have Virtually Eliminated Emissions from New Diesel Buses & Trucks
Schaeffer said diesel power systems have undergone revolutionary technological advancements that have already achieved dramatic reductions in emissions for urban buses and highway engines. Advances in emissions-control systems and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD), biodiesel and renewable diesel are helping clean diesel engines achieve emissions performance equivalent to compressed natural gas (CNG) and other alternatives, but without the costs and limitations of these technologies.
"Today, meeting EPA’s clean air regulations means that engine manufacturers have virtually eliminated emissions by utilizing state of the art particulate filters and advanced selective catalytic reduction technology to cut smog-forming emissions to near zero levels," Schaeffer said.
Clean Air Task Force Emissions Study
Schaeffer said an analysis by the Clean Air Task Force illustrated the major emissions gains clean diesel buses have achieved. The analysis shows the air quality benefits of replacing older buses with newer clean diesel technology and a comparison of clean diesel and CNG buses.