More than 50 school districts across North Carolina will be replacing older school buses with new, more environmentally friendly models under the state’s initial share of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s settlement with Volkswagen for unlawfully cheating on vehicle emissions.
In all, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s initiative, the North Carolina Clean School Bus program, was funded with $11.2 million of the nearly $30 million in the first phase of the settlement awards. These funds will be used to purchase 103 low- or zero-emission buses powered by propane, electric or diesel fuels. The new vehicles will replace older diesel-powered models that burn more fuel and have far higher emissions. The electric buses will be zero-emission, and by some estimates, the new diesel and propane vehicles are about 90% cleaner than the older models
In addition to the NC DPI project, five school districts and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians also had school bus replacement projects funded.
“This award allows DPI and school districts across North Carolina to continue to modernize the existing fleet while also allowing the assessment of how new technologies will fit into the school bus fleet of the future,” State Superintendent Mark Johnson said.
As part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. accepted a $14.9 billion penalty after acknowledging that it installed devices on certain diesel vehicles to make them appear to meet strict emissions standards when in fact they did not.
The money will be used to buy back affected vehicles as well as fund environmental mitigation and investment to promote the use of zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure.
North Carolina will receive approximately $92 million, based on the number of affected 2.0-liter and 3.0- liter diesel engine vehicles registered in the state. The sum is part of the $2.9 billion designated for projects established through the VW’s Environmental Mitigation Trust.