EPA Awards $10M to Reduce School Bus Emissions

The EPA is awarding more than $10 million to school districts across 40 states to reduce harmful school bus emissions. The funding comes as policymakers explore new programs to provide electric buses to U.S. schools.

School bus
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will award $10.5 million to replace or upgrade 473 diesel school buses in 40 states, according to a Tuesday news release from the agency. The EPA says the funding aims to reduce harmful pollutants related to asthma and other respiratory illnesses as policymakers consider additional federal programs geared toward cutting school bus emissions.

According to an EPA announcement, recipients will receive rebates through EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding program. The program will provide between $20,000 and $65,000 to replace or modify diesel buses from 2006 and older.

Among other recipients, the EPA awarded $480,000 to the South Carolina Department of Education to upgrade 24 outdated diesel school bus engines in 10 districts. The funding will be geared toward modernizing buses in Clarendon, Florence, Kershaw, Lexington, Marion, Newberry, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union schools.

EPA officials said the funding could be used to purchase new electric buses. South Carolina Department of Education spokesperson Ryan Brown said the funds would go toward updating old diesel engines, but he gave no further details.

"The South Carolina Department of Education is grateful to receive this funding which will continue the efforts of replacing our state's aging fleet with cleaner and more efficient buses," South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a news release.

The EPA funding was announced last week when Democratic Party lawmakers proposed $25 billion for electric school buses as part of Biden's infrastructure plan. The legislation was introduced weeks after the Biden administration announced plans at the end of March for an EPA-led Clean Buses for Kids program as part of his American Jobs Plan.

“The proposed clean bus plan would build on and expand this type of clean bus assistance to local communities that EPA has been doing under DERA since 2008,” the EPA said in an emailed statement to Government Technology

In a news release, Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Sen. Tom Carper, D-DE, said he expects further federal investments geared toward reducing school bus emissions to build upon EPA DERA funding.

“With President Biden in the White House and Michael Regan at the helm of EPA, I’m excited for the opportunity to grow programs like DERA that strengthen our economy and address the climate crisis,” he said.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.