The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has awarded nearly $43 million to help school districts in the Southland region of Los Angeles purchase clean-burning compressed natural gas and propane buses to replace the dirtiest diesel school buses in their fleets. More than 98% of the funds are allocated for CNG projects, including almost $37 million for the Los Angeles School District for 260 CNG buses. The AQMD awarded more than $3 million to help school districts retrofit 176 newer diesel school buses with particulate traps to reduce diesel emissions.

"The number of school buses being replaced or retrofitted with this award is extraordinary and it's a giant step toward our goal of cleaning up all school bus fleets in the region," said William A. Burke, Ed.D., chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. "This will help thousands of school children and their communities breathe a little easier." The award will enable 13 school districts across the Southland to replace 304 model year 1987 and older buses with new, cleaner burning compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane buses.

Alternative-fueled school buses are substantially cleaner than the older diesel buses they replace. In addition, these buses emit no diesel soot, which is the source of about 84 percent of all air pollution cancer risk in the region.

Funding for today's bus replacements is provided through Proposition 1B approved by voters in November 2006 and the state's Carl Moyer Program. Since 2000, SCAQMD, the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, has approved more than $152 million to replace over 930 older diesel school buses with cleaner models and retrofit 2,991 newer diesel buses with particulate traps.