Children’s Health Month Event

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , /

Andrew Wheeler:
Good morning. Thank you all for being here. On September 28th, President Trump issued
a presidential proclamation declaring today, October 1st, as National Children’s Health
Day. Each year since 1928, under a joint resolution of Congress, the president has proclaimed
National Children’s Health Day. In his proclamation, President Trump stated that, “My administration
is actively working to create environments in which families can grow stronger and children
can realize their full potential.” We’re here today to highlight many of the
ways that EPA is helping protect children where they live, where they learn, and where
they play. I’d like to thank all the parents and children with us today, along with the
National School Transportation Association, the Diesel Technology Forum, and the National
Environmental Education Foundation. Thank you, kids, for coming today. [applause] The National Environmental Education Foundation
was established in the Environmental Education Act. I actually — when I worked in the Senate
for Senator Inhofe, I worked on its reauthorization, along with Senator Clinton, many years ago.
A special thank you to Ed McDermott, who’s here today with us. A bus driver of 29 years,
he has dedicated his career to protecting children and serving his community. Children
are uniquely vulnerable to the potential health effects of environmental hazards, such as
contaminated drinking water, air pollution, or lead exposure, and that is why we are here
today to get the word out on EPA’s many programs and grants that can help states,
local governments, and schools protect our nation’s children. There are multiple offices
at EPA dedicated to protecting children, including our own Office of Children’s Health Protection. Every month, the Office of Children’s Health
Protection engages with 13,000 stakeholders through community-based outreach activities,
conference presentations, the Children’s Health Monthly Newsletter, and multiple websites.
And they helped us put on today’s event. I just had a great meeting in my office where
the parents of students of all ages represented our new catalog that details many of our programs
and grants available t o help protect children’s health. From reducing childhood lead exposure
to minimizing asthma triggers and contact with harmful chemicals, the booklet explains
many of the programs and grants we have to offer communities, to help protect our children’s
health. To the media here today, I hope that you can
help us increase awareness of these tools currently available to our nation’s educators.
We’re also here today to discuss the ways that EPA is protecting our children outside
the classroom, which is why we’re here in front of this school bus. Only this isn’t
just a regular school bus; this bus is equipped with a new, clean diesel engine thanks to
funding from EPA’s school bus rebate program. Through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act,
or DERA, EPA is helping school districts upgrade older buses with new, clean diesel engines
that reduce emissions and improve air quality. The new and retrofitted buses reduce pollutants
that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung disease, and today I am proud
to announce the availability of our next round of DERA funding. EPA will offer approximately $9 million in
rebate funding to school bus fleet owners to replace buses with engine models of 2006
and older. The application open period is now open and will close on November 6th. You
are eligible to apply if you’re a regional, state, local, or tribal agency with jurisdiction
over transportation or air quality, including school districts and municipalities. You are
also eligible if you’re a private entity that operates school buses under a contract
with an entity listed above. I encourage as many people to apply as possible.
Since 2008, the DERA program has funded more than 700 clean diesel projects across the
country, reducing emissions in more than 70,000 engines. This program is an innovative way
to improve air quality across the country and to provide kids with safe, reliable transportation
to and from school. Before I close, I have one more announcement
to mention. The EPA recently announced the first of three grants under the Water Infrastructure
Improvement for the Nation Act. This first grant will support the testing of lead in
drinking water in schools and childcare facilities. This grant will include a total of 20 million
in funding for states and territories, including 1.2 million for tribal schools. To support
this new grant program, today EPA is releasing the updated three T’s for reducing lead in
drinking water in schools and childcare facilities. EPA’s training, testing, and taking action
document will assist schools as they work to implement their lead and drinking water
prevention programs. Together, EPA’s new grants and the three T’s will provide states
and schools with the necessary tools to protect children from lead in drinking water in our
schools. Nearly 74 million children under the age of
18 live in the U.S. All of them deserve a chance to reach their fullest potential. Thank
you all for attending today, and I hope you’ll help us inform the American public of the
tools and resources available to protect our nation’s children. And now I have the pleasure
of introducing Dale Krapf, the chairman of the board for the National School Transportation
Association to share a few remarks on why cleaner, safer transportation is vital to
our children’s future. Dale… [applause] Dale Krapf:
Thank you, Administrator Wheeler. Good morning. My name is Dale Krapf, chairman of the board
of Krapf School Bus company. Headquartered in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the company
was established in 1942 by my parents George and Elinore Krapf, beginning with two school
buses. Today we are still family run, but operate in five states. Last year, we celebrated
our 75th anniversary. Today I also represent the National School Transportation Association,
the trade association for private school bus contractors. My family business has been successful
not just because we have followed sound business practices, but because our focus has always
been on our communities and most importantly our most precious cargo: the children we transport
to and from school every day. We have a saying in our industry that we bleed
yellow, which signifies our commitment to the safety of the children we transport. School
transportation is a uniquely American industry and as part of our country’s commitment
to public education, each day nearly 500,000 school buses transport over 26 million school
children to and from school, more than intra-city bus transportation, rail, and aviation combined.
According to DOT statistics, the school bus is the safest form of surface transportation
today, bar none. Our commitment to safety and children’s health is not only focused
on preventing accidents, but also protecting the overall health of our kids. That is why
we have been a strong and consistent supporter of the DERA program and even before that,
the Clean School Bus program. We continue to partner with a broad coalition
of interests that includes manufacturers, the end users of diesel technology in many
sectors, state and local governments, and public health advocates, all working to support
the highly cost effective program. One of the specific initiatives within DERA that
we worked on with EPA is the school bus rebate program, which allows local school districts
and companies under contract to those districts equal access to funding. We take older buses
with high emission ratings, which are still in service, off the road and replace them
with new buses that emit at least 95 percent less pollution than the ones being removed.
The old buses are then destroyed. I’m delighted that the Krapf School Bus
— that Krapf School Bus received one of these rebates last year, ,which we used to purchase
the bus on display today. It is the example of the many buses that local school districts
and companies under contract to those districts around the country are able buy to keep their
children safe and the air much cleaner by taking older, more polluting, but still serviceable
buses off the road. We have developed a wonderful working relationsip with EPA at every level.
That coorperation is continuing today. I’m please to be here with Acting Administrator
Wheeler who started his career at this agency and worked on this program when he was on
Capital Hill. I believe he is committed, as we are, to the DERA program and the larger
goal of clean air and protecting children’s health. Thank you for the opportunity to be
here today and be part of this wonderful event and this great program. Thank you. [applause] Andrew Wheeler:
Thank you, Dale.

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