Washington, D.C. — Today, Senators Kamala Harris, Jeff Merkley, Cory Booker, Tina Smith, Bernie Sanders, Catherine Cortez Masto and Dianne Feinstein introduced the Clean School Bus Act, the first federal legislation to prioritize the electrification of school buses in low-income and most impacted communities. These efforts have been shaped by years of advocacy from the League of Conservation Voters’ community organizing program Chispa and its coalition partners.
Since 2017, Chispa’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign has advocated for state legislators and school districts to invest in electric school buses in Nevada, Arizona, Maryland and New York and is currently pushing Colorado, New Mexico and Connecticut to do the same.
The campaign began by calling on governors and decision makers across the country to put the health of our children and families first by using funds from the Volkswagen settlement to fund zero-emission, electric school buses — starting in low-income and communities of color where students and families are most at risk of breathing dirty air and disproportionately suffer the effects of diesel pollution.
“Our children and our communities have a right to breathe clean air,” said Fernando Cazáres, National Director of Chispa, a community organizing program of LCV. “Research has shown that exposure to toxic diesel emissions results in respiratory illnesses, particularly among school children for whom asthma attacks are a leading cause of absenteeism. The proposed legislation would reduce pollution in low income communities, most-impacted, and communities of color first. It is exactly the kind of leadership we need from lawmakers at the state and federal levels right now.”
“We applaud Senators Kamala Harris, Jeff Merkley, Cory Booker, Tina Smith, Bernie Sanders, Catherine Cortez Masto and Dianne Feinstein for this commitment to the health and well being of our country’s children and families — we desperately need clean, zero-emission transportation options that won’t pollute the air our children breathe,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. “The Clean School Bus Act will help protect all communities from environmental harm, especially the low income families and communities of color who are disproportionately burdened by pollution. We encourage Congress to move quickly to pass this common sense legislation.”
“Polluting school buses should not endanger our children’s pursuit of an education and it is time for the United States to follow Nevada’s lead and provide clean, safe rides to school for our kids,” said Rudy Zamora, Program Director of Chispa Nevada. “We need an urgent transition to zero-emission, electric school buses.”
“This national action is an important step forward for the health of our children,” said Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Chispa Maryland Director. “Every state and school district should transition their bus fleets to clean, zero-emission vehicles like we are in Maryland.”