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This news item expired on 9/11/2004, so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
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Clean School Bus USA Grant Awarded


Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency, In Cooperation With Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, and Transylvania County Schools’ Transportation Departments, Awarded Clean School Bus USA Grant to Reduce Diesel Emissions

The Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA) announces today that it has been awarded a $274,455 grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus USA Grant Program to reduce diesel school bus emissions. The grant, one of only 17 being awarded nationwide, will assist WNCRAQA in establishing a regional project with Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, and Transylvania County Schools’ Transportation Departments, which collectively transport 22,500 children daily. This announcement marks the initiation of a project that will effectively retrofit all school buses in these four counties and provide cleaner air for the nearly 315,000 people who reside in these communities.

Highlighting the Bush Administration’s commitment to reduce environmental health risks, EPA announced earlier this year a new national partnership to minimize pollution from school buses. This new program, Clean School Bus USA, encourages policies that eliminate unnecessary school bus idling, retrofitting of effective emission control systems on newer buses, and replacement of the oldest buses in the fleet with newer ones. 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. On June 13th EPA announced that the $5 million appropriation was being made available in the form of grants nationwide, and solicited applications for submittal by August 1st. As a result of the Clean School Bus USA grant solicitation, EPA received 116 applications from across the country requesting nearly $60 million in funds for projects to reduce emissions from school buses.

In October 2002, the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency obtained a $75,000 grant from EPA through their Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program to establish a retrofit pilot project with the Buncombe County Schools’ Transportation Department. Eighty-eight of the 288 buses in the Buncombe County Schools fleet were retrofitted with emission control equipment in July 2003 using these funds. Building on momentum from this pilot project, WNCRAQA again approached Buncombe County Schools, as well as other school districts in the surrounding area to inquire about interest in applying for funds through EPA’s Clean School Bus USA Grant Program to establish a regional retrofit project. These inquiries resulted in interest from Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, and Transylvania County Schools.

In July of this year, WNCRAQA developed the regional retrofit project workplan and submitted it for consideration under EPA’s Clean School Bus USA Grant Program. This workplan outlines a proposal to reduce school bus emissions by placing emission control equipment on 184 additional buses in the Buncombe County Schools fleet, 63 buses in the Haywood County Schools fleet, 37 buses in the Madison County Schools fleet, and 37 buses in the Transylvania County Schools fleet. Diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), similar to catalytic converters on cars, are the retrofit control equipment to be employed in this project. DOCs have been verified by EPA to reduce emissions from diesel combustion by the following amounts: particulate matter – 20%, carbon monoxide – 40%, hydrocarbons – 50%.

For more information about the project, please contact Justin G. Greuel of WNCRAQA at (828) 250-6777, or at justin.greuel@buncombecounty.org.