SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today presented John Clements, former Director of Transportation for the Kings Canyon Unified School District (Reedley, Calif.), with the region’s prestigious Environmental Champion award for his work to deploy zero emission, battery-electric school buses and refrigerated lunch delivery trucks in the San Joaquin Valley, and for his statewide work as a clean transportation advocate. The award was presented by EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, Jared Blumenfeld, at the Northern California Alternative Car Expo in Richmond, Calif.

“Soot and grime from school bus exhaust not only pollutes the air, but can have serious health impacts on residents, especially children,” said Regional Administrator Blumenfeld. “EPA is proud to recognize Mr. Clements, whose work to reduce bus emissions will help shield kids and parents from harmful particles, and fight climate change.”

“Electric school buses and trucks will help complement Kings Canyon Unified School District’s previous efforts involving alternative fuels. These zero emission vehicles will help support the District’s desire to protect childrens’ health through clean transportation technology deployment. Kings Canyon looks forward to its continued work with federal, state and local agencies in advancing and demonstrating more of these technologies in future,” said Mr. Clements.

Mr. Clements worked for 39 years as school transportation professional in San Joaquin Valley, Calif. and has been a strong advocate for adopting clean school bus technologies and operational techniques as a strategy for reducing particulate matter (PM), ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx), and other air pollutants to protect residents’ health.

Research shows over 90 percent of Californians breathe unhealthy levels of one or more air pollutants during some part of the year, and pollution from vehicles, such as that from buses and delivery trucks, emit over 80 percent of regional NOx (an ozone precursor) in the San Joaquin Valley.

In addition to his vehicular clean technology work, Mr. Clements has worked to bring together numerous clean transportation stakeholder groups—including the U.S. EPA West Coast Collaborative Public Fleets Workgroup, and the California Air Resources Board’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project Workgroup—to find ways to improve air quality for San Joaquin Valley residents.

In addition to the important health benefits of reducing emissions from diesel engines, there are also climate change co-benefits from reducing greenhouse gases and black carbon. Black carbon, found in the particulate matter emitted from diesel engines influences climate by directly absorbing light, reducing the reflectivity (“albedo”) of snow and ice through deposition, and interacting with clouds.

Each year, the Pacific Southwest office encourages citizens in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawai’i and the Pacific Territories to nominate individuals, non-profits, businesses, local governments and other groups for environmental awards. This program offers a great opportunity to recognize individuals and groups outside of the EPA who are working to protect public health and the environment. Awards are granted to scientists, teachers, journalists, citizen activists, young people, organizations, business representatives, tribal leaders, public officials, and others committed to protecting public health and preserving our natural surroundings.

For more information about EPA’s environmental award winners, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/awards

More information about black carbon can be found on the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/blackcarbon.

For more information on EPA’s diesel emission reduction grant program and projects, please visit:

Image Info: John in front of his Electric school bus | Flickr Creative Commons