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EPA Funds Make All Buses Cleaner in Katonah-Lewisboro School District

Release Date: 10/26/2006
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded $410,000 to install equipment that will cut pollution on all 54 school buses in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District. EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg presented the check to the district at a ceremony held today in Katonah, New York. The grant, part of EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program, will help curb harmful tailpipe emissions and complement progress being made in the fight against diesel pollution throughout the northeast. October 15 marked the date by which Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) for use in diesel-powered highway vehicles was required to be made available at retail fuel pumps across the country.

“President George W. Bush’s commitment to children doesn’t end with improved academics. With Clean School Bus USA, it extends to protecting our children’s health as they travel to school,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program together with the new requirements mandating the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel are progressively reducing diesel pollution, and will soon make that familiar black puff of smoke a relic of days gone by.”

This Clean School Bus USA funding will enable Katonah-Lewisboro to retrofit 100 percent of its large school bus fleet, comprised of 54 school buses, with diesel particulate filters (DPFs). The buses will also use the cleaner diesel fuel, which is necessary for the pollution control equipment to work properly. In addition, the district will purchase two new large school buses that already have sophisticated pollution controls. The special filters will slash emissions of harmful particles by 90 percent.

“School buses are the safest form of transportation, taking students to and from school every day,” said James Minihan, Supervisor of Transportation for Katonah-Lewisboro School District. “This grant makes that ride even safer, not only for the students who ride our buses but for the entire Katonah-Lewisboro School District by reducing particulate matter levels in the community.”

In the U.S., 24 million children ride the school bus every day. On average, students spend an hour and a half each weekday in a school bus. Nationally, school buses drive more than 4 billion miles each year. Due to the longevity of diesel engines, it is estimated that about one-third of all diesel school buses now in service were built before 1990. Older buses are not equipped with today’s pollution controls or safety features and are estimated to emit as much as six times more pollution as the new buses that were built starting in 2004, and as much as sixty times more pollution as buses that meet the 2007 diesel standards.

The recent conversion to cleaner ULSD fuel available to consumers at the pump is the single, most far-reaching environmental and public health achievement since lead was removed from gasoline. The conventional diesel fuel previously used by the vast majority of school buses generates a significant amount of fine particles, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, which are released in the environment. Fine particles can lodge deep into the lungs, can trigger asthma attacks, and or time, cause permanent damage to the lungs. Hydrocarbons are a component of ground-level ozone, or smog, the choking brown haze that settles over many parts of the state on the hottest summer days. This clean-burning fuel has 97 percent less sulfur and will deliver billions of dollars in environmental and public health benefits nationwide.

Case studies suggest that the use of ULSD alone can reduce emissions of particles by up to 10 percent. Under the EPA’s clean diesel rules, ULSD combined with new engine technology will not only enhance environmental protection, but will also prevent nearly 20,000 premature deaths and tens of thousands of cases of respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma.

EPA has been a champion in facilitating the reduction of diesel engine emissions that contribute to local air pollution. In the summer of 2003, EPA Region 2 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the first of its kind, between EPA and the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) committing both organizations to cleaner school buses. Additionally, the Agency has worked in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority since the inception of the Clean School Bus USA program. Collaborative efforts at the state and local level are key to environmental protection. The New York Association for Pupil Transportation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have provided pivotal support in making New York State a true leader in promoting innovative methods to transport students in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.

To learn more about the Clean School Bus USA program and the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/cleanschoolbus/index.html and http://www.northeastdiesel.org.

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