When it comes to knowing and understanding the importance of school busing in the United States, there are few high ranking government employees in the Nation's Capitol like the EPA's Jim Blubaugh.
The Washington Post ran an interesting profile this week on Blubaugh, who heads the EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign and was in charge of the Clean School Bus USA program since its inception in 2003. Now that Clean School Bus is part of the National Clean Diesel Campaign, which has opened up more potential funding to the school transportation industry for retrofitting older, higher emissions school buses or purchasing newer, cleaner burning buses, Blubaugh continues to advocate for the yellow bus, especially as the industry continues to be eligible to receive ongoing Diesel Emissions Reduction Program funds.
The name will ring a bell to many who attended the National Association for Pupil Transportation conference in November as he was a featured presenter. Blubaugh also gave NAPT a $5 million grant to help school districts to reduce monthly lease payments for CNG buses. NAPT said the National School Bus Equity Investment Lease Program will provide funds that can be recycled year after year. Blubaugh told attendees that the EPA expects to leverage over $120 million over the course of the program.
Last week, he was in La Jolla, Calif., for the National School Transportation Association's Mid Winter Meeting to speak to private school bus operators and to help recognize member companies that achieved NSTA Green Fleet Certification status. Eleven companies in all received awards for achieving emissions reductions in a large percentage of their individual fleets by purchasing later model school buses with advanced engine controls and installing engine retrofit equipment.
"I'm convinced the [Clean School Bus USA] program would not be the success it is today without your support," Blubaugh told those in attendance.
The National Clean Diesel Campaign is responsible for $13 of society health benefits for ever $1 it spends on emissions control technology and vehicle replacement. During the 2008 fiscal year, it awarded $49.2 million to the medium- and heavy-duty bus and truck industries and $300 million last year with funds tied to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With applications still under review and awards expected to be announced soon, fiscal years 2009 and 2010 will see $120 million combined in funds.
NSTA recently announced a $2.443 million award it received from the EPA tied to DERA and ARRA money that went to three bus companies operating in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota for replacing buses and installing engine retrofit and idle reduction technology. Those companies, Dousman Transport, Riteway Bus, Durham School Services and M&M Bus Service also put up $5.314 million in matching funds. And the association is awaiting word on an additional grant request.
Of course, the school bus industry is competing with other sectors for this cash. But, as the Post points out and his relationship with NSTA proves, Blubaugh continues to be a key friend on Capitol Hill.