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EPA Administrator Praises Maine’s Efforts to Curb School Bus Pollution

Release Date: 09/21/04
Contact Information:

Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

For Immediate Release: September 21, 2004; Release # 04-09-08

PORTLAND, ME – EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt visited a Portland elementary school today to recognize Maine’s efforts to reduce soot emissions from hundreds of diesel school buses across the state, including dozens in the Portland School District.

Using a grant from EPA’s “Clean School Bus USA” program, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is spearheading a program that will result in 300 school buses being retrofitted with pollution control equipment that will curb emissions of particulate matter (soot), carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. DEP is working with 26 school districts on the project, making it the first statewide program of its kind in the country.

Joined by state and local environmental and school officials, Leavitt recognized six area school transportation directors who have been leading retrofit efforts in their districts. Twenty buses have been retrofitted so far and the remaining 280 buses are scheduled to be upgraded by the end of the year, including two-dozen in the Portland School District.

“Maine is a national model in its commitment to clean school buses,” said Leavitt, speaking at the Presumpscot Elementary School, which will be getting two retrofitted school buses later this fall. “The state of Maine, school transportation directors and the community are taking actions to ensure their children are breathing healthy air as they travel to and from school each day.”

The school department and districts recognized today are the:

    • Portland Public Schools
    • South Portland School Department
    • Westbrook School Department
    • Gorham School Department
    • Oxford Hill Schools
    • Maine School Administrative District #6, serving Buxton, Hollis, Limington, Standish and Frye Island, as well as parts of York and Cumberland counties
Maine was one of 17 demonstration projects selected nationwide last year for $5 million in funding specifically authorized by Congress under EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program. Launched in April 2003, the Clean School Bus USA program is aiming to have all school buses in the country be clean school buses by 2010. One of only two recipients selected in New England, Maine received a $567,376 grant from EPA. The state has also received $100,000 in funds from the US Department of Energy for alternative fuel school buses.

Maine DEP is helping 26 school districts in both urban and rural areas across the state acquire diesel oxidation catalysts to retrofit 300 school buses. These catalysts will reduce pollution by at least 20 percent from each bus. Maine has also committed to buy 180 new school buses which will be equipped with pollution control technology.

In 2002, Maine launched a “Doing My Share for Clean Air” campaign to promote improved technology and practices to reduce student exposure to diesel school bus exhaust. As part of the campaign, DEP has collaborated with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation to reduce school bus idling statewide by developing comprehensive outreach materials for school officials, transportation directors, bus drivers and parents.

Exposure to diesel exhaust can pose health risks, including triggering asthma symptoms and other respiratory ailments. Asthma is the most common long-term childhood disease, affecting 6.3 million children. Like the other New England states, the childhood asthma rate in Maine is over 10 percent.

Children are especially sensitive to air pollution their lungs are still developing and they breathe at a faster rate. Lower emissions of diesel exhaust benefit not only America’s school-aged children, but teachers, parents and all members of the community.

EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program is encouraging school districts to reduce idling of buses, retrofit existing buses with pollution controls and replace the oldest school buses with new ones. For more information about EPA’s efforts in New England to reduce pollution from school buses, visit For more information about EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program, visit

The Maine public school districts that will participate in the Clean School Bus USA program are:

Brunswick School Department
Union #42, Readfield and Monmouth
MSAD #1, Presque Isle, Limestone, and Bridgewater
River Valley School District, MSAD #52, Turner Wiscasset School District
MSAD #6, Standish
MSAD #9, Farmington
MSAD #27, Fort Kent
MSAD #47, Oakland and Waterville
Oxford Hills School District
Gorham School Department
Westbrook School Department
MSAD #77, East Machias
 Freeport School District
Medway School District
Portland Public Schools
South Portland Public Schools
Caribou School District
MSAD #41, Milo School District
MSAD #43, Mexico
Ellsworth School District
Falmouth School District

Related Information:
Diesel Exhaust
Clean School Bus USA
Air Enforcement