President Bush's 2005 budget proposal will include an unprecedented $60 million in new funding to expand the Clean School Bus USA program, a national partnership to reduce the emission of air pollutants from school buses. The increase from $5 million to $65 million was announced by EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt during a visit to a Pittsburgh-area elementary school that is equipping its school bus fleet with state-of-the-art emissions control devices.
EPA initially launched the program in April, 2003, with the goal of upgrading the nation's entire school bus fleet to low emission buses by 2010. Clean School Bus USA will help ensure that school buses are the cleanest possible transportation for this generation of school children.
The expanded program will provide grants to governmental entities to replace pre-1991 school buses with new clean school buses offering state-of-the-art emission control and safety features and to retrofit post-1990 school buses with similar advanced emission controls. A total of $65 million will be provided for the program in 2005, a thirteen-fold increase over 2004 funding levels.
At the McKnight Elementary School in McCandless Township, Pennsylvania, Administrator Leavitt demonstrated to students how a diesel-oxidation catalyst works to reduce air pollution from school buses. McKnight is part of the North Allegheny School District, which received a $125,000 grant from EPA in October to retrofit its fleet of 100 school buses with emissions-controlling catalysts. Diesel-oxidation catalysts use a chemical process to break down pollutants in the exhaust stream and transform them into less harmful components. These catalysts can reduce particulate matter by at least 20 percent, carbon monoxide by 40 percent and hydrocarbons by 50 percent.
The Clean School Bus Program brings together school districts and administrators, their bus-fleet operators, health advocates, fuel providers, bus manufacturers and emissions-technology innovators to craft a collaborative, cost-effective program to protect the health of school children and the public.
EPA is working aggressively to reduce pollution from new diesel engines by requiring them to meet progressively tougher emission standards. Diesel vehicles are very durable, and school buses can remain in service for 20 to 30 years. Consequently, many school buses on the road today were manufactured before the stringent emission standards of recent years took effect.
For more information on Clean School Bus USA, go to http://www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus/.
For more information on EPA Region 3 (includes Penn.) Clean School Bus Program, go to http://www.epa.gov/reg3artd/vehicletran/vehicles/schoolbus.htm .
EPA Issues New Guidance and Database for Research Models
To increase public understanding of the science behind EPA policy, Acting Deputy Administrator Steve Johnson and Science Advisor Paul Gilman announced new draft guidance on the use of research models at EPA and a web-accessible database, the Models Knowledge Base. An environmental model is a representation of the real environment, which is used for studying the current environmental status or for predicting future conditions. At EPA, models are used to show the transport of pollutants through the atmosphere, estimate pollution's impacts on human health and the environment, and to evaluate the costs and benefits of alternative policies for environmental protection.
The "Draft Guidance on the Development, Evaluation, and Application of Regulatory Environmental Models" recommends best practices to determine when a model can best be employed to inform environmental decision making. The Models Knowledge Base is a web-accessible database containing the Agency's frequently used models, and information on each model's use, development, validation and assessment. The database also has three tools for model selection (complete listing, keyword search, and browse by environmental indicators) and a web-based chat room for the user community.
"These complementary products will work in tandem to describe and document good modeling practices. By providing access to our tools and methods, we can improve the public's understanding of how sound science is used to make environmental decisions, " said Steve Johnson.
"These products help to foster a culture of transparency and openness by making EPA's research process more visible to the public," said Paul Gilman.
These products were developed in response to requests by former EPA Administrator Whitman in Feb. 2003 and are scheduled for review by an independent panel of experts established by EPA's Science Advisory Board. Following this review, EPA intends to make any necessary changes and to ask for public comments on the resulting final products through a Federal Register Notice.
Both products are available from EPA's Council for Regulatory Environmental Modeling (CREM) Internet site at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/crem/. For more information on these products or the CREM, please contact Pasky Pascual at 202-564-1566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAS Report Outlines Air Quality Progress, Future Challenges
Recommending steps to steadily strengthen the nation's clean air program in the face of anticipated challenges, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has issued a report that provides an in-depth study of EPA's air quality management under the Clean Air Act. The report acknowledges the progress EPA has made in the implementation of the Act and the substantial air quality improvement since the early 1970s. In particular the report highlights the reductions that have resulted from the control of industrial facilities and cars and trucks, and the effectiveness of "cap and trade programs" in achieving emission reductions. The report makes a broad range of recommendations for improving the nations air quality system. Many of these recommendations reinforce the direction that EPA has been taking in recent years. For example, developing integrated multi-pollutant approaches to control pollutant emissions, and applying "cap and trade" programs to control air pollution. While the report provides a number of specific proposals for improving the air quality management system, the report points out that much of the system is good and warrants retaining. The NAS supports the gradual evolution of EPA's program and encourages ongoing air quality management activities. The Academy acknowledges that decisions to protect public health and welfare should continue despite scientific uncertainties. EPA intends to carefully evaluate the NAS recommendations as part of continuing efforts to improve the effectiveness of the nations air pollution program. The report is available online at: http://www.nationalacademies.org/environment/ .
Sloan-Kettering Fined for Failure to Properly Manage Hazardous Waste
EPA announced that it has cited Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City for violating numerous hazardous waste management requirements. The Agency is seeking full compliance and $214,420 in penalties for the violations.
"Hospitals and healthcare facilities must consider the proper handling of hazardous waste an integral part of their mandates to protect people's health," said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. "Chemotherapy waste is an especially toxic waste produced by many medical facilities. Hazardous waste regulations are in place to help to ensure that facilities like Sloan-Kettering do not release these or other toxic chemicals into the environment.
EPA discovered violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at Sloan-Kettering during a March 2003 inspection. They included improper storage and disposal of chemotherapy and dental solid wastes, as well as a general failure to determine whether they were hazardous wastes. Sloan-Kettering has 30 days to respond to the complaint.
In 2002, EPA started the Hospital and Healthcare Initiative to help hospitals and healthcare facilities comply with environmental regulations as part of a larger EPA voluntary audit policy. The Agency established the policy to encourage prompt disclosure and correction of environmental violations, safeguarding people's health and the environment. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement effective compliance strategies. As part of the initiative, EPA sent letters to 480 facilities in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and held free workshops to help hospitals comply. In addition, the Agency established a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law, and warned hospitals that EPA inspections of their facilities - with risk of financial penalties - were imminent.
Hospitals that wish to take advantage of the Agency's voluntary self-audit program can investigate and disclose environmental violations to EPA and, if certain conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties. To date, fourteen healthcare organizations have entered into voluntary self-audit disclosure agreements with EPA. The Agency is continuing to conduct inspections.
EPA's FY 2005 Budget Empowers Agency to Accelerate Environmental Protection
President Bush's 2005 budget provides $7.76 billion for the Environmental Protection
$133 million increase over the 2004 budget request. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, joined by key Agency officials, announcing the budget at a Washington, D.C. news briefing, expressed pleasure with the resources being provided to the Agency.
"With the President's budget, we can increase the velocity of environmental protection -- protecting our land, cleaning our air and cleansing our water -- efficiently, effectively and without impairing the economy," Leavitt said. "We are adopting better ways – facilitating collaboration, harnessing technology, creating market incentives – and we are committed to measuring progress, not process."
To build on the progress in protecting children's health and the successful national partnership to reduce emissions from school buses, the President's budget provides an increase in funding, from $5 million to $65 million, for the Clean School Bus USA program.
To ensure cleaner, safer water, the President's budget provides:
- $45 million for the Great Lakes Legacy Program, almost five times the 2004 level of $10 million, for sediment remediation located at as many as six sites, helping to keep toxics such as PCBs and heavy metals from entering the food chain, where they may cause adverse effects on human health and the environment.
- $25 million for the Targeted Watersheds Program, a $10 million - 67 percent increase over the 2004 Consolidated Appropriations legislation level, allowing for competitive grants to communities to implement watershed protection and restoration plans and funding a $10 million regional pilot program to help publicly-owned treatment works implement nonpoint source projects to comply with nutrient discharge limits in the Chesapeake Bay.
- $20 million for a new water-quality monitoring initiative to provide $17 million in grants and $3 million in technical assistance to help States and Tribes develop and implement statistically representative water quality monitoring programs. This consistency across programs will eventually allow EPA to make a national determination of water quality and ensure resources target the highest priority problems.
To ensure cleaner lands through waste site clean-ups and continuous monitoring, the President's budget provides:
- A total of $210 million for Brownfields cleanup, a $40 million - 24 percent - increase over the 2004 Consolidated Appropriations legislation level. The funding includes an increase for grants and loans to fund clean up of lightly contaminated sites.
- $1.4 billion for the Superfund, a $124 million -10 percent - increase over the 2004 Consolidated Appropriations legislation level. This increase reflects a 48 percent boost targeted for the Superfund's remedial program, which will allow for 8-12 additional construction starts in 2005 and for a similar number of additional completions by 2006.
- A $26 million - 217 percent increase over the 2004 Consolidated Appropriations legislation level to strengthen EPA's partnership with the States to monitor underground storage tanks. Recognizing that States have primary responsibility for monitoring tanks, issuing permits and enforcing regulations, the additional grant money will provide funds for States to inspect a larger universe of federally regulated underground storage tanks on a more frequent basis as they continue to administer the Underground Storage Tank Program under delegated authority from EPA.
To ensure strong and efficient regulatory, research and enforcement activities, and improved collaboration with states through grant programs, the President's budget provides:
- $4.4 billion — the highest level in EPA history — $33 million, or one percent, above the 2004 budget. The Operating Program consists of EPA's core regulatory, research and enforcement activities and state program grants.
- $1.25 billion for EPA categorical State grants, the highest level in EPA history. This $84 million- 7 percent - increase will provide additional resources to States and tribes to run their core environmental programs. Included within this total is a new $23 million State and Tribal Performance Fund which will award competitive grants for projects that can demonstrate environmental and public health outcomes.
"We are ready for the next big leap in productivity," Leavitt stated. "We've made enormous progress over the past thirty years, and this budget will enable the EPA to pursue even better ways to care for the environment and protect people's health."
For more information visit http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/ and follow the link to the FY 2005 Budget.