(Lenexa, Kan., April 23, 2020) - Today, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a total of $200,000 to seven Nebraska districts to replace 10 older diesel school buses.
The funds are part of $11.5 million to replace 580 buses for 157 school bus fleets in 43 states and Puerto Rico, each of which will receive rebates through EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. The new buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.
"Earth Day’s primary goal is to protect the environment for future generations. These rebates help do just that by continuing to improve air quality across the country and providing children with a safe and healthy way to get to school," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “While many fleets are currently off the road, when these local school districts start up again, EPA and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act have helped equip them with cleaner running buses, moving farther along the route to healthier kids and communities.”
“We believe protecting the health of our children and youth is one of our primary missions,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Removing old diesel engines from our roads and replacing them with reduced-emission engines will provide further protection.”
School districts receiving funds include:
Centennial Public School
Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools
Falls City Public Schools
Fremont Public School District
Lincoln Public Schools
Mitchell Public Schools
Sandhills Public Schools
“On behalf of the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), and in recognition of the 50th Earth Day, we would like to express our continued gratitude and support to EPA for their stewardship of the DERA program,” said NSTA president John Benish. “As our partnership continues to grow, many school bus contractors around the country have been able to upgrade their fleets with newer, cleaner, and more efficient buses. The beneficiaries of this partnership are the school children we transport every day, as well as the communities where we operate. We look forward to advancing this cause even more in the future.”
“Sometimes you don’t miss something until it’s not there, and many parents miss sending their kids to school on the convenient yellow school bus right now,” said Executive Director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) Charlie Hood. “After we weather the coronavirus crisis, be assured that school buses will return, transporting students safely and economically. Especially with the budget challenges public schools will be facing for the foreseeable future, the EPA’s School Bus Rebate program is a boon. It helps school districts and contractors replace their old school buses with new ones that are more cost-effective and meet stringent, modern standards for reduced emissions and clean air. This 50th Earth Day is a great time to mark how DERA has been a plus for both taxpayers and the environment.”
Applicants replacing buses with engine model years 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus, depending on the size of the bus.
EPA has implemented standards to make newer diesel engines more than 90% cleaner, but many older diesel school buses are still operating. 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.
Since 2008, the DERA program has funded more than 1,000 clean diesel projects across the country, reducing emissions in more than 70,000 engines. A comprehensive list of the 2020 DERA school bus recipients can be found online.