(TDEC press release) The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) today announced that 39 entities will receive $8,854,685.42 in grant funding to support school bus replacement projects across Tennessee. Locally, this includes Campbell, Morgan and Roane counties.
The competitive grant program, which is the state’s first grant program funded by the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust (VW Settlement EMT), will provide financial assistance to grantees to replace a minimum of one eligible school bus with any new diesel, alternate-fueled, or all-electric school bus. The purpose of the EMT is to execute environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
“These grants will help us to better protect our children and our environment,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “Investing in technologically-advanced transportation updates, particularly in our rural counties, is one way we are supporting the health and safety of our students.”
“Projects supported by this program will reduce air pollutants that threaten public health and the environment,” said David Salyers, commissioner of TDEC. “By lowering school bus emissions, we can enhance quality of life in our state, particularly for our children.”
After conducting a comprehensive review of all grant applications, TDEC selected the above-mentioned grantees that will replace a total of 143 engine model year 2009 or older school buses with 68 new diesel, one all-electric, 66 propane, and eight compressed natural gas school buses. These projects are expected to yield NOx emissions reductions of an estimated 117,725.95 pounds, or 58.86 tons, over the lifetime of the new vehicles.
Of the school buses funded, 27 will operate 70 percent or more of the time in former nonattainment areas for ozone and/or fine particulates (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standards; 44 will operate in economically distressed counties, defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission as those counties that rank among the 10 percent most economically distressed counties in the nation based on a three-year average unemployment rate, per capita market income, and poverty rate.
TDEC is the lead agency for administering the state’s VW Settlement EMT allocation; announcements on future funding programs under the EMT will be shared by the department.