EPA’s Clean School Bus Program and DERA Grants

Every day, 25 million children in the U.S. spend an average of an hour and a half on public school buses to get to and from school. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus USA program began in 2003 to assist school districts replace older buses with new, low-emission buses to improve air quality and the health of American children. The program was originally funded by penalty funds collected by EPA.

The passage of H.R. 3, a bill to extend the nation’s highway programs, brought about a revised version of the program (see H.R. 3, Section 6015). The Diesel Emissions Reduction Program (DERA) was created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) and gave EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign (NCDC) the authority to distribute up to $200 million per year for fiscal years (FY) 2007 to 2011. The revised program continues to provide grants to assist school districts replace or repower older school buses with new natural gas buses or natural gas conversion systems. However, the Clean School Bus program is now a part of a range of other programs funded by DERA that reduce the diesel emissions of buses, trucks, locomotives, marine vessels, and other diesel powered machines.

In FY2008, Congress appropriated funds for DERA for the first time in the amount of $49.2 million. An additional $300 million in potential funds came by way of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (Public Law No. 111–05). EPA awarded 90 grants and assistance agreements totaling $156 million in Recovery Act funds.

In December of 2010, the Senate and the House passed legislation (H.R. 5809) that became the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-364). The DERA Act of 2010, or DERA 2, amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and reauthorizes the DERA grant program to award up to $100 million per year for FY2012 to FY2016. The Clean School Bus program was extended with no amendments. DERA 2 removes the requirement that 50 percent of funds be used for public fleets and removes restrictions on using funds for programs mandated by state or local law. These funds will continue to support projects that strategically reduce diesel emissions.

EPA distributes DERA funds through seven regional collaboratives, with 70 percent of funds awarded on a nationally competitive basis and 30 percent allocated for state programs. These collaboratives issue regional requests for applications (RFAs). New natural gas vehicles and natural gas conversion systems certified by EPA or the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are eligible for all categories for which the collaboratives issue an RFA. NGVAmerica members are encouraged to contact their regional collaborative(s) for the latest outreach, information, and meeting schedules.

National Clean Diesel Campaign (NCDC)
For general NCDC information call 877-NCDC-FACTS (877-623-2322) or email cleandiesel@epa.gov.

West Coast Collaborative
EPA Region 9: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the territories of Guam and America Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianna Islands (CNMI).
Contact Penny McDaniel, Region 9 Co-Lead, at 415-947-4203 or mcdaniel.penelope@epa.gov.

EPA Region 10: Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
Contact Dan Brown, Region 10 Co-Lead, at 503-326-6832 or brown.dan@epa.gov.

Rocky Mountain Clean Diesel Collaborative
EPA Region 8: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
Contact Region 8 Environmental Information Service Center (EISC) at 800-227-8917 (toll-free within Region 8 states),
303-312-6312, or r8eisc@epa.gov.

Blue Skyways Collaborative
EPA Regions 6 and 7: Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico.
Contact Gloria Vaughn, Blue Skyways Collaborative Coordinator, at vaughn.gloria@epa.gov.

Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative
EPA Region 5: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Contact Sharleen Phillips at 312-353-3486 or phillips.sharleen.@epa.gov.

Southeast Diesel Collaborative
EPA Region 4: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Contact Scott Davis, Air Planning Branch Chief, at 404-562-9127 or davis.scottr@epa.gov.

Mid-Atlantic Diesel Collaborative
EPA Region 3: Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.
Contact Patrick Davis, Mobile Sources Program Manager, at 443-901-1882 or pdavis@marama.org.

Northeast Diesel Collaborative
EPA Region 1: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Contact Anne Arnold, Region 1 Coordinator, at 617-918-1047 or arnold.anne@epa.gov.

EPA Region 2: New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Contact Michael Moltzen, Region 2 Coordinator, at 212-637-3710 or moltzen.michael@epa.gov.

The Collaboratives are no longer accepting grant applications for 2012. However, it is expected that the collaboratives will use the last NCDC grant application form (EPA-OAR-OTAQ-12-05) as a template for next year’s RFAs. NGVAmerica encourages its members to familiarize themselves with the last NCDC RFA so as to be prepared for the 2013 application season.

Grants to repower original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicles will be awarded for EPA and CARB certified conversion systems only. For a thorough list of EPA and CARB certified conversion systems, view our regularly updated list here.