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Blue Skyways bringing cleaner Oklahoma air through cleaner school buses

Release Date: 02/21/2007
Contact Information: Dave Bary or Tressa Tillman at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

More than half a million dollars to go to communities to cut diesel emissions

(Dallas, Texas – February 21, 2007) The Environmental Protection Agency and its Blue Skyways Collaborative announced more than $678,000 in grants to communities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas to help cut air pollution from school buses.

In Oklahoma, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe was awarded $176,674 to implement a school bus retrofit project in rural Caddo County that covers four school districts. The project is expected to reduce more than 400 pounds of smog-forming pollutants and 14 pounds of particulate matter each year per school bus.

“EPA is leading the way to ensure all school buses get a passing grade when it comes to diesel exhaust,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “Blue Skyways is helping to equip buses with the latest technologies, so we can reduce their emissions by up to 90 percent.”

The goal of the grant program is to reduce children's exposure to diesel exhaust and the amount of air pollution created by diesel school buses. While pollution from diesel vehicles has health implications for everyone, it is especially harmful to children. Diesel exhaust contains nitrogen oxides, fine particles (soot) and air toxics. Nitrogen oxides are precursors of ozone (smog) and, when breathed in, fine particles can lodge deep in the lungs.

The Blue Skyways Collaborative was formed in 2006 to encourage voluntary air emissions reductions throughout North America’s heartland. Collaborative partners work to make this goal possible through implementation of projects that use innovations in diesel equipment, alternative fuels, renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. With more than $271 million in projects, the program currently saves 125 million gallons of fuel per year, cuts 505,000 tons per year in greenhouse gases and reduces 40,000 tons per year in air pollutants.

The collaborative’s clean school bus program focuses specifically on bringing together partners from business, education, transportation and public health organizations to eliminate unnecessary bus idling, retrofit buses and replace the oldest buses with new, less polluting ones.

Many of the collaborative’s 44 partners will converge on Bentonville, Arkansas, on Feb. 21-22 for the program’s biannual meeting at Wal-Mart’s Sam M. Walton Development Complex. During the meeting, the group will prioritize upcoming projects and grants, share technology updates, and plan future activities.

Additional information on the Blue Skyways program and its efforts to provide cleaner-running school buses is available at http://www.blueskyways.org/.

To learn more about activities in EPA Region 6, please visit www.epa.gov/region6.

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