Las Vegas, NV – Today, Chispa Nevada delivered petitions to Governor Sandoval’s local office on behalf of more than 4,000 Nevadans 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.
Nevada advocates and community organizers described how the state’s current diesel buses pollute neighborhoods and the local air children breathe. In Nevada, 181,000 children ride school buses to and from school each day.
“Our children have a right to breathe clean air, and polluting buses should not endanger them in their pursuit to acquire an education,” said Rudy Zamora, director of Chispa NV. “Nevada is home to some of the worst air pollution in the country. Since 2013, the city of Las Vegas has consistently ranked among the most polluted cities in our nation. It is no coincidence that more than 1 in 12 kids suffer from asthma in our state.”
Chispa, a community organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters, 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 Nevada stands to receive $25 million through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.
“No one should have to risk their health to receive an education, in the way that some Nevada children already have,” said Cynthia Yap, a youth organizer with NextGen America. “We’re calling on Governor Sandoval today to use the Volkswagen settlement to do something that will clean our air and protect Nevadans’ lives. By investing Volkswagen funds into this transition to electric buses, Governor Sandoval will be investing in the children of our children.”
Thousands of parents and dozens of local organizations have joined Chispa NV in calling on lawmakers to invest Volkswagen settlement dollars in electric buses for local communities and school districts, especially as the settlement details, in low-income and communities of color where students and families are most at risk of breathing dirty air and suffer disproportionately from respiratory problems.
Andy Maggi, Executive Director of the Nevada Conservation League, echoed the call for prompt state action. “Environmental injustice is increasing in the United States, and low income and communities of color are bearing the brunt of that injustice,” Maggi said. “This is a common sense, local solution to an issue that impacts so many families across our city and our state. We need Governor Sandoval to step up and help direct this Volkswagen money to the school districts to bring clean electric buses online. We have an obligation and an opportunity to get this done.”
Clean air advocates also discussed how electric buses could help mitigate the effects of climate change while saving school districts money.
“Transitioning to electric buses would save our communities thousands of dollars in the long term,” said Maria-Teresa Liebermann, Deputy Director for Battle Born Progress. “Electric buses reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent, and each diesel bus replaced with an electric bus is the equivalent of taking 27 cars off the road. This could save our school districts up to $11,000 a year in fuel and maintenance costs, and we know our school district could use those funds for many other programs.”
Chispa NV is a community organizing program of the 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.