Councilwoman Kate Gallego today pushed the Arizona State Legislature to pass HB 2453 in support of the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, led by Chispa Arizona.
“All someone needs to do is look outside to see the impact that pollution has on our community,” said Councilwoman Gallego, who represents a diverse district that includes South Phoenix. “This bill would go a long way to help our kids breathe more easily, while also supporting the schools in our neighborhoods that are in desperate need of new buses.”
HB 2453, sponsored by Representative Charlene Fernandez, requires the state attorney general to draft a plan that allocates funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to retrofit or purchase zero emission school buses, which will replace diesel-powered buses that expose school children to dirty air and cancer-causing pollutants. In Arizona, 300,000 children ride school buses to and from school.
“This will help the communities hardest hit by diesel pollution, including low income and communities of color that are already disproportionately affected by asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Our Legislature has a critical opportunity to boldly invest in the health of Arizona children. We are hopeful that the state legislature and Governor Ducey will act quickly to make the right choice and put the wellbeing of our kids first,” said Masavi Perea, program director of Chispa Arizona, a community organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters.
LCV’s Chispa started the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign after Volkswagen cheated federal emissions tests and was forced to pay a $14.7 billion settlement. Arizona stands to receive $57 million through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, which is the funding source in Rep. Fernandez’s bill.
Sierra Club, Moms Clean Air Force, Arizona STANDS, Arizona Faith Network and Earth Care Committee have also joined the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign.