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EPA and New York Association of Pupil Transportation Sign Agreement to Reduce Emissions from Thousands of Diesel School Buses

Release Date: 07/14/2003
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(#03083a) Albany, N.Y. -- Earlier today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York Association of Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) signed a groundbreaking agreement [ About PDF]to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants from thousands of diesel school buses throughout New York state. NYAPT, whose 650 members are responsible for transporting 2.3 million New York children to and from school, is the nation's first state-wide consortium to agree to make major environmental improvements to school buses as part of EPA's Clean School Bus USA program.

"NYAPT's commitment will set the pace for other states and cities throughout the country," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny at the organization's 45th Annual conference in Albany. "We know that school buses are the safest way to get kids to school. Now, with NYAPT's extraordinary voluntary efforts, we can also insure that school buses are cleaner and better for children's lungs, and for the environment, than ever before."

"School buses are the safest way to bring our children to school and back home - and our members transport 2.3 million children every day," said NYAPT President Scott Goble. "As we work together with the EPA and others in decreasing emissions from our buses, we will be making them still safer for our children. Our association will do all we can to advance this agenda aggressively and prepare our members and colleagues accordingly. But we will also need to advocate for increased state and federal financial resources to help achieve our mutual goals."

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation today agreed to a far-reaching program to reduce emissions from school buses across the state. The organization pledged to:

    • Promote pollution-reducing retrofits on at least 5,000 diesel school buses a year through 2006, focusing on areas with poor air quality;
    • Decrease unnecessary idling of school buses by at least 50% by 2005;
    • Promote the adoption of anti-idling resolutions at least one-third of school districts in the state by June 2004;
    • Introduce legislation in New York state to codify the next generation of "clean" school buses;
    • Train mechanics and drivers on how best to reduce idling and utilize better emissions control technology;
    • Educate fleet owners and operators of the advantages of retrofit technologies and cleaner fuel through workshops,
    • newsletter articles and information on Web sites;
    • and Lobby to enrich school aid to fund school bus retrofits, to pay for the incremental costs of using cleaner ultra-low-sulphur diesel, and to accelerate purchases of new school buses equipped with clean diesel technology.
EPA pledged to support NYAPT's efforts to promote retrofits, anti-idling practices and school bus replacement by holding its own workshops, writing newsletter articles and doing other forms of public outreach. The Agency also pledged to help bring cleaner-burning ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel to parts of the state where it is currently unavailable and to identify funding opportunities for diesel retrofits.

Most school buses and trucks are powered by large diesel engines that lack the sophisticated pollution controls now required on automobiles, such has catalytic converters. While providing excellent fuel economy, the regular diesel fuel used by a vast majority of school buses generates a significant amount of fine particles, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide into the environment.

To address emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles like school buses and trucks, EPA has adopted new regulations that require all new diesel vehicles built in 2004 and later to be equipped with pollution controls. By 2007, even more sophisticated pollution controls will be required, and diesel engines will be 95% cleaner than those of most buses on the road today. EPA is encouraging owners of trucks and bus fleets to use cleaner diesel fuel and to retrofit their pre-2004 vehicles with pollution controls because these trucks and buses may remain on the road for decades. NYAPT's program will address emissions from school buses well before EPA's new standards take effect.

EPA's Clean School Bus USA program works to limit exposure to diesel fumes by the 24 million children who ride school buses, and reduce the amount of air pollution these buses create. By developing partnerships with trade groups, private companies, schools and state and local governments, EPA is on track to achieve these goals earlier than 2007, when, because of federal regulations, all new school buses will be 95% cleaner running than today's models. Already, a number of localities have signed on to make their fleets cleaner through Clean School Bus USA, including New Haven, Connecticut, Boston, Massachusetts and Dallas, Texas. NYAPT's commitment makes New York the first state with a far-reaching clean school bus initiative.