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Saco, Maine Gets $180,000 EPA Rebate to Reduce School Bus Emissions

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David Deegan (

BOSTON – The Saco, Maine school district was chosen to receive $180,000 from the US Environmental Protection Agency to retrofit the engines on seven older school buses so they would emit fewer pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.

Saco's fleet was among four in New England, and 141 in 32 states nationwide, that will receive more than $8.7 million in rebates through EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. The funds will help pay to replace 452 older diesel school buses with new buses that are more than 90 percent cleaner.

"These EPA funds to replace older bus engines with cleaner units will mean healthier rides for kids in Saco who ride a school bus every day to get to their school," said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "Parents rely on school buses to safely bring their children to and from school, and we're proud to help ensure lower emissions and cleaner air for this community."

"The City of Saco is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Opportunities like the 'Clean Diesel Rebate' program from the EPA help municipalities and school systems pursue these much needed improvements to provide energy efficient transportation," said Kevin Sutherland, City Administrator of Saco.

Districts and bus companies replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older are receiving between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus, depending on the size of the bus. Fleet operators also had the option of retrofitting school buses with engine model years between 1994 to 2006 with a diesel oxidation catalyst, closed crankcase ventilation system, and fuel-operated heater to reduce harmful emissions. EPA will fully fund the cost of these devices up to $6,000.

EPA has put in place standards to make newer diesel engines more than 90 percent cleaner, but many older diesel school buses are still operating with the old engines, which emit large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These pollutants are linked to instances of aggravated asthma, lung damage and other serious health problems. Since 2008, the diesel program has funded more than 700 clean diesel projects across the country, reducing emissions in more than 70,000 engines.

The other New England awards went to Dattco serving New Britain, Conn., schools, which received $125,000 for retrofitting seven buses; Five Star Transportation serving Chicopee (Mass.) Public Schools, which received $200,000 for retrofitting 10 buses; and Wareham (Mass.) Public Schools, which received $200,000 for retrofitting 10 buses.

More information on EPA's work under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program (

A comprehensive list of the 2017 DERA school bus recipients can be found at