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EPA Administrator Whitman Visits Manchester School to Announce Availability of Federal Grant Money and Applaud New Hampshire's Clean School Bus Campaign

Release Date: 06/13/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

MANCHESTER, NH - EPA Administrator Christie Whitman visited a Manchester elementary school today to announce the availability of $5 million of grants to reduce school bus pollution and to recognize school bus fleets across New Hampshire for their leadership in curbing school bus idling.

Funded by Congress as part of this year's budget, EPA is offering up to 20 grants to help school districts across the country upgrade their school bus fleets, either by replacing older buses with new, cleaner ones or by retrofitting existing buses with devices that reduce diesel air pollution. The $5 million grant program is a key element of the agency's new national initiative, Clean School Bus USA, designed to limit children's exposure to the harmful effects of diesel exhaust from school buses.

"This money will help us kick-start the upgrading of our nation's school bus fleet so that millions of children can ride on cleaner buses," Whitman said, during a visit this morning to the Green Acres Elementary School. "Manchester and the rest of New Hampshire deserve kudos for moving aggressively to make their school buses cleaner. All across the state, environmental officials, school bus transportation providers, school officials and bus drivers are working hard to dramatically reduce school bus idling time. This kind of collaboration is a model for states and communities everywhere."

Last year, the N.H. Department of Environmental Services (DES) and N.H. School Transportation Association (NHSTA) teamed up to launch a voluntary initiative to protect school children and bus drivers from excessive exposure to exhaust emissions from school buses by reducing idling time. To date, more than 25 different fleets – representing over 60 percent of the school buses in the state – have officially adopted anti-idling policies. The Manchester Transit Authority, which operates school buses for the city of Manchester, has been an active participant in this initiative from the very beginning.

"This initiative is a great example of state government working with local governments, non-profit organizations and the business community to protect children's health and New Hampshire's environment with a no-cost, easy to implement program," said New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson at today's event. "This is a win-win initiative that benefits everyone - children, bus drivers, school personnel and the general public."

DES and NHSTA have developed a variety of materials to involve school transportation providers and school superintendents in this campaign including newsletters, workshops, and bus driver training and awards programs. Special "Clean Air Driver" magnets are given to all drivers to display in their buses to show that they have "taken the pledge" to reduce school bus idling. The next phase of New Hampshire's initiative will focus on reducing school bus emissions through retrofits and cleaner fuels.

The Manchester Health Department is in the process of designing an asthma prevalence survey to be implemented among first grade elementary school children during the next school year of 2003-2004. Reducing idling, retrofitting existing school buses and replacing the oldest buses will be an important part of any strategy to reduce children's exposure to harmful air pollutants.

The application deadline for the EPA grants is Friday, August 1, 2003. For more information about the Clean School Bus USA program and how to apply for funding under the Clean School Bus USA grant program, visit the agency's web site at: