DES MOINES — Iowa school districts are being offered two opportunities to reduce diesel emissions from their school bus fleets with a grant received by the DNR through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Bus Emissions Education Program, known as BEEP, is assisting with grant publicity and other roles in grant administration.
One opportunity is to receive a maximum reimbursement of $38,000 to replace a bus with a pre-1994 diesel engine in regular use with a new 2011 school bus with an EPA-certified 2010, or newer, diesel engine. School districts will be required to provide a minimum of $43,000 for the new bus and must also agree to install a combination of up to 20 closed crankcase ventilation systems and diesel oxidation catalysts on fleet buses with pre-2004 engines that will be fully reimbursed.
The other opportunity is full reimbursement of the purchase and installation of up to 20 closed crankcase ventilation systems and diesel oxidation catalysts on fleet buses with pre-2004 engines.
Applications are due Dec. 6. Grant awards are expected to be announced Jan. 24, 2012, pending approval by the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission.
Diesel bus engines manufactured before 1994 emit the most toxic diesel fine particles. Diesel oxidation catalysts replace mufflers and contain a honeycomb-like structure coated with an active catalyst layer that reduce harmful emissions by about 30 percent as they flow through the equipment. Closed crankcase ventilation systems remove 100 percent of the crankcase emissions that are generated while the engine is operating, removing the possibility of emissions building inside the bus cabin where students sit.
Judging is based primarily on five factors: 1) school district’s proximity to areas targeted for emissions reduction; 2) strength of school district’s idling reduction policy; 3) age and use of the bus to be replaced; 4) efforts school district makes to reduce air pollution, and 5) programs and curriculum the school district has for air quality, mobile source pollution and its effect on the earth’s atmosphere.
Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of diesel pollution because their lungs are still developing and they breathe 1.5 times the air volume for their size compared to adults.
Diesel engine emissions are responsible for hospital admissions, asthma attacks and other respiratory symptoms, and lost school and workdays. Additionally it causes visibility reduction and is a potent greenhouse agent involved in climate change.
The main objective of BEEP is to reduce childhood exposure to harmful diesel exhaust. Its objective is to reduce emissions in school bus fleets. BEEP was created through the collaborative effort of the School Administrators of Iowa, the Iowa Association of School Boards, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association.
More information about this grant and BEEP, including the grant application booklet, is available at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/AirQuality/BEEPSchoolBusEmissGrants.aspx.