PITTSBURGH — The Bush administration said it will commit an additional $60 million in the 2005 federal budget to Clean School Bus USA, a program for replacing and retrofitting older school buses to reduce emissions.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Mike Leavitt announced on Jan. 30 the plans to boost Clean School Bus USA, which began last year with a budget of $5 million. Leavitt said that with a budget of $65 million, the EPA will be able to expand the number of participating school districts across the country from 17 to about 220.
Leavitt made the announcement at an elementary school in the North Allegheny School District, which was one of the first participants in the program. In October, the district received a $125,000 grant from the EPA to retrofit its fleet of 100 school buses with emissions-controlling catalysts.
“This funding demonstrates the president’s commitment to protecting children’s health and cleaning America’s air,” said Leavitt. “It’s a big increase because, as we see here, this program works.”
Clean School Bus USA provides grants for replacing older buses with newer ones or retrofitting them with emissions-reducing devices such as diesel oxidation catalysts, which use a chemical process to break down pollutants in exhaust. According to the EPA, the catalysts can reduce particulate matter by at least 20 percent, carbon monoxide by 40 percent and hydrocarbons by 50 percent.
The program’s initial goal was to upgrade the nation’s entire school bus fleet of approximately 444,000 vehicles by 2010.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus.
In a related matter, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) has extended the deadline for applications for its Clean School Bus subgrant program, which is tied to the initial $5 million funding allocation from the EPA.
“Many members were unable to work with the local school district partners during the holidays to put together an application in time to meet the deadline,” said Jeff Kulick, the NSTA’s executive director.
The new deadline is March 31, 2004.
Kulick said another hurdle for NSTA members has been a lack of familiarity with the application process and the required federal forms. “In order to encourage private-sector participation, EPA has given us permission to simplify the process for members,” he said.
The revised application announcement is available at the NSTA’s Website at www.yellowbuses.org.