Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., and Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., have introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act to transition the nation’s school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and protect children’s health.
The bicameral legislation would invest $25 billion to replace existing diesel buses with electric buses. On a typical day before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 25 million American children are exposed to air pollution when they ride over 500,000 predominantly diesel buses to school.
“Providing a quality education for children starts before they even arrive at school,” says Padilla. “I know firsthand how outdated diesel school buses expose our young people to harmful pollution. Children in working-class communities – like the one I grew up in – face higher rates of asthma and respiratory issues, which have a direct impact on their ability to learn. Transitioning our school bus fleet to ZEVs is an essential aspect of building equitable, sustainable infrastructure and is a wise investment in our children, our environment and our future.”
The Clean Commute for Kids Act authorizes $25 billion over the next 10 years for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – with assistance from the Department of Energy – to provide grants to replace existing buses with zero-emission buses. Forty percent of this funding would go toward replacing school buses serving environmental justice communities. Funding awarded to school districts may cover up to 100% of the replacement costs of zero-emission buses, including acquisition and labor costs for charging infrastructure, workforce development and training, and planning and technical activity costs.
Groups that have voice their support of this legislation include the American Federation of Teachers, CALSTART, EarthJustice, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, GreenLatinos, the League of Conservation Voters, Chispa, Mom’s Clean Air Force and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
A copy of the bill is available here.
Photo: Sen. Alex Padilla