EPA Honors Coachella Valley Transit, Santa Barbara for Air Initiatives

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Coachella Valley’s SunLine Transit Agency for owning and operating a hydrogen generation and dispensing station, and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District for encouraging car-free travel in Santa Barbara.

Coachella Valley and Santa Barbara are among 14 organizations and one individual recognized by the agency's 10th annual Clean Air Excellence Awards.

“Innovation and commitment are the keys to environmental progress, and our Clean Air Excellence Award winners are tremendous examples of these traits,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

Located in Coachella Valley, the SunLine Transit Agency was the first transit agency to own and operate a hydrogen generation and dispensing station, operating five generations of hydrogen buses that use the fuel station. With the support of state and federal agencies, SunLine upgraded the hydrogen station to also allow the public and outside fleets to purchase hydrogen 24 hours a day. SunLine received its "first in the nation" Hydrogen Hybrid Internal Combustion New Flyer bus in December 2004 and received a hydrogen fuel cell bus the next year. The hydrogen buses in SunLine’s fleet have logged more than 174,000 miles to date.

Santa Barbara Car Free is a community project founded and led by district to encourage car-free travel to and around Santa Barbara. The project started in 1998 to address the peaking ozone levels during visitor season after the county was designated a "serious" ozone nonattainment area. At its Website, visitors can find free maps, Amtrak travel specials, discount packages with local hotels, attractions, and restaurants, all designed to reduce pollution and establish Santa Barbara as a sustainable tourist destination and community.

This year’s awards recipients were selected out of 124 applicants and represent achievements in clean air technology, education/outreach, regulatory policy, innovation and transportation efficiency. Two additional special awards are given for outstanding individual achievement and for overall environmental excellence.

Clean Air Act programs have cut air pollution from tailpipes and smokestacks, improving air quality and the health of millions of Americans. While the U.S. economy has expanded, combined emissions of the six common pollutants – including lead, smog and soot – have declined 54 percent since 1990. Despite this progress, about 127 million Americans live in counties that do not meet at least one of the national air quality standards, so EPA and state, tribal, and local governments continue efforts to protect air quality, public health and the environment.

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