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Wheels on the Bus “Go Round and Round” for Cleaner Air; EPA Funds Retrofit of Four Hundred Diesel School Buses

Release Date: 07/11/2006
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, NY) At a ceremony held today in Albany, New York, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded $478,000 to install pollution reducing equipment on more than 400 school buses statewide. The grant, part of the EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program, will help curb harmful tailpipe emissions in the school districts of Greece Central, Fairport Central, Livonia Central, Sachem Central and Ulster County Board of Cooperative Education Services, serving nearly 36,000 children.

“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 EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “School buses are the way most kids get to school. They’re also the safest way to get to school, so reducing children’s exposure to diesel exhaust is of the utmost importance. EPA has led the way on this issue.”

EPA funding is crucial to reducing the diesel engine emissions that contribute to air pollution and respiratory problems. We have led the way on this issue. 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. The Agency has worked in partnership with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) since the inception of the Clean School Bus USA program. In 2004, EPA awarded them more than $500,000 to help retrofit buses at nearly a dozen school districts across the state.

“We commend both NYAPT and NYSERDA for their leadership in making New York State a true leader in promoting innovative methods to transport students in a safe and environmentally-friendly way,” added Steinberg.

The school districts that will receive the most recent retrofit grants are:
Greece Central School District (NY) – The Greece Central School District is partnering with the Fairport Central School District, Livonia Central School District, and Sachem Central School District to reduce emissions by installing diesel oxidation catalysts and closed crankcase filtration systems on 244 buses. NYSERDA has worked directly with the Greece Central School District by providing a cost-share and managing the project for the district.

Sachem Central School District (NY) – The Sachem Central School District is partnering with their bus contractor, Towne Bus LLC, to install diesel oxidation catalysts on 156 buses. This project will complement the Greece project, which will retrofit buses in Sachem’s district-owned fleet.

Ulster County Board of Cooperative Education Services (NY) – Ulster BOCES is a cooperative school district offering vocational, alternative, special, and adult education, and also data management and transportation. Ulster BOCES will be retrofitting three buses with diesel particulate filters and using ultra low sulfur diesel fuel.

Through the installation of diesel oxidation catalysts – which are similar to catalytic converters now found in all gasoline-powered cars – tailpipe emissions from the buses will be reduced: fine particles by at least 20%; hydrocarbons by at least 50% and carbon monoxide by at least 30%. Particulate filters can reduce fine particles by up to 90%.

Most school buses and trucks are powered by large diesel engines that lack the sophisticated pollution controls now required on automobiles. While providing good fuel economy, the regular diesel fuel used by the vast majority of school buses generates a significant amount of fine particles, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, which are released into the environment. Fine particles can lodge deep into the lungs, can trigger asthma attacks and, over 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.

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. School buses drive more than 4 billion miles each year. To learn more visit Clean School Bus USA at http://www.epa.gov/region02/cleanschoolbus

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