On Wednesday, Democratic legislators introduced a measure that would look to invest over $25 billion into efforts to upgrade school buses around the country to run on electricity rather than gasoline and diesel fuel.
The Associated Press reported that the measure is being spearheaded by a Democratic Senator of California, Alex Padilla, who had been appointed to the senate for the purpose of filling Vice President Kamala Harris’ seat after she had been elected vice president and took office.
The news outlet stated that certain studies have shown that the diesel emissions from the busses might add to respiratory issues in children and has also been connected to worse performance in the classroom.
“I know firsthand how outdated diesel school buses expose our children to harmful and unnecessary pollution,” Padilla stated to the Associated Press, going on to explain how he rode the bus in his childhood to get to school and to get to his after-school programs. “Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, my lungs would be filled with diesel exhaust by the time I arrived at school each day.”
“Transitioning our school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles is an essential aspect of building equitable, sustainable infrastructure and is a wise investment in our children, our environment, and our future,” he stated.
The Associated Press reported that efforts to get the bill about the bus upgrades through the legislature on its own will be difficult as it would require over 60 votes in order for it to get past the Senate, However, it could be slotted into a larger infrastructure package that could be passed through with a 51 count vote in the Senate using the reconciliation budget process. The bigger infrastructure upgrade package might also get more traction from lawmakers and gather more votes than a single piece of direct legislation.
The Biden administration has pushed pieces of its proposed infrastructure package this past week. Focusing on the proposal of using $25 billion to move forward the use of zero-emission school buses and transit. This past Monday, Vice President Harris went to North Caroline for the reason of discussing the $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan and to tour the Thomas Built Buses plant. The Associated Press went on to report, “The Biden-Harris plan seeks to electrify at least 20% of school buses nationally. Thomas Built Buses says it built one out of every three buses currently on the road.”
The proposal for this infrastructure upgrade has gotten support from an assortment of groups, such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, reported the AP.
“Public schools are huge consumers of mass transit, and the challenge of getting students to school buildings in a more green, efficient way is one we must tackle immediately,” stated AFT’s president, Randi Weingarten. “By investing in zero-emission school buses we can create cleaner, healthier, more sustainable school communities where our children don’t just survive but actually thrive.”