The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $6.3 million in grant money to the South Coast Air Quality Management District Wednesday, with the funds earmarked for replacing aging buses.

A total of $30 million in Targeted Airshed Grants were awarded to nine projects in Alaska, California and Utah, with the South Coast Air Quality Management District receiving funds to replace 29 diesel- and gas-fueled shuttle buses at airports in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties with electric models manufactured in Southern California.

“These grants will enable states and local agencies to improve air quality in areas most affected by air pollution,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said. “EPA is committed to supporting clean air projects that will reduce air pollution in non-attainment areas and enhance public health.”

The SCAQMD will also use the funds to replace 79 old diesel school buses in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s fleet with models fueled by compressed natural gas. EPA officials said the change will reduce fine particulate emissions by 98.5 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 97.8 percent.

“The funds are a great investment in our agency’s collective efforts to help reduce students’ and residents’ exposure to harmful vehicle exhaust,” SCAQMD Executive Officer Wayne Nastri said. “Collaboration with EPA will enhance our efforts to clean the air in school districts in communities most heavily affected by air pollution.”

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