From left: Dan DeGrow, RESA superintendent; Larry Aspenleiter, East China School District transportation director and retrofit project manager; U.S. Rep. Candice Miller; Frank Johnson, Yale Public Schools superintendent; Dr. Rodney Green, East China School District superintendent.
EPA grant helps RESA cut diesel emissions
so area students can breathe easier
The air breathed daily by the more than 25,000 schoolchildren in St. Clair County will soon be improved, thanks for a $166,185 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The grant will pay for retrofitting up to 180 county school buses with emission reduction devices.
Congresswoman Candice Miller, R-10th District, on Monday, Oct. 27 presented Dan DeGrow, superintendent of the Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), with a ceremonial check representing the grant.
The EPA grant will buy diesel oxidation catalysts. The catalysts, which reduce diesel emissions of particulate matter, will be installed on buses used by RESA, all seven St. Clair County school districts and Croswell-Lexington schools. Buses built before 2006 will be retrofitted with the converter; buses built after 2006 come equipped with the device.
Rep. Miller, who supported RESA's efforts at securing the grant, said St. Clair County is on the leading edge with this project. She called the grant a first-hand demonstration of something society is doing to improve our children's quality of life.
Robert Rusch, environmental quality specialist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Larry Aspenleiter, transportation director for the East China School District, also spoke at the presentation.
Rusch noted that the grant is part of the EPA's Clean School Bus USA program, designed to reduce children's exposure to diesel exhaust. According to Rusch, the program reduces the amount of time that buses idle, replaces older buses with new, less polluting buses, and retrofits existing buses with the converter. Aspenleiter said retrofitting St. Clair County buses will "provide rewards that are long-lasting for our children, our community and our environment."
Rusch said that about a thousand buses in the state have already been retrofitted.
Attendees at the RESA event could view a diesel oxidation catalyst, as well as a bus on which it had been retrofitted.
Rep. Miller noted that in addition to helping children be healthier, the project will get them thinking about the environment. "When kids see this process of cleaning diesel engines, it will trigger creativity and excitement in them as well to see what they can do to make a difference," she said.