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DEQ says it will replace more than 450 older buses with Oregon's share of the national settlement with the German automaker, which tried to thwart diesel-exhaust testing systems.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Students line up at a clean-diesel bus serving Catlin Gabel School on the westside. More than 450 older, dirty-diesel school buses will be replaced statewide, thanks to a legal settlement with Volkswagen. Oregon's money from the landmark Volkswagen diesel settlement will be used to replace at least 450 older diesel-spewing school buses, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday.

Funding comes from $72.9 million the state expects from the $2.9 billion national settlement Volkswagen agreed to after it was caught manipulating testing devices for its diesel vehicles. VW's efforts allowed vehicles to be sold and operated that didn't meet U.S. clean-air standards.

Oregon has about 2,800 diesel-powered school buses on the road with engines built before 2007. Later-model buses are cleaner-burning, thanks to federal legislation.

The 450 diesel buses to be replaced are those the state calculated would still be in the fleet by 2025, Oregon's target year for eliminating dirty-diesel school buses.

Diesel is known to cause cancer, and children are particularly susceptible to its impact because their lungs are developing and they have higher respiratory rates than adults.

Studies have documented the health benefits for students who travel on lower-emission school buses, including improved lung function, reduced incidence of bronchitis and asthma and decreases in absenteeism, according to DEQ.

After its emissions-testing scam was exposed, Volkswagen agreed to settle claims brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, the California Air Resources Board and attorneys acting on behalf of owners of subject vehicles.

Oregon had the largest per-capita share of VW diesel cars in the country.

For more information about DEQ's VW settlement plans:

www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/programs/Pages/VW-Diesel-Settlement.aspx

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@SteveLaw/Trib

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