Originally posted by Chispa Nevada and republished with permission.
Children are more susceptible and likely to be exposed to harm from air pollution than adults, according to the American Lung Association’s 2022 “State of the Air” report. This chronic exposure to air pollution can seriously impact children’s health and exacerbate respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchitis.
The Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada is home to the nation’s largest owned and operated school bus fleet. The district’s 1,924 buses cover 1,500 routes, transporting 125,000 students daily. These school buses run mostly on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to harm human health, worsening or leading to illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, and cancer. To secure greener and more sustainable transportation and cleaner air, the Clark County School District introduced its first electric school buses this year. This remarkable milestone marks a shift towards healthier air and sets a positive example and shows communities everywhere that a transition to cleaner transportation is possible.
Chispa Nevada sparked the community’s interest in the fight for a cleaner and safer environment, where our air isn’t harming us and our planet. Through grassroots organizing, education, storytelling, allyship, and support from community members and elected leaders, Chispa Nevada elevated the need for clean fleets to help our kids breathe clean air. The leadership of our promotores and community canvassing, phone banking, conducting one-on-ones, hosting house parties and lobbying our elected officials, led us to where we are today.
Ivon Meneses volunteers with Chispa Nevada, a League of Conservation Voters (LCV) program that focuses on organizing the Nevada Latinx community to increase their political power and fight for environmental justice. She has been one of our key promotoras in leading the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños (CBHN) campaign. “When I joined the campaign (CBHN), for me it was a personal fight. I have a son who has suffered from asthma since he was a baby. I do not want any more kids to suffer [from] any respiratory illnesses,” said Ivon.
Since 2017, Chispa Nevada has collected 4,000+ signatures urging their governors to invest their Volkswagen Settlement Funds in Electric School Buses. Ivon organized many community members and families to make them aware of the existing funds and demand that leaders use those funds for a clean and healthier future.
Through the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, Chispa Nevada has been working to ensure clean air and healthy communities since 2017. Thanks to the support and leadership of our community members, líderes, and partners in the Alliance for Electric School Buses we now celebrate and welcome electric school school buses to Clark County.
By incorporating electric school buses into its transportation system, Clark County aims to reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality, which aligns with the city’s commitment to combat climate change and create a healthier environment. Electric buses produce zero tailpipe emissions, eliminating pollutants such as greenhouse gasses, and electric engines are much quieter than conventional buses powered by internal combustion engines. Our future generaciones deserve to ride in school buses where noise won’t be an issue and safety will be prioritized. In fact, the absence of engine noise increases driver awareness, potentially improving road safety and reducing accidents.
Introducing electric school buses in Las Vegas creates an opportunity for community engagement and awareness in school districts. It encourages conversations about the benefits of electric vehicles, sustainable practices, and the importance of investing in renewable energy. By promoting these discussions, Clark County can be a catalyst for change, inspiring other school districts to follow suit and adopt electric school buses.
Many of the resources for clean buses came from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included significant investments in electric school buses for hundreds of school districts across all 50 states. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $400 million grant competition to help school districts buy electric school buses. This work builds on the longtime clean school bus advocacy of Vice President Kamala Harris, or very own Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and the leadership of Chispas and partners across the country to push for this to be a reality. This installment is part of a total $5 billion in eligible funding for the replacement of thousands of polluting diesel-fueled buses with electric, propane, and compressed natural gas alternatives. We continue to work to ensure that the benefits of electric buses and other clean energy advancements reach the people who need them most, especially low-income students, students of color, and school transportation workers who continue to breathe the dirtiest air.
For the second time now, school districts across the country have the opportunity to receive another round of funds for their schools. Visit the EPA website for Clean School Bus Program application information. The deadline for school districts to apply for the second round of funding is August 22nd—support on the application process ended July 14th.
Urge your school district to apply for the second round of funding for school districts by sharing the application with them!
For more information on funding and further resources and updates, visit The Alliance for Electric School Buses website.