New Mexico’s Children Need Electric School Buses
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled with Volkswagen over Clean Air Act violations after it was found that the car company cheated on clean air testing for their diesel vehicles. As a part of that settlement, New Mexico is receiving approximately $18 million to reduce diesel emissions in communities across the state.
We believe these funds should be re-invested in initiatives that stand to enhance the air quality of local communities and school districts, especially in low-income communities and communities of color where students and families are most at risk of breathing dirty air, and are disproportionately suffering from pollution. Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund’s program Juntos: Our Air, Our Water is calling on New Mexico leaders to allocate the majority of these funds to transition school buses from diesel to electric.
In New Mexico, there are approximately 166,000 kids who ride school buses to school each day, over half of whom are youth of color. The majority of those school buses are powered by diesel engines, exposing children to diesel fumes on their way to and from school each day. With so many children exposed to pollution, it’s no coincidence that more than one in 11 children suffer from asthma in our state.
This fall, we organized community meetings and actions to raise awareness about this campaign and call on Gov. Martinez and the administration to take action. Join us – there are several ways that you can get involved:
Talk to other parents, students and teachers about this campaign. School buses across the state are heavily reliant on diesel fuel, which means that this campaign would apply to most school districts across the state. Help us spread the word by sharing this campaign with the connections you already have in your community.
Call the New Mexico Environment Department at 505-827-2855 and ask them to commit to a formal public comment period for the Volkswagen Settlement plan. As of now, the department has yet to announce a formal process for collecting public input to shape this mitigation plan. Communities most impacted by diesel pollution deserve transparency in understanding how their comment can be submitted, and how their voice will be included in the decision-making process.
Call Gov. Martinez at 505-476-2200 and urge her to prioritize transitioning school buses from diesel to electric. The governor is the ultimate decision-maker in prioritizing these funds and we need the governor’s office to lead on this issue and call for a strong school bus transition.
For other ways to get involved or stay informed, contact Molly Sanders, CVNMEF Program Director at Molly@CVNM.org.
By Molly Sanders, CVNMEF Program Director