News | March 26, 2024

EPA Enforcement Action Leads To Settlement With School Bus Transportation Company For Alleged Clean Air Act Violations

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with First Student, a company that owns, operates, and stores school buses throughout the United States, including in Connecticut. EPA alleges that the company violated federal clean air standards by allowing buses in two Connecticut locations to idle for excessive periods of time. Working cooperatively with EPA, First Student reached a settlement agreement and has developed a compliance program that is intended to reduce excessive idling of school buses.

"EPA works hard to ensure that communities can enjoy clean air each and every day. Companies that operate fleets of vehicles have an obligation to follow regulations to limit engine idling. Fumes from idling engines can aggravate health conditions like asthma for people living nearby, as well as emitting pollutants that degrade air quality over a wider area, and cause climate change," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "Clean Air Act settlements, like this one, showcase our continued dedication to protecting people's health and our environment including in communities that have suffered from a disproportionate burden of environmental pollution."

EPA inspected First Student's Weston, Conn. location and its West Harford, Conn. facility, which is in an environmentally overburdened area. EPA's inspections revealed the operation of school bus motors that went over the state's three-minute idling maximum, contained in the federally enforceable Connecticut State Implementation Plan.

Under the terms of the settlement the company has agreed to pay a penalty of $96,223 , and will implement various compliance measures, some of which apply in Connecticut and others that apply in additional jurisdictions where First Student operates. These measures include posting signage, training, and coaching. Also, First Student will conduct both ongoing assessments of their operations data, and consistent observations of their bus lots, in order to correct instances of excessive school bus idling.

Idling diesel engines emit pollutants that can cause or aggravate a variety of health conditions, including asthma and other respiratory diseases. The fine particles in diesel exhaust are a likely carcinogen. Diesel exhaust not only contributes to area-wide air quality problems, but more direct exposure can cause lightheadedness, nausea, sore throat, coughing, and other symptoms. Drivers, school children riding on the buses, facility workers, neighbors and bystanders are all vulnerable. Idling also wastes fuel, contributing to carbon dioxide emissions that affect climate change.

The Clean Air Act is the law that defines EPA's responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation's air quality and the stratospheric ozone layer. The last major change in the law, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, was enacted by Congress in 1990. Legislation passed since then has made several minor changes.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency