School districts and private contractor companies in 88 communities in 27 states are divvying up $7.7 million in EPA rebates to replace or retrofit older diesel school buses.
The 2016 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act awards were announced on Thursday. In all, 401 school buses are affected.
EPA said applicants replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on the size of the bus.
Applicants were also given the option of retrofitting school buses with engine model years between 1994 to 2006 with a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst and a Closed Crankcase Ventilation system (DOC plus CCV) to reduce toxic emissions. EPA is fully funding the cost of these devices up to $4,000.
March is the deadline for winning districts and bus companies to submit purchase orders for replacement buses and retrofits, with September being the deadline for submitting payment documentation demonstrating installation of retrofits, delivery of replacement buses and scrappage of old buses.
EPA said rebate payments will be sent to winners within one month after receipt of payment documentation.
South Carolina, which operates the oldest school buses in the nation, tallied the most awards with 11 local areas receiving a total of $2 million to replace or retrofit 52 school buses for districts in the Columbia area. The funds will go to the South Carolina Department of Education, which owns, operates and maintains nearly all of the state’s 5,600 school buses.
Other big winners were New York (seven communities), Ohio (six communities), New Jersey (five communities) and Indiana (five communities). Another 15 states received more than one award.
The DERA program has funded more than 700 clean diesel projects across the country since 2008, reducing emissions in more than 70,000 engines.
“Thanks to DERA funding, we are protecting our children from breathing diesel emissions as they travel to school,” said Christopher Grundler, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “Nearly 17,000 of our country's schools are located within steps of a heavily traveled road, potentially exposing more than six million children to traffic-related pollution at a time when their developing lungs are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution.”