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WASHINGTON -- Local school board officials from across the United States have called on Congress to fund clean-running, zero-emission electric school buses that will make our children healthier and protect the environment for generations to come. On Tuesday, over 100 local officials signed on a letter, alongside Environment America and U.S. PIRG, calling for a $30 billion federal investment over the next 10 years, enough funding to replace half of the nation’s school bus fleets with zero-emission electric buses.
The letter comes following negotiations between President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of Congress members over the American Jobs Plan, as well as discussions on the long-term transportation spending reauthorization bill, titled the INVEST Act, voted on by the House earlier this month.
“Today’s leaders have a responsibility to the future and to invest in what we value in this world,” said Broward County School Board Member Sarah Leonardi. “We must do better for this generation and part of that means a dedication to a cleaner, more sustainable environment. Electric school buses will play an important role in that mission.”
In February 2021, Environment America and U.S. PIRG released a report outlining the ways that schools, lawmakers and utilities can work together to accelerate the transition to zero-emissions electric buses. The report focused on the long-term savings for school districts that switch from diesel to electric school bus fleets and how utilities can help provide financing assistance to cover up-front costs.
“Dirty diesel school buses endanger the health of our children and pollute our communities," said Fairfax County School Board Member Karl Frisch. "Let's use the current infrastructure debate as an opportunity to clean up the way our kids get to and from school once and for all."
Nearly 95% of school buses in the United States run on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including asthma, bronchitis and cancer. In addition to being internationally recognized as a carcinogen, diesel exhaust is also a greenhouse gas and contributes to climate change.
"Transportation is the number one contributor to carbon emissions in the United States, fueling the climate crisis more than any other single sector,” said Environment America Global Warming Solutions Associate Eve Lukens-Day. “Taking bold action to electrify our school buses is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and ensure a safe and liveable future for students across the country."
Electric school buses have the potential to make our air safer to breathe, improve public health and eliminate millions of tons of greenhouse gases emitted by U.S. buses each year. Although electric school buses are often more expensive in terms of upfront costs, the zero-emission transportation is cheaper to run in the long term, allowing school districts to reinvest more money in the classroom.
“Electric school bus technology is here and it’s ready to roll, but we need to make sure that funding programs are in place to help our schools make the switch,” said U.S. PIRG Transportation Advocate John Stout. “Clearly there is an appetite across the country for a healthier, safer, more sustainable future with all-electric school buses for our kids. It’s time for lawmakers to help make the switch to electric school buses permanent so that this generation of kids is the last one that has to get to school on dirty diesel buses.”
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