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Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy Director Jim Macy announced the state is awarding over $2.6 million in rebates to schools across Nebraska to aid in the replacement of older diesel school buses.

The funded projects include 60 public school districts, one private school, and one bus contractor serving a public school district. Each project will replace one older diesel bus with a new bus with much lower emissions. The department initially planned to fund 32 rebates, but because of the high demand, all 62 applicants will receive funding.

“The department received a large number of applications from schools across the state,” Macy said. “The funds available for this program give us the opportunity to provide financial assistance to schools that will help reduce harmful diesel emissions.”

These rebates will be funded from Nebraska’s share of the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia (VW State Trust). Trust funds may be used to replace diesel vehicles and engines in order to reduce emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides, which may have direct adverse health effects as well as contributing to the formation of harmful ozone. This year’s projects are expected to reduce NOx emissions by over 14 tons. Ten school districts are planning to replace diesel buses with propane-fueled buses that meet California NOx emissions standards that are much stricter than the current federal standard.

Funding for these projects will include the remaining portion of the VW funds that the department previously earmarked for school bus rebates, plus $1.354 million from the funds that had been designated for “Eligible Actions Based on Demand.”

The department is currently wrapping up 40 projects from the 2018 School Bus Rebate Program. Over this two-year period, approximately $4.36 million in VW State Trust funds will be spent to replace 102 diesel school buses, reducing harmful NOx emissions by nearly 28 tons.

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