FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        

Friday, January 31, 2020

Health Impact Assessment On Benefits of Electric Buses Released by Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund 

Santa Fe, N.M. — Today, Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund (CVNM Education Fund) publicly released a health impact assessment (HIA) about the health and

social impacts of replacing diesel-powered school buses with electric-powered school buses. The report release concludes two years of assessment work in partnership with community organizations, like Mom’s Clean Air Force, and community members in Bernalillo, McKinley and Rio Arriba Counties. 

This HIA endeavors to bring concrete health costs to the transportation decision-making process. CVNM Education Fund has multi-year community engagement programs in McKinley and Rio Arriba Counties focused around environmental issues impacting the health and quality of life of local families. During the assessment, CVNM Education Fund also had a community engagement program located in Albuquerque’s South Valley and Westgate communities. 

The assessment became a priority for CVNM Education Fund after the organization’s volunteers expressed concerns about the adverse impacts of diesel exhaust emissions from school buses on the health and well-being of their communities. Through a series of community conversations, CVNM staff determined that the adverse impacts of diesel emissions on physical and mental health, and consequently on educational attainment and income and job security, were particularly urgent concerns. As a result, CVNM Education Fund and allied organizations conducted a detailed assessment of these impacts and how they might be mitigated. 

In 2016, New Mexico received just under $18 million as a result of the Volkswagen (VW) Settlement. The funds are earmarked for programs that transition diesel vehicles to cleaner burning vehicles like alternative and electric fueled cars and buses. As the state considers projects to fund from the VW settlement in the coming years, the HIA sought to determine the potential health impacts of transitioning to electric buses to help leaders make a more informed decision. 

“We are grateful for the partnership of the many community organizations, leaders, and families that helped to shape this HIA report,” stated Demis Foster, CVNM Education Fund Executive Director. “We hope this report will amplify the experience, stories, and health concerns of those most affected by pollution so that their vision for healthy thriving families in their communities can be heard and becomes a reality.”

The HIA came up with several core recommendations, which include: 

  1. School districts should enforce bus idling restrictions to ensure that students attending their schools and the surrounding communities do not experience unnecessary exposure to air pollution from diesel school buses. 
  2. School districts should work to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric-powered school buses, prioritizing communities with a large population of low-income, Latino/Hispanic or Indigenous populations, in particular those whose students are burdened by long bus rides in rural communities. 
  3. School officials should work with their school contractors to initiate mitigation efforts immediately to decrease exposure while the transition from diesel to electric is underway. 
  4. The New Mexico Environment Department, in administering the funds under the Volkswagen Settlement, should encourage the replacement of diesel school buses with electric school buses. 

To see the full list of recommendations, and access the full report and additional documents that were released, visit: https://cvnmef.org/health-impact-assessment-report/

 

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