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EPA recognizes Fort Wayne Community Schools for reducing diesel emissions from its school buses

Release Date: 04/21/2008
Contact Information: William Omohundro, 312-353-8254, omohundro.william@epa.gov Krista J. Stockman, 260-467-2022, krista.stockman@fwcs.k12.in.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 08-OPA066

(Chicago, Ill. - April 21, 2008) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Acting Air and Radiation Division Director Cheryl Newton this morning recognized the Fort Wayne Community School District, Fort Wayne, Ind., for its work using a $50,000 EPA Clean School Bus grant to reduce harmful diesel emissions from its school bus fleet. The event was held at Elmhurst High School, 3829 Sandpoint Road.

"EPA is working with the Fort Wayne Community Schools to upgrade buses and use cleaner fuels so children can breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives," Newton said. "Breathing diesel exhaust is not good for anyone, especially children."

EPA awarded the grant in late 2006, and FWCS installed diesel oxidation catalysts on 30 buses. Part of the grant was used to buy biodiesel fuel that was shared with the Southwest Allen County Schools. The two districts have been using biodiesel in 372 buses as a result of the grant.

"FWCS is well deserving of recognition," said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. "They have taken a very important step toward protection of the health of our children and improving the quality of the air that we all breathe. Our community is moving toward a higher recognition of the importance of making choices that will ensure the sort of world we want our children to enjoy."

"We are proud to do our part to ensure we all have cleaner air to breathe," FWCS Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. "We take our responsibility of being good stewards of the environment seriously. Having clean air is critical for everyone, but especially those children with asthma or other breathing difficulties."

The grant is part of EPA's Clean School Bus USA program. 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. School buses are the safest way for children to get to school. However, pollution from diesel vehicles has health implications for everyone, especially children.

Diesel exhaust contains nitrogen oxides, fine particles (soot) and air toxics. Nitrogen oxides are precursors of ozone (smog), and, when breathed, fine particles can lodge deep in the lungs.

Launched in April 2003, Clean School Bus USA brings together partners from business, education, transportation and public health organizations to eliminate unnecessary school bus idling, to retrofit buses and to replace the oldest buses with new, less polluting buses. More information on Clean School Bus USA is at http://www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus.

The grant money was provided under the Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative, a collaboration of government, industry and non-profit organizations to reduce diesel emissions in the Midwest. More information on the initiative is at http://www.epa.gov/midwestcleandiesel.

MCDI expects to award some $5 million in grants this year for diesel-emission reduction projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Project proposals will be accepted until June 12.

Diesel oxidation catalysts use a chemical process to break down pollutants in the exhaust stream into less harmful components. The catalysts can be installed on new and most used buses, and run on regular diesel fuel or biodiesel.

Biodiesel is a domestically produced renewable fuel that can be made from vegetable oil or animal fat. It is safe, biodegradable and reduces air pollutants such as soot, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and air toxics.

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