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Maine Receives Half-Million Dollar Grant for Clean School Buses; Project Selected From Among 120 Applicants Nationwide

Release Date: 10/22/2003
Contact Information: David Deegan, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1017

AUGUSTA, ME – Over 260 Maine school buses will be retrofitted with pollution control equipment under a “Clean School Bus USA” grant. EPA’s New England Regional Administrator, Robert W. Varney, today awarded a check for $567,376 to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which in turn will be distributed to 20 local school districts across the state so that pollution control equipment can be used on 266 diesel school buses. This technology will help to reduce emissions of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.

Joined by Maine environmental and education officials, as well as congressional staff, Varney said the state was one of 17 demonstration projects selected nationwide for $5 million in funding specifically authorized by the U.S. Congress this year under EPA’s 2003 Clean School Bus USA grant competition. The projects, chosen from among 120 applications, will help reduce pollution nationwide from over 4,000 school buses and remove 200,000 pounds of diesel particulate matter from the air over the next 10 years. In addition to the federal funds, the17 grant recipients are contributing close to $5 million in matching funds to the clean school bus projects.

“The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has done a superior job coordinating with school districts across the state to develop a statewide grant submission that will have impressive air quality benefits” said Varney, speaking at a press conference at the Statehouse in Augusta. “EPA’s contribution today will provide pollution-control equipment for over 260 buses which will provide a cleaner bus ride for countless students, many of whom ride the buses for lengthy periods of time.”

With funds from EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will help 20 school districts in both urban and rural areas across the state acquire diesel oxidation catalysts to retrofit 266 buses. These catalysts will reduce pollution by at least 20 percent from each bus. The state will establish a subgrant program to distribute EPA grant funds directly to the school districts. For their contribution, the state of Maine has committed to purchasing 180 new school buses, which will also be equipped with pollution control technology. As a result, a total of 446 school buses will be equipped with diesel oxidation catalysts as part of this project.

The grant comes on the heels of Maine DEP last year launching 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 this campaign, the 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 others.

Launched in April 2003, EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program is helping to reduce bus pollution for the 24 million children who ride buses everyday. 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. Children are especially sensitive to air pollution because 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
MSAD #1, Presque Isle
River Valley School District, MSAD #52, Turner
Wiscasset School District
MSAD #6, Standish
MSAD #9, Farmington
MSAD #27, Fort Kent
MSAD #47, Oakland
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