Release 08-104
December 16, 2008

    Mary Fricke
(916) 322-2638

More than $5.5 million awarded to clean up school bus fleet

SACRAMENTO -The Air Resources Board announced today $5.5 million first-round grant monies from the Lower-Emission School Bus Program to schools within air districts for replacement and retrofit projects. These grants will affect 123 buses in 41 school districts throughout California, cutting toxic diesel particulate matter and smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions.

“School bus emissions are a serious health concern for children,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “These incentive funds will quickly get the dirtiest buses off the road.”

To date, the program has received 172 applications totaling more than $21 million in replacement projects, and 705 applications totaling $13.3 million in retrofit projects. Overall, ARB has received $35.8 million in applications to date.

ARB has also approved applications for the replacement of the remaining pre-1977 buses in these air districts totaling approximately $1.4 million.

Proposition 1B, approved by California voters in November 2006, provided almost $200 million in funding for the ARB’s Lower-Emission School Bus Program. These funds were allocated by the ARB in March 2008, allowing air districts to replace or retrofit some of the oldest, highest polluting diesel school buses.

These current revisions to the program’s guidelines allowed the local air districts to elect the ARB to implement the program in 16 local air districts.

Since the program was established in 2000, over $100 million has been provided to replace 600 of the oldest school buses in the state and retrofit an additional 3,800 buses. With the additional Proposition 1B funds, it is anticipated that a 1,000 school buses will be replaced with new, cleaner buses and 3,500 in-use school buses will be retrofitted with diesel particulate filters, thereby reducing children’s exposure to diesel exhaust emissions.

Nitrogen oxides and diesel particulate matter are toxic, associated with cancer and can also exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. Children living in communities with higher concentrations of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter had decreased lung development and may have permanent adverse effects into adulthood.

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.