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Missouri schools receive diesel emission reduction grants

School buses will be making the rounds with reduced diesel emissions in several Missouri communities thanks to funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

The EPA awarded $672,540 in diesel emission reduction grants to five school districts and one bus company last week, funding the clean replacement of 18 buses through funds from the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) passed by Congress in 2005. 

Community R-VI School District in Laddonia, Leonardo Academy in Independence, and the Winona R-III, Wheatland R-II, Platte County R-III, and Sikeston R-VI school districts were awarded grants.

 Leonardo Academy was approved to purchase 10 propane-powered buses, while the other recipients will make the switch to cleaner diesel. 

“Providing grants for school bus replacements is truly a rewarding program,” Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Dru Buntin said. “It’s a win-win situation for Missouri, where the air gets cleaner and our students get safer transportation to and from school.”

The EPA awarded 55 total grants to reduce diesel use through upgrades to school buses and other equipment. More than $77 million was approved through this year’s DERA cycle. 

DNR was also awarded more than $524,000 for a diesel emissions reduction initiative through the DERA State Grant program, which allows state agencies to direct funds to prioritize local emission reduction projects. 

“Cleaner trucks, buses, boats, and heavy equipment keep local economies thriving while better protecting the health of the people living and working near ports, schools, and along delivery routes,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Combined with $5 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law going to electric and alternative fuel school buses over the coming months and years, EPA is leading an unprecedented investment in cleaner air for communities across the country.”

Diesel emission reduction programs are expected to thrive in the coming years thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure package signed into law last week. The EPA is set to award $5 billion in emission reduction grants between 2022-2026, with $500 million a year earmarked for electric school buses. 

Clean transportation has been a focus of communities and utility providers. Kansas City welcomed its first zero-emission public buses earlier this year, while the state’s first electric school bus is active in Knox County thanks to a contribution from the local electric cooperative.