Chispa CT Delivers over 3,000 Petitions to Gov. Malloy calling for Electric School Buses

Betsy López-Wagner, blopez-wagner@lcv.org, 708-717-9408

Today, Chispa CT delivered petitions to Governor Dannel Malloy on behalf of more than 3,000 Connecticut parents who are demanding he use Volkswagen settlement funds to buy zero-emissions electric buses to replace diesel-fueled buses exposing kids to dirty air and cancer-causing pollutants. They were then invited into the Governor’s office to discuss the electric bus proposal with his staff.

Connecticut health advocates and community organizers described how the state’s current diesel buses pollute the air children breathe, especially in low-income and communities of color, where students and families suffer disproportionately from respiratory problems. In Connecticut, 467,000 children ride buses to and from school each day to over 164 school districts, which serve more than 548,000 students – over a third of whom are Latino or black.

The Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut, a diverse group of healthcare professionals, public health professionals, environmental advocates, faith based groups, labor organizations and hundreds of concerned citizens, joined the petition delivery to announce its full support of the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals in the home and in the environment, such as diesel pollution,” Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut spokeswoman Anne Hulick said. “Diesel exhaust is particularly harmful and is classified as a potential human carcinogen; exposure to diesel exhaust is linked to various respiratory problems, including asthma and reduced lung function. We strongly support efforts to electrify transportation and specifically, to purchase electric powered school buses that will significantly reduce exposure to harmful diesel emissions to some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Chispa, a community organizing program of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) in coordination with the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), started the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign after Volkswagen was found to have cheated federal emissions tests, polluting our air for decades. Volkswagen is now paying a $14.7 billion settlement and Connecticut stands to receive $55 million through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.

Thousands of parents and dozens of local organizations have joined Chispa CT in calling on lawmakers to invest Volkswagen settlement dollars in electric buses for local communities and school districts

“Our coalition and community partners have banded together to ensure that we end the needless poisoning of our state’s youth and communities, and meet the emissions and energy goals that Connecticut has set,” said Abi Rodriguez, interim state director for Chispa CT. “We believe Governor Malloy to be a great advocate for the environment, our communities, and children’s health. That’s why we encourage him to act now and use a portion of the VW Settlement funds to transition our schools to electric, zero-emission buses.”

After the petitions were delivered, Governor Malloy’s office invited Chispa CT representatives to a meeting with his policy director.

Chispa CT is a community organizing program of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. Chispa builds the capacity of Latinos and families to influence policy makers and pressure polluters to protect communities’ rights to clean air and water, healthy neighborhoods, and a safe climate for generations to come.

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