The Saco School Department will receive $180,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce school bus emissions.

The money will be used to retrofit seven school buses with engines that emit fewer pollutants that are linked to health problems like asthma and lung damage, according to the EPA. Saco is among four school districts and bus companies in New England and 141 in 32 states to receive a portion of $8.7 million in rebates through the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.

“The City of Saco is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship,” said City Administrator Kevin Sutherland. “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.”

Districts and bus companies replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older receive between $15,000 and $20,000 per bus depending on the size of the bus, according to the EPA. Fleet operators also had the option of retrofitting buses with a diesel oxidation catalyst, closed cranked ventilation system and fuel-operated heater to reduce harmful emissions. The EPA funds the cost of those devices up to $6,000.

“These EPA funds to replace older bus engines with cleaner unites will mean healthier rides for kids in Saco who ride a school bus every day to get to their school,” Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator for the EPA New England office, said in a statement. “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.”

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