Johnson City, Washington County receive school buses from VW emissions settlement

Johnson City Press • Updated May 22, 2019 at 8:08 PM

Johnson City Transit and the Washington County Schools district were among 39 districts and bus services selected to receive a total of nearly $8.9 million in grant funding to support school bus replacement projects across Tennessee.

“These grants will help us to better protect our children and our environment,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Investing in technologically-advanced transportation updates, particularly in our rural counties, is one way we are supporting the health and safety of our students.”

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said the competitive grant program, which is the state’s first grant program funded by the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust, 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 Environmental Mitigation Trust is to execute environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides.

After conducting a comprehensive review of all grant applications, TDEC selected 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. The projects are expected to yield NOx emission reductions of an estimated 117,725.95 pounds, or 58.86 tons, over the lifetime of the new vehicles.

“Projects supported by this program will reduce air pollutants that threaten public health and the environment,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “By lowering school bus emissions, we can enhance quality of life in our state, particularly for our children.”

Of the school buses funded, 27 will operate 70 percent or more of the time in former non-attainment areas for ozone and/or fine particulates 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.

For additional information on the VW Settlement, visit the TDEC website at http://www.tn.gov/environment/VWSettlement. Sign up for the TDEC VW email list at https://signup.e2ma.net/signup/1843437/1737620/.

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