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Clean School Bus USA Event, Portland, Maine

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
Howard C. Reiche Elementary School
Portland, Maine

April 17, 2003

Thank you for that introduction. It = s great to be here at Reiche Elementary. Earlier this month, I announced a new program to help protect the quality of the air we breathe by using new technology to make the exhaust from school buses much cleaner and by eliminating unnecessary idling. This program is called the Clean School Bus USA initiative.

Every day in America, 24 million children travel safely to and from school on 440,000 school buses. Those buses travel more than 4 billion miles each year B and as those of you who = ve studied the solar system know, that = s the equivalent of four round-trip visits to the planet Jupiter. That = s a lot of driving B and it = s also a lot of air pollution B millions of pounds of soot and smog-forming gases each year. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to significantly reduce pollution from school buses and improve the health of those who ride them B by replacing older, dirty buses with new, A clean @ buses B that are up to six times cleaner than the older buses.

These new buses use cleaner fuel or new technology to reduce their emissions into the air. This means cleaner air in our communities and healthier students in our schools. Of course, replacing older buses with new, clean buses isn = t easy and it isn = t cheap. That = s why the EPA, in partnership with numerous organizations from the environmental, health, and business communities, along with numerous state and local officials, is launching the Clean School Bus USA initiative.

Our goal is simple B to ensure that by the year 2010, every public school bus on the road in all 50 states is a clean school bus, emitting less pollution and contributing to cleaner air. We are funding this program with a $5 million appropriation that we will make available to local school districts nationwide to help defray the costs of upgrading their bus fleets. An additional $20 million from a recently announced settlement action will also be made available to communities upgrade school bus fleets.

Because we = re using a cost-sharing program, our Clean School Bus USA program will leverage funds already budgeted for school bus replacement, giving districts more for their money B and I know that = s something school boards always appreciate. Here in Portland, you have made great strides in modernizing your public school bus fleet over the past several years. What was once one of Maine = s oldest public school bus fleets is now one of its most modern.

In addition, you have implemented a firm policy against unnecessary idling of your buses. There = s no reason to let buses sit in the parking lot running when they = re not in use. That just pollutes the air and wastes gas. That = s why we = ve also set a goal of reducing school bus idling by an average of 30 minutes per bus per day all across the nation. That will not only cut air pollution, it will also save 17 million gallons of diesel fuel each year.

Working together B using all the tools available to us B can really make a difference for the environment B and, more important, for the students who ride these buses B our children. Cleaner buses mean fewer respiratory ailments, fewer school days lost to illness, and a brighter, healthier future. I want to applaud all those who are supporting this important effort, especially right here in this district. By working together, we can make sure that every schoolchild in America is riding a clean school bus before most of the children here have graduated from high school. So thank you for your leadership here in this district B you are an example of how much good work can be done when we put our minds to it. Thank you.