Driving a Cleaner Illinois

Driving a Cleaner Illinois is the Illinois EPA’s grant program developed to distribute funding for various types of diesel emission reduction projects involving on-road vehicles, off-road equipment, and electric charging.  The Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program receives funding from a variety of sources, including the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Program, and Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program. 

When a Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is available for applicants, it will be posted to this page in addition to Illinois' Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) website.  Each NOFO will include the funding source and amounts, applicant and vehicle/equipment eligibility, and specific information on how and when to apply.  More information about each funding source may be found below and on the respective webpages listed in the Links section below.  Sign up for the Driving a Cleaner Illinois listserv to receive updates and notifications when a NOFO is available.

​​Current Notice of Funding Opportunities

​Application Deadline​Contact
DACI - Volkswagen Round 2July 16, 2019epa.vwgrants@illinois.gov

Current Funding Availability for Driving a Cleaner Illinois

In accordance with GATA, Illinois EPA will provide a NOFO for open application periods and current funding availability for its Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program. Summaries of currently available funding are summarized below along with links to the application materials.

Driving a Cleaner Illinois - Volkswagen

Up to $650,000 in Volkswagen funding is being made available for all-electric school buses operating in Madison or St. Clair Counties. Specifically, the Illinois EPA is accepting applications to replace old, diesel school buses with new all-electric school buses.

Current Application Materials

Applicants may find the NOFO and all application materials below and also at Illinois’ GATA webpage. Applicants must pre-qualify prior to application submission. For further information, see the GATA section below as well as the GATA webpage.

Applications are due July 16, 2019. Applications should be signed, scanned and submitted to epa.vwgrants@illinois.gov by 5:00 pm CT July 16, 2019. Read all instructions as late, incomplete, or improperly submitted applications will be rejected without the opportunity to correct.

If you are having trouble opening the NOFO, your browser may be outdated. Please right-click the NOFO link and choose “save as,” then open the downloaded file with Acrobat Reader. If you would like a copy of the NOFO e-mailed to you, please email epa.vwgrants@illinois.gov or call 217-524-0546.

Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program Funding Sources

Illinois EPA has a variety of funding sources for its Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program.  These funding sources are summarized below, including a description of the types of projects, current funding amounts, and fund status.  Please check this site for “Current Notice of Funding Opportunities” (above) regarding open application periods for these funds and select project types.

Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund

The Illinois EPA has been designated as the lead agency to administer funds allocated to Illinois from the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust.  The VW Environmental Mitigation Trust was established by Appendix D of the VW Settlement because of Clean Air Act violations relating to installation of “defeat devices” in certain Volkswagen diesel vehicles.  Illinois’ initial allocation of funds is approximately $108 million.  The funds are to be used for projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Illinois.   

Illinois EPA submitted its plan for administering the funds to the Volkswagen Trustee.  The plan provided for the following types of projects and funding allocations:

  • Up to 10 percent (or up to $10,867,968) for light-duty zero emission vehicle supply equipment;
  • Up to 30 percent (or up to approximately $32,603,903) for public transit projects, including cleaner diesel, alternate fueled and all-electric public transit buses and public passenger/commuter line haul locomotives;
  • Up to 10 percent (or up to approximately $10,867,968) for all-electric school buses;
  • Up to 10 percent (or up to approximately $10,867,968) for cleaner diesel and alternate fueled school buses;
  • Up to 10 percent (or up to approximately $10,867,968) for cleaner diesel, alternate fueled, and all-electric Class 4-8 local freight trucks and Class 8 port drayage trucks; and
  • Up to 28 percent (or up to approximately $30,430,309) for off-road projects, including cleaner diesel, alternate fueled, and all-electric freight switcher locomotives, ferries and tugs.

Illinois EPA recently completed a funding round involving VW Environmental Mitigation Trust Funds. See below for the results of this funding round. NOFOs for this program will be listed under “Current Notice of Funding Opportunities” and “Current Funding Availability for Driving a Cleaner Illinois” (above) when available.

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Funds

The purpose of the CMAQ program is to provide a funding source to state and local governments for transportation programs or projects that reduce congestion and improve air quality in areas that do not meet, or need to maintain compliance with, federal air quality standards. The Federal Highway Administration provides this funding to State Departments of Transportation. Through Intergovernmental Agreements, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) provides this funding to the Illinois EPA for ultimate granting to eligible applicants for eligible projects. Currently, the Illinois EPA has three separate Intergovernmental Agreements with IDOT for CMAQ funding through which Illinois EPA has established three CMAQ grant programs as described below.

CMAQ Chicago Area Green Fleet Grant Program
The purpose of this program is to fund the purchase of new vehicles powered by natural gas or propane, the conversion of conventionally-fueled vehicles to operate on natural gas or propane, and for the purchase of new off-road equipment powered by natural gas, propane or electricity.

Funding is available to entities located, and that will operate the vehicles, in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will or Aux Sable or Goose Lake townships in Grundy County or Oswego Township in Kendall County.

$800,000 is currently available to Illinois EPA for future grant awards.  NOFOs for this program will be listed under “Current Notice of Funding Opportunities” and “Current Funding Availability for Driving a Cleaner Illinois” (above) when available.

CMAQ Chicago Area Diesel Engine Repower Grant Program
The purpose of this program is to fund the replacement of old diesel engines on non-road vehicles or equipment with new diesel engines certified to more stringent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission standards (e.g., Tier 4).

Funding is available for non-road vehicles and equipment that operate in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will or Aux Sable or Goose Lake townships in Grundy County or Oswego Township in Kendall County.

$2.1 million is currently available to Illinois EPA for future grant awards. NOFOs for this program will be listed under “Current Notice of Funding Opportunities” and “Current Funding Availability for Driving a Cleaner Illinois” (above) when available.

CMAQ Chicago Area Clean School Bus Grant Program
The purpose of this program is to fund the purchase and installation of direct-fired heaters on school buses to reduce or eliminate engine idling while the buses are stationary during periods of colder weather.

Funding is available to public and private schools and school districts as well as private businesses that provide school transportation.  The school buses must operate in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will or Aux Sable or Goose Lake townships in Grundy County or Oswego Township in Kendall County.

$2.4 million is currently available to Illinois EPA for future grant awards. NOFOs for this program will be listed under “Current Notice of Funding Opportunities” and “Current Funding Availability for Driving a Cleaner Illinois” (above) when available.

Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Funds

The purpose of the DERA State Clean Diesel Grant Program is to enable participating states to support grant, rebate, and loan programs to achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions.  Through this program, states enter into Cooperative Agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for administering their allocation of DERA funds for eligible project types. This funding is provided on a federal fiscal year basis.   

Funding is available to entities to replace older diesel on-road vehicles, off-road equipment, or engines with new, cleaner diesel or alternate fueled vehicles, equipment, or engines.  Also, funding may be used to install certified emission control technologies on diesel vehicles or engines.

Federal FY17-18 funding of $974,551 is currently available to Illinois EPA for grant awards.  NOFOs for this program will be listed under “Current Notice of Funding Opportunities” and “Current Funding Availability for Driving a Cleaner Illinois” (above) when available.

​​Recent Awards

​Applicant​Project​Amount​Funding Source
Pace Suburban Bus

​Six new compressed natural gas public transit buses

$2,307,690

​VW Round 1
​Chicago Transit Authority​Three new all-electric public transit buses​$1,895,476.50​VW Round 1
​Cook-Illinois Corp.​Two new all-electric school buses and charging unit​$474,146.25​VW Round 1
​First Student, Inc.​One new all-electric school bus and charging unit​​$280,165.01​VW Round 1
​Metra​Eight new Tier 4 diesel passenger/commuter locomotives​$14,000,000​VW Round 1

Below are responses to common questions that the Illinois EPA received during the first round of Driving a Cleaner Illinois funding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact - For Questions Regarding:

Driving a Cleaner Illinois - VW grants, please use this email address:  epa.vwgrants@illinois.gov

Driving a Cleaner Illinois - CMAQ grants, please use this email address:  epa.cmaqgrants@illinois.gov.

Driving a Cleaner Illinois - DERA grants, please use this email address:  epa.deragrants@illinois.gov.

Please enter your email into the following listserv form if you would like to receive future updates about the Driving a Cleaner Illinois Program. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with a link that you will need to click to confirm addition of your name to the list.

 Documents and Links

Illinois EPA's VW Settlement page

U.S. EPA’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) page

U.S. EPA's DERA State Program Information Guide

U.S. Department of Transportation CMAQ Program