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EPA and Erie County Team Up to Reduce Pollution from School Buses

Release Date: 03/28/2007
Contact Information: Michael Basile (646) 369-0055, basile.michael@epa.gov

(Buffalo, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded $298,960 to Erie County’s Department of Environment and Planning to install equipment that will cut pollution on 128 school buses in 6 school districts. EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg presented the check to the county at a ceremony held today in Tonawanda, New York. The grant, part of EPA's Clean School Bus USA program, will help curb harmful tailpipe emissions and complement progress being made in the fight against diesel pollution throughout the northeast. The Clean School Bus USA grant was awarded by EPA on behalf of the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, a partnership of public and private entities in eight Northeastern states.

”EPA is working together with state and local partners to protect our children’s health as they travel to school,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA's Clean School Bus USA program together with the new requirements mandating the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel are progressively reducing diesel pollution, and will soon make that familiar black puff of smoke a relic of days gone by.”

The school districts of Akron, Grand Island, Iroquois, Lancaster, Ken-Ton, and Sweet Home as well as New York Association of Pupil Transportation and the Erie County Health Department will collaborate to implement this project. The grant will fund EPA-approved retrofit technology; data collection regarding emissions before and after the retrofit; presentations to other school districts; assistance to all Erie County schools in finding other sources of funding for retrofits; and, a final report that will help other communities learn about and adopt the technology.

Joel A. Giambra, Erie County Executive said, “Erie County, New York is looking forward to working with our local school districts to reduce toxic air emissions, improving air quality and protecting our children's health, through this EPA grant to retrofit school buses.”

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. Nationally, school buses drive more than 4 billion miles each year.

Due to the longevity of diesel engines, there are still diesel school buses in service that were built before 1990. Older buses are not equipped with today's pollution controls or safety features and are estimated to emit as much as six times more pollution as the new buses that were built starting in 2004, and as much as sixty times more pollution as buses that meet the 2007 diesel standards.

The recent conversion to cleaner Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel available to consumers at the pump is the single most far-reaching environmental and public health achievement since lead was removed from gasoline. The conventional diesel fuel previously used by the vast majority of school buses generates a significant amount of fine particles, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, which are released in the environment. Fine particles can lodge deep into the lungs, can trigger asthma attacks and, over time, cause permanent damage to the lungs. Under the EPA's clean diesel rules, ULSD combined with new engine technology will not only enhance environmental protection, but will also prevent nearly 20,000 premature deaths and tens of thousands of cases of respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma.

EPA has been a champion in facilitating the reduction of diesel engine emissions that contribute to local air pollution. In the summer of 2003, EPA 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.

Additionally, the Agency has worked in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority since the inception of the Clean School Bus USA program. Collaborative efforts at the state and local level are key to environmental protection. The New York Association for Pupil Transportation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have provided pivotal support in making New York State a true leader in promoting innovative methods to transport students in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.

The Northeast Diesel Collaborative established in 2005 by the EPA, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, the Northeast Diesel Collaborative promotes 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.

To learn more about the Clean School Bus USA program and the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/cleanschoolbus and http://www.northeastdiesel.org

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