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Clean School Bus USA 

General Information

Clean School Bus USA is a public-private environmental partnership that seeks to reduce children's exposure to air pollution from diesel school buses. The program emphasizes three ways to reduce public school bus emissions through anti-idling strategies, engine retrofit and clean fuels as well as bus replacement. The goal of Clean School Bus USA is to reduce both children's exposure to diesel exhaust and the amount of air pollution created by diesel school buses.

EPA is working aggressively to reduce pollution from new heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses by requiring them to meet tougher and tougher emission standards in the future. The next set of standards will take effect in 2004. An even more stringent set of standards, will take effect in 2007. At that time, new heavy-duty vehicles will be up to 95 percent cleaner than today's vehicles. It will take a long time for new vehicles to replace the heavy-duty trucks and buses currently on the road because diesel engines are durable and long lasting. Clean School Bus USA is designed to jump-start the process of upgrading the nation's public school bus fleet so that this generation of school children can reap the benefits of technologies that are available now to reduce emissions.

Consider:

  • There are roughly 450,000 public school buses in the United States; 390,000 are powered by diesel fuel.
  • New standards set by EPA will go into effect over the next 2 to 5 years resulting in cleaner bus engines. However, it will take time for these new cleaner buses to replace the existing fleet of public school buses.
  • School buses that leave their engines idling while standing, often very near schools, create indoor as well as outdoor air pollution problems.
  • About 67% (260,000) of the diesel school buses were manufactured between 1990 and 2002. These buses can be made much cleaner by upgrading or retrofitting their existing emission control systems.
  • About 33% (129,000) of all diesel school buses are pre-1990 buses. These buses are the heaviest polluters and are good candidates for early replacement.

Clean School Bus USA calls together leaders from government, community, business, education, and health care to achieve the goal of cleaning up our nation's public school buses. Clean School Bus USA partners are lending specific resources, know-how, and expertise to the campaign and are helping EPA to formulate a comprehensive plan to address public school bus emissions.

Local Press Release

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 work plan and submitted it for consideration under EPA's Clean School Bus USA Grant Program. This work plan 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.

U.S. EPA Honors Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency

Asheville, NC - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Children's Health Protection recognized the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA) as one of 15 organizations to receive a 2005 Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award for outstanding commitment to protecting children from environmental health risks.

A special awards ceremony and reception was held on April 21, 2005 at the Army and Navy Club in Washington D.C. to honor the Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award winners. WNCRAQA received an Excellence Award for its accomplishments in reducing diesel emissions from school buses in Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, and Transylvania counties. The efforts began in 2003 when a portion of the Buncombe county fleet was retrofitted with diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs). The retrofit project then expanded in 2004 to include the remaining school buses in the Buncombe County fleet, as well as all of the school buses in Haywood, Madison, and Transylvania counties. When installed, the DOC acts as an emission control, reducing diesel particulate matter (PM) released from the tailpipes of school buses. These pollutants are not only harmful to the environment, but also to human health. The project significantly reduced emissions with a 20% decrease in diesel particulate matter, a 20% decrease in carbon monoxide, and a 40% decrease in unburned hydrocarbons. In addition, the schools have implemented an anti-idling policy and are actively training drivers to further reduce emissions. WNCRAQA is now providing assistance to other communities to improve air qualities beyond its boundaries. The actions of the retrofit project are the largest of its kind in the southeastern U.S.

"Protecting children from environmental health risks is fundamental to EPA's mission to protect human health and the environment. While EPA bares much of the responsibility for ensuring that children have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and safe food to eat, there is a great deal that others can do to make sure that children are protected from environmental threats. The Children's Environmental Awards program recognizes individuals, communities and organizations who are leaders in making our environment healthier for our children. This year's 15 winners exemplify what it means to have strong commitment to children's environmental health, and EPA is proud to be honoring them for their efforts," said William H. Sanders III, Acting Director Office of Children's Health Protection.

"WNCRAQA strongly believes in the link between children's health and their environment," said Bob Camby, Director WNCRAQA. "Our school bus retrofit project is raising awareness about the importance of protecting children in our community from environmental risks and our example illustrates that taking action is the most effective means to keeping our children healthy."

This will be the first year for the Office of Children's Health Protection (OCHP) to hold the Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award program. EPA established the Office of Children's Health Protection in May 1997 to make the protection of children's health a fundamental goal of public health and environmental protection in the United States. OCHP supports and facilitates Agency efforts to protect children's health from environmental threats. The awards program will recognize both individuals and organizations for their activities in outreach, education, and intervention that protect children from environmental health risks.

For more information about the Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award, visit EPA at www.epa.gov/children.