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EPA and Erie County Team Up Again to Reduce Pollution from School Buses

Release Date: 05/14/2008
Contact Information: Michael Basile 646-369-0055, basile.michael@epa.gov

(Buffalo, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded $173,997 to Erie County’s Department of Environment and Planning to install equipment that will cut pollution on 62 school buses in three school districts. EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg presented the check to Erie County Executive Chris Collins at a ceremony held today in Buffalo, 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. The Clean School Bus USA grant was awarded by EPA on behalf of the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, a partnership of public and private entities in eight Northeastern states. EPA had previously granted the County $298,960 to begin retrofitting buses.

”We are pleased to continue our partnership with Erie County as it makes its buses cleaner and protects 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. School buses are the safest way for children to get to school and now they will be safer for the environment as well.”

Using the EPA grant money, Erie County will install pollution-reducing diesel oxidation catalysts and crankcase filters on 42 school buses and will install heater systems to reduce idling on 20 additional school buses in the Orchard Park, Hamburg and Sweet Home school districts in Erie County, NY. The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (DEP) DEP will also conduct idling awareness training with school bus drivers. This project will reduce emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide, while reducing children's exposure to harmful diesel exhaust and improving air quality in the surrounding communities.

"Now more than ever, we know the steps we must take to protect our environment and keep our community green," said Erie County Executive Chris Collins. "This grant will help cut air pollution and protect school students, school employees, and residents living in the Hamburg, Orchard Park and Sweet Home school districts. I want to thank the EPA and the staff of the County's Department of Environment and Planning for making this grant presentation possible."

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, there are still diesel school buses in service that 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 Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel 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, over time, cause permanent damage to the lungs. 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.

The Northeast Diesel Collaborative established in 2005 by the 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 Northeast Diesel Collaborative promotes regulatory and voluntary efforts to reduce emissions from new and existing diesel engines and encourages voluntary emissions reductions of existing fleet through retrofits, cleaner fuel, replacement, reduced idling and other pollution-cutting measures.

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

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