More than 20 million children ride school buses that were built before 1990 and which spew such prodigious amounts of pollution from their diesel engines that children standing near idling buses in school parking lots -- or even riding quietly on the way to school -- may be exposed to harmful levels of air pollution.
The Environmental Protection Agency has supported school districts for years by helping to upgrade school buses with catalytic converters and other technology to reduce pollution, and the agency has also supported local citizens groups who have argued for anti-idling laws on school grounds. (The school bus is still the safest and greenest way to get your kids to school.
Now, the Department of Energy is getting in the game with a $10 million ante.
That $10 million will cover, over three years, about half the cost of a Navistar Corporation project to develop, test and deploy a plug-in hybrid electric school bus that can travel 40-miles on an electric charge.
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu (an honoree for a 2009 Heart of Green Award from The Daily Green) focused on how this initiative will reduce global warming pollution by slashing the amount of oil needed to ferry children to and from school. (By investing in the vehicles of the future," he said, "we will create new jobs while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and improving our environment.) But deploying these buses will also clean the air breathed by millions of school children every day.
There will only be 60 buses manufactured under the plan envisioned by the Department of Energy -- but over time, this technology should show the way forward, so that old polluting diesel buses become a thing of the past.
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