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Two Conn. Towns Receive Over $500,000 in EPA Funding for Clean School Buses

Release Date: 03/17/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – March 17, 2008) – EPA is awarding grants totaling more than $500,000 to install advanced pollution control equipment on approximately 82 school buses operating in Mansfield and Newtown, Conn.

In a related action, EPA, through the 2008 Northeast Diesel Collaborative (NEDC) Emissions Reduction Program, is also announcing the availability of nearly $5.4 million in grants and innovative financing to significantly reduce diesel emissions and improve public health in EPA Regions 1 and 2. Today, EPA issued the 2008 Northeast Diesel Collaborative Emissions Reduction Request for Proposals from regional, state and local governments, federally recognized tribes, port authorities, environmental organizations, colleges and universities, hospitals, and others interested in establishing innovative projects to reduce diesel emissions in their communities.

“Reducing emissions from diesel engines is one of the most important air quality challenges facing New England,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. ”Fleet by fleet, we are eliminating the black puff of diesel smoke that Connecticut’s children are exposed to each day.”

Diesel engines contribute significantly to air pollution, especially in urban areas. The fine particles in diesel exhaust pose serious health risks, including aggravated asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Children are especially vulnerable to these effects. The Northeast has some of the highest asthma rates in the nation, including a childhood asthma rate above 10 percent in all six New England states. In Connecticut, lifetime asthma rates in children are estimated to be 13.7 percent.

“On behalf of the Newtown Public School System, the Newtown School Bus Owner/Operators, and the Town of Newtown, we are thrilled to have been selected for a 2007 Clean School Bus USA grant. This grant will enable us to take a leading role in improving air quality in Newtown, as well as Fairfield County, by voluntarily retrofitting our schools buses with EPA/CARB approved equipment”, said Anthony DiLonardo, Director of Transportation for Newtown Public Schools. “We are all looking forward to getting started with the implementation phase of the project and monitoring its future success.”

“The Town of Mansfield is very pleased to receive this grant award, and commends the EPA for offering this program,” said Matthew Hart, Mansfield Town Manager. “The diesel retrofit is an important component of the town’s sustainability initiative. Next year, the buses serving the community will operate more cleanly. For this we can all breathe easier.”

The NEDC is a partnership of public and private organizations working to improve air quality by taking action to reduce diesel pollution. The NEDC was established in 2005 by regions 1 and 2 of the U.S. EPA, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the states and territories of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Puerto Rico joined in 2007. Today, the collaborative combines the expertise of public and private partners in a coordinated regional initiative to reduce diesel emissions and improve public health in the eight northeastern states as well as Puerto Rico. Projects funded under the 2007 NEDC Emissions Reductions Program will expand regional efforts to reduce public exposure to diesel pollution.

Today’s request for proposals makes approximately $5.4 million available for clean diesel projects in the eight northeastern states - including Tribal lands belonging to the federally recognized tribes in these regions, or the territory of the US Virgin Islands, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Projects can involve cleaner fuels, idle reduction, and retrofit technology for a range of diesel engines, including school and transit buses, port equipment and construction vehicles.

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