Eight school districts in the state are receiving grants from the Environmental Protection Agency to help purchase new buses. The schools were selected because they have at least one bus in their fleet with an old engine dating from 1981 to 1992.
It is called BEEP , or Bus Emmissions Education Program. Mindy Kralicek is an air quality information specialist with the Department of Natural Resources. She says those old diesel engines pump out 95% more pollutants than the engines produced today. Those fine particles are known to carry a variety of harmful gases, soot and cancer-causing substances.
Kraliceck says those particles are so small that they can bypass the normal human "filters" that usually prevent things from entering a person’s lungs. The D.N.R. is administering the grants, which total over $256,000. "The amount of money that we’re putting out for each bus is $30,450, but busses typically cost…anywhere from 70,000 to over $90,000," Kraliceck said.
Most of the school districts are planning to use Physical Plant and Equipment Levy or School Infrastructure Local Option tax funds for their grant match. The districts receiving the grants much agree to permanently disable the old engine that the new bus is replacing.
The E.P.A. grants are going to the following school districts: Camanche, Independence, West Hancock, Southeast Webster-Grand, Western Dubuque, George-Little Rock, Cardinal and Creston.