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Eastmont School District Celebrates “Greener” Cleaner School Buses

Release Date: 06/05/2008
Contact Information: Wayne Elson, EPA/Seattle, (206) 553-1463, elson.wayne@epa.gov; Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle, (206) 553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov; Irene Cheyne, Ecology, (509) 454-4193, iche461@ecy.wa.gov

Greener, cleaner school buses will make a difference for kids and the environment.

(East Wenatchee, Wash. – June 5, 2008) Eastmont School District, located in East Wenatchee, Washington, had one of the oldest school bus fleets in the State. Thanks to a $179,400 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean School Bus USA Grant and $354,355 matching funds from Eastmont School District and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), the district has five new school buses.

In early May, 2008, five of the district’s old buses, known for their poor gas mileage and smoky exhaust, were replaced with five new buses that get more than twice the gas mileage and reduce toxic pollutants by 99 percent.

Ecology also funded the retrofitting of 21 of the district’s other buses with pollution control devices.

“This Grant from EPA and the Department of Ecology allows the District to take a big step in the upgrade of an aging fleet,” said Garn Christensen, PhD, Superintendent, Eastmont School District 206. “Prior to receiving this grant and purchasing these five buses, only 8 out of our total fleet of 33 buses were newer than 10 years old. This grant helps to improve the immediate and long-term health of our students, our community, and our environment. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in projects of this nature.”

“Getting these old smoky diesel engine school buses off the road is one of the best things we can do for our kids’ health and the environment,” said Elin Miller, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, Washington.

"This effort is a great example of how Ecology's Air Quality staff turns limited public dollars into big gains for our environment," said Stu Clark, Ecology's Air Quality Program Manager. "By working with our partners at local schools and at EPA, we can say that we will truly make a difference in the health of Eastmont School District students and in the community as a whole."

Children are especially sensitive to air pollution because their respiratory systems are still developing and they breathe at a faster rate. More than 25 million children ride in school buses daily, spending, on average, an hour and a half each weekday on the bus. Recent studies suggest that children’s school bus commutes on old or non-retrofitted buses can expose them to significantly higher concentrations of pollutants than what is measured in a community’s outdoor air.

Statistics show that school buses are the safest way to transport children; the EPA wants to ensure that they are also the cleanest. There are an estimated 400,000 diesel school buses on the road, with roughly one third manufactured before 1990. The pre-1990 school bus fleets are the heaviest polluters and should be replaced. The remaining school buses, manufactured between 1990 and 2006, can be made much cleaner by installing devices designed to reduce pollution and switching to cleaner fuels.

Funding under the EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program supports projects that assist school districts in their efforts to reduce pollution from diesel-powered school buses. Since 2001, EPA has awarded over $5.5 million to clean up school buses in the West.

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For more information on the EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus/

For more information on the West Coast Collaborative, please visit: http://www.westcoastcollaborative.org

For more information on Ecology’s diesel retrofits, please visit:
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/cars/DieselGrantPage.htm