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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Clean School Bus USA at Wissahickon High School, Ambler, Pennsylvania

04/07/2003
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
Wissahickon High School
Ambler, Pennsylvania

April 7, 2003


Thank you for that introduction. It = s great to be here at the home of the Wissahickon Trojans. Today the World Health Organization is marking World Health Day B and the theme of this year = s celebration is Healthy Environments for Children. That makes today a very appropriate time to announce EPA = s new Clean School Bus USA initiative B a program designed to improve the health of our children by improving the pollution performance of their school buses.

Every day in America, 24 million children travel safely to and from school on 440,000 public school buses. Those buses travel more than 4 billion miles each year B and as those of you who= ve taken Mr. Dorner = s new astronomy course know, that = s the equivalent of four round-trip visits to the planet Jupiter. That = s a lot of driving B and it = s also a lot of air pollution B millions of pounds of soot and smog-forming gases each year.

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to significantly reduce pollution from public school buses and improve the health of those who ride them B by replacing older, dirty buses with new, A clean fuel @ buses. These new buses use cleaner fuel or new technology to reduce their emissions into the air. This means cleaner air in our communities and healthier students in our schools.

Of course, replacing older buses with new, clean buses isn = t easy and it isn = t cheap. That = s why the EPA, in partnership with numerous organizations from the environmental, health, and business communities, along with numerous state and local officials, is launching the Clean School Bus USA initiative.

Our goal is simple B to ensure that by the year 2010, every public school bus on the road in all 50 states is a clean school bus, emitting less pollution and contributing to cleaner air. The funding for this program will also be enhanced by a $20 million settlement between EPA and Toyota. We are funding this program with a $5 million appropriation that we will make available to local school districts nationwide to help defray the costs of upgrading their bus fleets. Because we = re using a cost-sharing program, our Clean School Bus USA program will leverage funds already budgeted for school bus replacement, giving districts more for their money B and I know that = s something school boards always appreciate.

I should point out that replacing old buses is not the only way to make new gains in air pollution reduction. Upgrades to existing buses and promoting smart practices B such as reducing idling times B can also bring big air quality benefits. That = s why we = ve also set a goal of reducing school bus idling by an average of 30 minutes per bus per day. That will not only cut air pollution, it will also save 17 million gallons of diesel fuel each year. Working together B using all the tools available to us B can really make a difference for the environment B and, more important, for the students who ride these buses B our children.

Cleaner buses mean fewer respiratory ailments, fewer school days lost to illness, and a brighter, healthier future. I want to applaud all those who are supporting this important effort, especially right here in this district. Through a partnership among the EPA, the Pennsylvania Department of environmental protection, and the 3M Corporation, we are making $250,000 available to the Wissahickon School District to upgrade 45 of its school buses. This money is an investment in the quality of your air and the health of your students, and I can= t think of any better investment government can make than that.

It = s partnerships like this that show that when it comes to environmental protection, we can reach across traditional boundaries in support of common goals. And please be certain that EPA is committed to finding new ways to make this program B and others like it B succeed. So thank you for your leadership here in this district B you are an example of how much good work can be done when we work well together. Thank you. Now I would like to ask representatives of today = s partners to join me in presenting the check to the Wissahickon school district.