February 23, 2006
SACRAMENTO -- The Air Resources Board has approved procedures to implement a $25 million state program to replace or upgrade many of California's oldest, most polluting public school buses. The board adopted the procedures today at its monthly meeting.
"The goal of the Lower Emission School Bus Program is to help reduce children's exposure to both cancer-causing and smog forming pollution," said Dr. Robert Sawyer, ARB Chair. "This is a pollution problem that can be remedied with new and improved equipment. We now have the funds to help make that happen and we are proceeding."
A 2003 study sponsored by the ARB confirmed that children can be exposed to diesel emissions from the buses they are in. The same study also confirmed that exposure to that pollution is worse in pre-1987 vehicles, which have deteriorating engines as well as interior cabins that allow more pollution into the bus.
At the direction of the Legislature, the ARB is required to choose the oldest buses for replacement first, which is a change from earlier funding patterns when ARB funded school districts according to population size. Thus, for this funding cycle, the ARB is using $12.5 million to eliminate 90 of the oldest buses in the state fleet. The second half of the funding will be used to retrofit about 900 diesel vehicles already in service. In total, these retrofits will help to reduce harmful emissions of particulate matter (PM) by 45-60 tons over an 11-year lifetime, while replacing 90-year-old buses with brand new ones will remove 135 lbs. per day of nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) and 5 lbs. per day of PM.
The state has approximately 4,000 pre-1987 buses and fewer than 300 pre-1977 buses in its public school fleets, however, not all of them are in regular use.
The Lower Emission School Bus Program was established in the 2000-2001 Fiscal Year with an allocation of $50 million through the state budget process. State funds for the first four years of the program have totaled nearly $76 million. Of these state funds, nearly $60 million has been used to replace more than 500 pre-1987 model year buses, and $16.5 million has been used to retrofit about 3,000 in-use diesel buses with strong emission control devices. For more information, click here.
"I can think of few more important public health priorities than protecting the health of our children," said ARB Chairman, Robert Sawyer. "This decision will help to clear the air for thousands of students who depend on these buses to get to school."
The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.
The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at http://www.arb.ca.gov.