Information now available on grants announced by an EPA rep at the recent NASDPTS conference that will be available to fund clean diesel projects such as new school bus purchases and engine and exhaust retrofits.
Jim Blubaugh of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality told NASDPTS attendees on Sunday that the feds were expected in the next week to announce that $50 million would be available next year for the National Clean Diesel Campaign that encompasses the old Clean School Bus USA program. The majority of money would be open to the competitive grant process, and Blubaugh added that $18 million would go directly to states to administer.
Once announced, proposals will be due to EPA regional offices by mid-January. The project review and award phase was expected to take place between April and July with project implementation to start in April and conclude by August.
Blubaugh said school transportation has received more federal attention than any other segment as 5,500 school buses have been affected by funding over the last several years. A total of $49.2 million in program funds was made available to all applicants in fiscal year 2008 with that total skyrocketing to $300 million in 2009 with provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as another $120 million over fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
School buses received $8 million in clean diesel funds in fiscal year 2008 plus another $2 million in matching funds. Of the ARRA money, $120 million went to replacing, retrofitting or repowering school buses, and on top of that came another $20 million in matching funds. The regular fiscal year appropriations for clean diesel in 2009 and 2010 resulted in an additional $20 million in school bus project awards plus $15 million matched by organizations.
Blubaugh explained that all project applications must include matching funds to convince EPA where it will get the most bang for its federal buck.
"All that helps impact your application," he added. "That's one of the many things we look at."
EPA studies have shown that existing National Clean Diesel Campaign programs lower particulate matter by 30,000 tons and realize $5 billion in health benefits, or $13 in health benefits for every dollar spent making vehicles cleaner.