Electric school buses remain a topic of conversation at our nation’s capital.
Sens. Tom Carper, Alex Padilla and Catherine Cortez Masto were joined on Capitol Hill Tuesday by health care advocates in urging that funding for the zero-emission vehicles be included in federal infrastructure investments.
During the press conference, speakers called attention to the benefits of zero-emission school buses for children’s health and the communities they serve.
“Investments in electric school buses are investments in a better future for students across the country,” Carper said. “As we work to pass once-in-a-generation climate legislation in the Senate, I’m thankful to have partners like the American Lung Association. By prioritizing the transition to zero-emission school buses, we will clean up the air that students breathe and move our nation closer to meeting our climate goals.”
The conference came on the heels of a new advertisement produced by the American Lung Association that is already appearing on streaming platforms, such as Hulu. The ad features children in school buses and highlights the negative health and academic impacts of diesel school buses and pollution. The ad concludes by encouraging viewers to contact their congressional representatives in support of EVs.
“Outdated diesel school buses expose our children to harmful and unnecessary pollution — hurting their health and their achievement in school,” said Padilla. “I’m proud to lead the fight to deploy electric school buses nationwide. As we work to recover from the pandemic, we must aim high to build back better and combat the existential threat of climate change. I’m excited to continue pursuing a bold agenda for the climate and our students.”
Cortez Masto added, “Our kids are our future, and we need to protect the air that they breathe. I appreciate the strong advocacy of the large coalition that includes the American Lung Association, which is why I pushed hard to make sure that the bipartisan infrastructure bill included my legislation to help our schools switch to clean buses that reduce pollution. I’ll keep working to make sure it gets signed into law.”
Time for Congress to get on board for the #ElectricSchoolBus!
Thanks @SenAlexPadilla for championing this critical transition “We know it’s better for the environment, better for public health – for our children’s health.” #CleanAir4Kids @LungAssociation @eschoolbus4kids pic.twitter.com/8kDQ8yM0Eb
— Jennifer Rennicks (@JenRennicks) September 14, 2021
A press release from the event stated that air pollution is linked to higher rates of COVID-19 death rates. The impact of air pollution in school buses is profound in black and Hispanic communities, which can be “exposed to disproportionately high levels of particle pollution, and children from low-income communities, who are more likely to depend on school buses to get to school,” the release adds.
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Related: Update: Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, Sets Stage for House Vote
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As previously reported by School Transportation News, a July 15 poll by the American Lung Association found that 68 percent of voters across all major demographics support Congress investing in zero-emission school buses. Plus, 70 percent of voters agree that transitioning school bus fleets to zero emissions is an important part of improving American’s transportation infrastructure.
“Our kids deserve to travel to and from school without being put in harm’s way, and recent polling shows that voters agree,” said Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association at the press conference. “Today, we, along with our partners in the health community, called on Congress to jump-start our transition to zero-emission buses with critical funding. The transition is a smart investment that will not only improve children’s health but can also save school districts money in the long-term.”
In August, the Senate passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, that over eight years would provide a total of $5 billion for electric and low-emission school buses. The House must pass the legislation by Sept. 27 for President Joe Biden to sign it into law. That hinges on Democrats passing a $3.5 trillion budget bill that could include billions more for electric buses.