By Zach Shahan and Johnna Crider
If you thought “clean diesel” was a scam long left in our automotive past, you haven’t met the Donald Trump “Environmental Protection Agency” being run by former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler.
The EPA is awarding over $2.23 million for supposed “clean diesel” projects in Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Nine organizations in EPA Region 7 were chosen to receive the funding from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) National Grants Program funding.
EPA Administrator and former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler announced over $73 million in grants and funding were expected to be awarded to support numerous “clean diesel” programs and projects across the country at both the state and local level.
“New diesel engines operate cleaner than older engines, and for each dollar invested in clean diesel projects, communities get $13 in cumulative health benefits,” said Wheeler.
The list of recipients, project, and funds awarded are as follows:
- National Biodiesel Foundation (IA), DOT Utility Truck Replacement and Biodiesel Use, $123,252.
- City of Davenport, Iowa, Dump Truck Replacement Project, $116,250.
- American Lung Association, KS, Short Haul and Nonroad Replacement and Locomotive Idle Reduction Project, $1,381,957.
- Leonardo Academy Inc., MO, Propane School Bus Replacement Project, $218,944.
- Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, (MO), Madison and Perry Counties Municipal Vehicle Replacement Project, $64,725.
- Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, (MO), Ste. Genevieve County Municipal Vehicle Replacement Project, $47,453
- Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, (MO), Cape Girardeau County Municipal Vehicle Replacement Project. $43,964
Luckily, there is some funding going into electric school buses, too. Earlier this spring, the US Environmental Protection Agency awarded 23 Missouri school districts and one Missouri school bus transportation company $1,030,000 to replace 52 older diesel school buses. The funds awarded are part of $11.5 million in funding aimed at replacing 580 buses for 157 school bus fleets in 43 states and Puerto Rico. Each will receive rebates through the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. The new buses will reduce pollutants linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.
The program awarded the funds while celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford shared his thoughts. “We believe protecting the health of our children and youth is one of our primary missions,” he said. “Removing old diesel-engines from our roads and replacing them with reduced-emission engines will provide further protection.”
The school districts and bus transportation company receiving funds are:
- Bowling Green R-I School District $20,000; 1 bus.
- Exeter R-VI School District. $40,000; 2 buses.
- Farmington R-& School $120,000; 6 buses.
- Festus R-VI School District $115,000; 6 buses.
- Hillsboro R-III School District $20,000; 1 bus.
- Jarnik Buses $60,000; 3 buses.
- Lewis County C-1 School District $40,000; 2 buses.
- Logan Rogersville School District $60,000; 3 buses.
- Louisiana RII School District $20,000; 1 bus.
- Neelyville R-IV School District $20,000; 1 bus.
- Nixa Public Schools $60,000; 1 bus.
- North Callaway R-1 School District $40,000; 2 buses.
- Oran R-III School District $20,000; 1 bus.
- Plato R-VSchool District $20,000; 1 bus.
- Richards R-V School Disctrict $20,000; 1 bus.
- Risco R-II School District $20,000; 1 bus.
- Rolla 31 Public Schools $100,000; 5 buses.
- Shelby County C-9 School District $40,000; 2 buses.
- Southland C-9 School District $40,000; 2 buses.
- Sullivan School District $40,000; 2 buses.
- Thayer R-II School District $15,000; 1 bus.
- Willard Public Schools R2 $40,000; 2 buses.
- Winston R-VI School District $20,000; 1 bus.
“Last year, I was proud to sponsor the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, which extended the EPA’s grant program to retrofit older diesel engines to make them cleaner and more efficient,” Billy Long, a Congressman from Missouri, said. “This initiative has proven to be one of the EPA’s most cost-effective ways of reducing harmful pollutants. … Grants through this program will go directly toward upgrading diesel school buses in Missouri’s 7th district, ensuring that our children breathe cleaner air on their way to and from school.”
Charlie Hood, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), spoke on the unfortunate age we are in but also the fortunate timing of the EPA’s School Bus Rebate Program in this time.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Those replacing buses with engine model years 2006 and older will receive rebates ranging from $14,000 to $20,000 per bus depending on the size of the bus. The EPA’s new standards aim to make newer diesel engines more than 90% cleaner. Despite this, however, many older diesel school buses are still in operation. These older buses emit large amounts of pollution filled with nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These pollutants are linked to aggravated asthma, lung damage, and other serious health issues.