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EPA Announces Collaborative to Help Puerto Rico School Buses Reduce Emissions

Release Date: 05/11/2007
Contact Information: Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) Puerto Rico is on board to participate in a national program aimed at cleaning up school buses across the country, thanks to a newly formed Puerto Rico Clean School Bus USA Workgroup called Alianza Puertorriquena Guaguas Limpias, Aire Limpio, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The benefits of putting pollution control equipment on school buses were highlighted at a ceremony held today at Polytechnic University, where EPA joined Alianza Puertorriquena Guaguas Limpias, Aire Limpio to unveil the first school bus in Puerto Rico to be retrofitted. The new Puerto Rico workgroup is a partnership of federal and commonwealth agencies, as well as the private and academic insitutions. EPA also announced that Puerto Rico has joined the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, allowing it to compete for millions of dollars of EPA grant money given to school districts and organizations to help pay for pollution control equipment. EPA will open its competition for this grant money in the near future.

“Pollution from school buses has health implications for everyone, especially asthmatic children,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “By developing local capacity and promoting the Clean School Bus program in Puerto Rico, where more kids suffer from asthma than in anywhere else in the U.S., we are progressively reducing diesel pollution to make that familiar black puff of smoke a relic of the past.”

Clean School Bus USA is a voluntary partnership launched by EPA in 2003. The goal of the program is to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust and the amount of air pollution created by diesel school buses by promoting the reduction of unnecessary bus idling and providing funding to retrofit buses with pollution-reducing devices, such as the type installed on the bus unveiled today, and to replace the oldest buses with new, less-polluting models.

The school bus in today’s event was retrofitted with a device called a diesel oxidation catalyst, which uses a chemical process to break down pollutants in the exhaust stream into less harmful components. This device cuts fine particles from tailpipe emissions by at least 20%, hydrocarbons by at least 50% and carbon monoxide by at least 30%. The catalysts can be installed on older buses and run on regular diesel fuel or biodiesel, which is diesel fuel derived from animal or vegetable sources.

Most school buses and trucks on the road today are powered by large diesel engines that lack the types of pollution controls required on automobiles. While these diesel engines provide good fuel economy, the vast majority of school buses in use in Puerto Rico were built before 2004, generating significant amounts of air pollutants, including fine particles, and releasing to the environment six times more pollution overall than buses built starting in 2004, and as much as 60 times more pollution than buses that meet EPA’s strict 2007 emission standards.

The Northeast Diesel Collaborative was established by EPA, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the states of the northeast in 2005 to promote 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. Puerto Rico joins the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont as members of the Collaborative.

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

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