Last month, the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) announced $4.4 million in funding to replace 33 school buses in eight school districts around the state. The funds will remove older diesel buses from the road and cover the costs of newer, more efficient, and cleaner burning buses. “By replacing older engines with new technologies, the school buses will help improve air quality in these areas of the state,” said AEA Executive Director, Curtis W. Thayer, in AEA’s press release. "The new buses will result in a reduction of 24.6 short tons of NOx and 1.8 short tons of fine particulate matter over the remaining lifetimes of the replaced school buses.” The focus on school buses will also protect the health of schoolchildren around the state.
These funds were made available under the Volkswagen Settlement, where the automaker was fined nearly $15 billion due to cheating on vehicle emission standards tests. Of those funds, $3 billion was allocated to state governments, based on the number of affected vehicles in each state. In 2017, Alaska was allocated $8.13 million to administer programs which reduce NOx emissions. AEA announced the VW Settlement School Bus Replacement Program, asking school districts to apply for new buses. Applications were then ranked on expected reductions in air pollution, and ambient air quality where the buses are operated, as well as the presence of at-risk communities which would be exposed to this pollution.