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The Bush Administration Reduces Children's Exposure to Diesal School Bus Emissions

Release Date: 04/07/2003
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Contact: Cathy Milbourn 202-564-7824 / milbourn.cathy@epa.gov

(04/07/03) Highlighting the Bush Administration’s commitment to reduce environmental health risks to children, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman will announce a new national partnership to minimize pollution from school buses. This new program, Clean School Bus USA, will work toward encouraging policies and practices to eliminate unnecessary school bus idling, installing effective emission control systems on newer buses and replacing the oldest buses in the fleet with newer ones.

“President Bush and I stand firmly behind our commitment to protecting the health of our nations’ children,” said Administrator Christie Whitman. “Every day in America, 24 million children travel safely to and from school on 444,000 school buses--that's 4 billion miles each year, equivalent of four round-trip visits to the planet Jupiter. That’s a lot of driving and a lot of air pollution. Working with our partners as part of the Clean School bus USA program we are poised to meet the challenge to make the bus ride cleaner for those children.”

School buses offer the safest way to transport children to school each day-- Clean School Bus USA will also help make those buses cleaner. Since most diesel engines are on the road for 20 or 30 years, this program will help equip our nation’s school bus fleet with low emission technologies and practices sooner than would otherwise occur through bus fleet turnover. Older buses can now be equipped with safe, affordable and more effective technology that will reduce emissions to very low levels–some that will be close to the performance standards required for new bus engines starting in 2007.

In 2000, EPA launched the Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program to address the older buses that are currently on the road, and to date, over 130,000 vehicles and engines have been retrofitted. Clean School Bus USA is an outgrowth of that EPA Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program. Currently, there are over 20 school bus retrofit projects underway and more than 120 school districts have expressed an interest in participating in a retrofit project.

The Clean School Bus USA Partnership will be announced by Administrator Whitman at an event in Philadelphia where 3M has committed a $200,000 donation to Pennsylvania’s Clean Air Fund for a pilot project to retrofit school buses to reduce air pollution. EPA has contributed $50,000 to the program under the Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program Grants.

To financially support this effort to make school buses cleaner, Congress included $5 million in EPA's budget this year for a cost-shared grant program designed to assist school districts in upgrading their bus fleets. An additional $20 million will be available through supplemental environmental projects.

Corning Incorporated and other members of Manufacturers of Emission Control Association are sponsoring a summit in Washington D.C. to highlight this important children’s health issue and to identify innovative measures partners can take to help EPA reach its goals of reducing idling, retrofitting existing buses, and replacing the oldest buses with new cleaner buses.

For more information about the Clean School Bus USA program, see: www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus
For more information about EPA’s Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program, see: www.epa.gov/otaq/retrofit/