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EPA Administrator to announce Clean School Bus grant awards in Kansas City on Wed., Feb. 21

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson will visit Kansas City on Wednesday, February 21, 2007, to announce the initial awards made under EPA's Clean School Bus USA program in the 10-state region covered by the Blue Skyways Collaborative. Blue Skyways was formed in 2006 to encourage voluntary air emissions reductions in North America's heartland and includes Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico.

The news conference will take place at Northgate Middle School, 2117 NE 48th Street, at 9:30 a.m. Northgate is in the North Kansas City School District, one of the nine school districts in Missouri that will benefit from the grant.

Johnson will present an oversized check for $215,984.55 to the Mid-America Regional Council, the organization which is administering the school bus retrofit program. Johnson County Commissioner Ed Peterson, co-chair of the Air Quality Forum for the region, will accept the check on behalf of MARC. In addition to the EPA funding, MARC has secured $975,000 in federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality funds and $50,000 from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to reduce emissions from over 1300 school buses in metropolitan Kansas City.

The Clean School Bus USA grant program addresses the problem of pollution from the diesel engines on school buses. Diesel emissions can also enter the passenger cabins of buses, exposing children to hazardous air pollutants as they ride to and from school. And diesel emissions contribute to the ground-level ozone pollution problem in Greater Kansas City.

New technologies have produced cleaner burning bus engines, but replacing an older bus fleet isn?t always practical. MARC's program is working with area school districts to retrofit older school buses with diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs). DOCs fit like mufflers and work as catalytic converters to reduce volatile organic compounds by about two-thirds. They also reduce particulate matter by more than 20 percent and carbon monoxide by 40 percent. DOCs require no additional filters, typically need no maintenance, and cost approximately $700 per bus.

The Clean School Bus USA program will assist nine school districts in Missouri: Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Grandview, Independence, Lee?s Summit, Liberty, North Kansas City, North Platte, and Park Hill. MARC will use additional funds to retrofit buses in nine school districts in Kansas: Blue Valley, Bonner Springs/Edwardsville, De Soto, Gardner, Kansas City, Kansas, Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Spring Hill and Turner.

MARC is also launching an Adopt-a-Bus initiative to solicit private sector contributions for the regional school bus retrofit program. For only $700, area businesses and civic organizations can pay for the retrofit of a school bus. Smaller donations are also welcomed, and all contributions are tax-deductible. Donors will be recognized on the MARC Web site, in media releases, and in print ads in local publications. Those interested in the Adopt-a-Bus program may call 816-474-4240 for more information.

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