TDOT Accepting Applications for New Pilot Diesel Retrofit Program for School Buses
Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is now accepting applications for a new pilot grant project aimed at reducing diesel exhaust emissions from school buses in air quality nonattainment and maintenance areas. TDOT is partnering with the Department of Environment and Conservation to provide $1 million in competitive grant funds to retrofit diesel engines in older school buses.
"It's important for state agencies to lead by example when it comes to reducing pollution in our major urban areas," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "Tennessee has already been recognized as a national leader by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for our locomotive and road construction diesel retrofit programs. The school bus program is the next step in expanding this initiative to include other diesel vehicles."
School districts in 16 Tennessee counties are eligible to apply for up to 100 percent funding to retrofit a portion of their school bus fleet. The maximum grant award is $250,000. The Department of Environment and Conservation, working in partnership with TDOT, will provide funding to cover a 20 percent match requirement.
"We are pleased to assist in this grant program to help our schools provide cleaner transportation," said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke. "The retrofit devices available for school buses have proven to be a cost-effective way to reduce diesel exhaust that is emitted into the air as well as harmful emissions that can accumulate inside the school bus."
By providing 100 percent funding for the retrofits, the departments hope to encourage school systems to take advantage of the grant opportunity. School districts will not be required to provide any matching funds.
Dr. Tim Webb, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education, said, "It is vital that we do all that we can to create healthy environments for our school children. I applaud this new program by TDOT and TDEC to reduce harmful diesel emissions from school buses and encourage eligible school districts to take advantage of this opportunity."
The School Bus Diesel Retrofit Pilot Project is one of a series of TDOT grant projects that encourage private sector companies and government agencies to take voluntary actions to reduce emissions from older diesel engines. Grantees must implement a policy to reduce unnecessary engine idling, which lessens fuel consumption and decreases exhaust emissions. Grantees are also encouraged to use renewable fuels, such as biodiesel. Reducing petroleum fuel consumption and using more renewable fuels will be important strategies of the overall state energy plan to be developed under Governor Bredesen's Executive Order #54.
TDOT has allocated $800,000 in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funds for the program. This competitive grant project is open to all school districts in 16 air quality nonattainment or maintenance counties, including Anderson, Blount, Davidson, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Montgomery, Rutherford, Sevier, Shelby, Sumner, Williamson, Wilson and portions of Cocke and Roane counties.
The deadline to submit applications is June 30, 2008.
Source: TN Department of Transportation
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