WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined the American Lung Association (ALA), as well as advocates from national health organizations and school nurses in a press conference on Capitol Hill where they called for greater federal investment in zero-emission electric school buses. Carper and ALA held the press conference as the Senate returned from August recess to work on the infrastructure package and budget reconciliation bill, against the backdrop of a Blue Bird electric school bus from Delaware.
“Investments in electric school buses are investments in a better future for students across the country,” said Senator Carper. “As we work to pass once-in-a-generation climate legislation in the Senate, I’m thankful to have partners like the American Lung Association. By prioritizing the transition to zero-emission school buses, we will clean up the air that students breathe and move our nation closer to meeting our climate goals.”
“Our kids deserve to travel to and from school without being put in harm’s way, and recent polling shows that voters agree,” said Harold Wimmer, National President & CEO of the American Lung Association. “Today, we, along with our partners in the health community, called on Congress to jump start our transition to zero-emission buses with critical funding. The transition is a smart investment that will not only improve children’s health, but can also save school districts money in the long-term.”
Carper was also joined by Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.); Laura Kate Bender, National Assistant Vice President of the American Lung Association; Piper Largent, Director of Government Affairs of the National Association of School Nurses; Kristie Trousdale, Deputy Director of Children’s Environmental Health Network; Jill Aquino, school and psychiatric nurse, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments.
Roughly half of our nation’s students currently commute to school riding buses that run on diesel, which has a profound impact on their health. Studies find that exposure to air pollution as a pre-teen and teenager may adversely impact performance IQ. Air pollution is also linked to higher rates of COVID-19 death rates. These impacts of air pollution from school buses are especially felt in Black and Hispanic communities who are exposed to disproportionately high levels of particle pollution, and children from low-income communities, who are more likely to depend on school buses to get to school.
Senator Carper is a longtime advocate for clean school buses. In 2010, he authored the bipartisan Diesel Emissions Reduction Program, which has successfully replaced millions of dirty diesel engines with cleaner, American-made alternatives. As Chairman of the EPW Committee, he has also led the charge on efforts to clean up our nation’s school bus fleet and address air pollution harming children and the most vulnerable communities. This Congress, he helped secure up to $5 billion in funding for electric school buses as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.