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Rhode Island Officials and EPA Celebrate Clean School Bus Efforts - EPA Announces $1.5 million for New Clean Diesel Projects

Release Date: 05/05/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Warwick, R.I. – May 5, 2006) – EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson today was joined by Gov. Donald Carcieri and Senator Lincoln Chafee to applaud Warwick Public Schools on completing an EPA-funded project to equip more than 50 buses with technology that reduces harmful pollution.

In a related action, EPA announced that nearly $1.5 million is now available for clean diesel projects in the eight Northeast states to advance the goals of the Northeast Diesel Collaborative. The Northeast Diesel Collaborative is a partnership of public and private organizations working to reduce diesel pollution and improve air quality.

"President Bush and EPA are committed to making that black puff of diesel smoke from school buses something you only read about in history books," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "And thanks to the good efforts of the City of Warwick, the only thing pouring out of Warwick's school buses are students – not diesel emissions."

In 2004, the Warwick Public School Department was awarded an EPA Clean School Bus USA grant of $350,000 to retrofit their entire fleet of school buses. Warwick applied a combination of diesel oxidation catalysts and crankcase controls to reduce emissions from each bus by more than 30 percent. Warwick is also fueling these buses with a combination of ultra-low sulfur diesel and renewable biodiesel fuel.

“I commend the City of Warwick in becoming the first community in Rhode Island to retrofit its entire fleet of school buses,” remarked Governor Donald Carcieri. “It will mean less pollution to the surrounding streets, a healthier ride for school kids and healthier conditions for school bus drivers. Today’s announcement shows that, working together, we can reduce air pollution in our state and across the country.”

Warwick has already taken a number of steps to reduce pollution from its 27 schools. Among those steps is the adoption of a systemwide energy conservation program that has reduced energy usage by $2.7 million over the past six years, a savings of almost a quarter of the school’s annual utility budget. First Student, the school bus contractor that operates the school buses for Warwick, is also doing its part by actively encouraging their drivers to comply with their anti-idling policy.

"On behalf of our residents, I would like to thank the EPA for originally awarding the funding - the largest single grant our schools had ever received - and our school department and its transportation company for their willingness to find practical and effective ways to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the air," said Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian. "This project adds to the other progressive steps we've been taking to restore and protect our environment.”

Diesel engines contribute significantly to air pollution, especially in urban areas. The fine particles in diesel exhaust pose serious health risks, including aggravated asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Children are especially vulnerable to these effects. In Rhode Island, the lifetime childhood asthma rate is 13.9 percent, according to a March 2006 study released by the New England Asthma Regional Council.

"May is Asthma Awareness Month. I can't think of a better way to celebrate it than with this important announcement," said Laurie Stillman, Executive Director of the Asthma Regional Council of New England.

School buses transport 1.7 million children in New England to and from school every day. Cleaner school buses help not only the children who ride them, but also their bus drivers, teachers, families, and communities, all of whom benefit from cleaner air and reduced exposure to diesel exhaust. In April 2003, EPA launched the Clean School Bus USA program to help reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust by eliminating unnecessary idling, replacing the oldest school buses with new ones and equipping existing buses with advanced emission control technologies.

Also today, EPA begins soliciting proposals from state and local governments, federally recognized Indian Tribes, environmental organizations, colleges and universities, hospitals and other non-profits interested in establishing innovative projects to reduce diesel emissions in their communities. Projects can involve cleaner fuels, idle reduction, and retrofit technology for a range of diesel engines, including school buses. Proposals are due June 29, 2006.

The Northeast Diesel Collaborative (NEDC) combines the expertise of public and private partners in a coordinated regional initiative to reduce diesel emissions and improve public health in the eight northeastern states. Established in 2005 by regions 1 and 2 of the U.S. EPA, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, the collaborative focuses on reducing emissions from diesel vehicles and equipment that travel the region’s roads, serve the construction industry, and carry both cargo and passengers by water and rail. Projects funded under the 2006 NEDC Emissions Reductions Request for Proposals (RFP) will expand regional programs to reduce public exposure to diesel pollution.

Download the NEDC Emissions Reduction RFP at: http://www.epa.gov/ne/eco/diesel/2006nedcrfp.html

More information on clean school buses: http://www.epa.gov/ne/eco/diesel/school_buses.html

More information on the Northeast Diesel Collaborative: http://www.northeastdiesel.org

More information on Asthma in New England: http://www.epa.gov/region1/topics/air/indoorair.html

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