HAYES, CÁRDENAS STATEMENT ON REINTRODUCTION OF CLEAN SCHOOL BUS ACT

February 25, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) reintroduced the Clean School Bus Act, which would create a new program providing $1 billion dollars over 5 years to replace diesel school buses with electric ones. The bill is co-led by Representative Tony Cárdenas (CA-29). In the Senate, the bill is led by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) and Patty Murray (WA).

Every day, more than 25 million children, and thousands of bus drivers, breathe polluted air during their commute to school, which has a negative impact on student health and attendance, particularly for students with asthma and other respiratory conditions. School buses, which make up roughly 90 percent of the nation’s bus fleet and are the nation’s largest form of mass transit, traveled roughly 3.3 billion miles in 2017. A recent study indicated that reduced exposure to air pollution from school buses can result in student test gains in math and English. Electric buses not only reduce dangerous air pollution for those riding a school bus but also for the local community and cars driving behind a school bus while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, the bill creates a new program within the Department of Energy with the purpose of issuing grants up to $2 million for the replacement of diesel school buses with electric ones, to invest in charging infrastructure, and to support workforce development. Low-income school districts would be prioritized for grant funding.

“Pollution and climate change have been threatening the lives of our children and the health of our environment for decades. We have less than 9 years to ensure their effects are not irreversible. There is no time to waste,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The fumes from diesel school buses are polluting our communities and threatening the health of our children, teachers, and bus drivers. These fumes are even more threatening to communities with disproportionately high levels of asthma. COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem by attacking the lung health of our communities and diminishing access to health care. The Clean School Bus Act will address this crisis by providing $1 billion over 5 years to replace diesel school buses with clean energy buses, and prioritizing the communities most in need. The health of our children and longevity of our environment demand this investment now.”

“Communities across America – specifically communities of color – are facing some of the worst health and respiratory problems due to outdated and crumbling infrastructure,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “Deteriorating water pipes, poor air quality due to low fuel standards, and crumbling roads and bridges are hurting vulnerable communities. I’m proud to partner with Representative Hayes on the commonsense bill to replace old diesel busses with new, cleaner, and fuel-efficient busses. Now, during the coronavirus crisis, we have an even greater responsibility to create good-paying American jobs, equip our nation with 21st century infrastructure, make critical investments in clean energy technology, and set ourselves on a path to a strong recovery in the years to come.”

In the 116th Congress, the Clean School Bus Act had 52 cosponsors and was recommended by the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis as legislation to address pollution and climate change.

The text of the Clean School Bus Act in the 116th Congress, as well as its cosponsors, can be viewed here.

The full Select Committee report recommending the Clean School Bus Act is viewable here.

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Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.

Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.