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Peninsula School District in Gig Harbor, Washington Graduates to Cleaner Buses

Release Date: 03/13/2006
Contact Information: Contact: Wayne Elson, (206) 553-1463, Tony Brown, (206) 553-1203,

$300,000 in EPA funding with $500,000 in matching funds

(Gig Harbor, WA. - Mar. 13, 2006) Peninsula School District students will be breathing cleaner air next year thanks to an $800,000 investment in new, cleaner-burning diesel powered school buses. A $300,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant announced today coupled with $100,000 from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and $400,000 in matching funds from the School District will help protect students from breathing noxious bus exhaust beginning next year.

The EPA grant is part of the "Clean School Bus USA" program and will allow the Peninsula School District to replace eight of their 1981-1991 model year school buses with 2007 model year buses that will meet the latest EPA diesel emission standards. With the new buses, the District expects a 98 percent reduction in particulate matter, a 97 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides and an 89 percent reduction in non-methane hydrocarbons.

"Getting these old, smoky diesel engines off the road is one of the best things we can do for our kids' health and the environment," said Michael Bogert, EPA's Regional Administrator in Seattle. "We're proud to be able to assist The Peninsula School District with its already strong program to upgrade its school bus fleet."

In 1995, Peninsula School District had the oldest school bus fleet in the state. Since then, the District has been working to systematically replace four to six buses per year. The District is also already ahead of the game because its buses operate on ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). Cleaner ULSD will be the required on-road diesel fuel beginning October 15, 2006.

"This is just the shot in the arm we need to accomplish what we've been working on for the last 10 years," said Marcia Harris, Deputy Superintendent for the Peninsula School District. "The work that is funded by these grant dollars will be a great benefit not only to the School District, but also to the surrounding community."

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is contributing an additional $100,000 to the school district to augment EPA’s Clean School Bus USA grant. The Clean Air Agency has been working with Peninsula School District to retrofit 16 of its school buses as part of the Washington State Clean School Bus Program funded by the 2003 Washington legislature. However, several highly-polluting buses were too old and dirty for retrofit devices to effectively reduce the soot and smoke coming out of their tailpipes. The grants announced today will allow replacement of these dirtiest buses.

“These buses raise a health concern for children, bus drivers and the community. Without this grant and additional funds awarded from our agency, eight buses would have remained in use and on the roads of Gig Harbor for years to come,” says Dennis McLerran, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. “Now these ‘smokers’ will be headed for the scrap yard – replaced by new-model buses meeting the new 2007 EPA highway diesel engine emission standards, which reduce harmful diesel emissions by over 90 percent.”

This year, EPA awarded 37 grants totaling $7.5 million as part of the Clean School Bus USA program. The initiative encourages policies and practices to eliminate unnecessary school bus idling, install effective emission control systems on newer buses and replace the oldest buses with cleaner diesel or compressed natural gas powered buses. The grant recipients are contributing an additional $13 million in matching funds and in-kind services.

In Washington State these grants compliment an aggressive $5 million school bus retrofit program being administered by the Washington Department of Ecology and local air agencies. These grants also compliment similar efforts by the West Coast Collaborative to reduce diesel emissions from other sectors such as: agriculture, construction, locomotives & rail, marine vessels & ports, and trucking.

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