EPA Goes After School Bus Contractor for Excessive Idling, Fines & Penalties Amounting to $500KAs a part of their ongoing crusade to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come down hard on the nation’s second largest school bus contractor with fines and “mandatory environmental projects” amounting to approximately $500,000 as punishment for “excessive idling.”

“As part of a settlement for alleged excessive diesel idling in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Durham School Services will commit to reduce idling from its school bus fleet of 13,900 buses operating in 30 states,” an EPA press release stated on Tuesday.

The case started two years ago when one of the unelected environmental watchdogs noticed buses of the Durham School Services would idle for what they felt were “excessive” amounts of time.

“State rules limit idling to three minutes in Connecticut and five minutes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where the infractions occurred,” writes CNS’ Elizabeth Harrington.

According to the EPA report, the buses would idle for up to two hours before disembarking to go pick up schoolchildren.

“Durham reached a settlement for the violation and agreed to pay $90,000 in penalties. It also agreed to pay for $348,000 worth of environmental projects, including implementing a national training and management program ‘to prevent excessive idling from its entire fleet of school buses,’ [emphases added]” Harrington writes.

Which means Durham has agreed to require its supervisors to “monitor idling in school bus lots, post anti-idling signs in areas where drivers congregate, and notify the school districts it serves of its anti-idling policy.”

As mentioned in the above, the EPA’s enforcement of these fees and mandatory projects is part of a larger campaign to cut back on idling, thereby offsetting carbon footprints.

“By reducing the idling time of each bus in its fleet by one hour per day, Durham would reduce its fuel use by 1.25 million gallons per year and avoid emitting 28 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year,” the EPA release stated, adding, “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.”

But wait, this gets better. Harrington writes:

According to the EPA, as of 2006, 30 states plus the District of Columbia had either state, county or local anti-idling regulations in place, with the city of Philadelphia setting the maximum allowable time for diesel powered motor vehicles at two consecutive minutes.

The EPA Web site even provides a “do it yourself kit” for those wishing to bring the anti-idling campaign to their school district, providing brochures, posters, a “Teacher’s Guide for use in reinforcing key messages of the Idle-Reduction campaign,” and pledge cards for drivers that read, “I’m doing my share for clean air.”

Also available for order are bus driver key chains “that can be used by bus drivers daily to remind them that they hold the key to a healthier ride,” and a five-minute training video entitled “Reducing School Bus Idling: The Key to a Healthier Ride.”

Also referenced is California’s 2003 anti-idling regulation that bus drivers must to turn off their vehicle within 100 feet of a school and must not turn the bus back on more than 30 seconds before beginning to depart – or face a minimum penalty of $100.

Diesel fumes pollute the air, waste fuel, cause “excess engine wear,” and are harmful to children’s health, the EPA claims.

“Children, especially those suffering from asthma or other respiratory ailments, are particularly vulnerable to diesel exhaust,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

“EPA is pleased with this settlement, which will dramatically limit school bus idling and help protect the health of school children in dozens of communities across the country,” he said.