Tue May 24, 2011

Federal Funding Uncertain for School Bus Emissions Program

As schools start wrapping up for summer recess, several Colorado districts will begin retrofitting aging diesel school busses to clean up emissions. But a federal funding source that’s traditionally kept this program afloat could be in jeopardy for next year.

Under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program, the Environmental Protection Agency started giving money to all states six years ago. The problem was that older diesel school busses were releasing fumes that reduced air quality, which could impact kids’ health. But President Obama’s latest budget proposal would cut the program.

“That would kind of cramp our style,” says Lisa Silva, project manager of Colorado’s program. “We wouldn’t be able to address as many busses that need it around the state, which could be another 3,000 eligible out there.”

Colorado has $450,000 in remaining funds to be spent this year. Silva says there are other revenue streams that fund bus retrofits in the state, but the EPA’s program is the main source.

Efforts are currently underway in Congress to restore funding. A House Appropriations Subcommittee is currently scheduled to discuss the topic in early July.