|Many in Education Community Oppose Rule 1195|
LOS ANGELES -- Education groups, school districts and education officials are uniting in opposition to South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1195 that generally limits school districts to the exclusive purchase of natural gas buses.
To date, at least 19 school districts, 12 key educators, and six educational groups and associations, including the Malibu Teachers Association and the Riverside County Schools Advocacy Association, have added their names to a list of those who support a fuel-neutral bus rule. These organizations and individuals in the education community such as Dr. Neil Schmidt and Barbara Winars, both school superintendents, are urging the air management district to give schools a choice between compressed natural gas and California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified clean diesel fuel. They say that by allowing school districts that flexibility means they will be able to replace a greater number of older, dirtier diesel school buses sooner and achieve greater emissions benefits for school children and the community.
It is notable that of all school districts under South Coast regulatory control, only the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District voted in favor of curtailing diesel school bus purchases in favor of CNG-powered school buses. The vote came as board members and candidates jockeyed to position themselves with voters for an upcoming board election during a public hearing a few weeks ago.
The SCAQMD maintains that funds are available to help school districts transition from diesel to compressed natural gas. However, those funds are limited and do not address the additional costs for fueling natural gas buses over CARB-certified Green DieselT buses-the low-sulfur diesel alternative. Moreover, natural gas buses get an average of one half the fuel mileage of Green DieselT buses.
According to Brett McFadden of the Association of California School Administrators, "Rule 1195 will hinder south coast districts from replacing their aging school bus fleets."
If the rule is adopted, the increased fuel cost for converting to natural gas in the first year will be nearly $1.3 million in the South Coast district alone. Over 10 years, the total cost balloons to $71 million. Meanwhile, SCAQMD has failed to address the issue of skyrocketing natural gas prices that are expected to remain high for years due to California's emerging energy crisis.
"Schools are already paying far more to heat their classrooms-it would go without saying that the SCAQMD should not require school districts to cut further into classroom budgets to convert our large school bus fleet to natural gas," said Delaine Eastin, California state superintendent of public instruction.
In another development, an advocacy group known as Books and Buses says that the $30,000 cost differential between the price of a CNG bus and a clean-diesel bus, calculated across the number of buses that are expected to be purchased, will cost the equivalent of 321,000 textbooks, 2,500 computers, or 248 teachers at $40,000 per year.
|Last Updated on Monday, 12 October 2009 11:28|