The Clean Commute for Kids Act: California Leaders Drive the Effort to Transform Our Nation’s School Buses

The Clean Commute for Kids Act: California Leaders Drive the Effort to Transform Our Nation’s School Buses

With back to school season around the corner, our nation’s children are top of mind. Adults are doing everything they can to prepare for this occasion, ranging from getting school supplies to preparing classrooms for the upcoming year.

What many people don’t realize is that the nation’s school bus fleet poses a huge opportunity to act on climate AND reduce air pollution in our communities. Over 25 million children ride the bus to school along with the bus drivers taking them there. This means that the same number of people are constantly exposed to breathing polluted air from the estimated 500,000 diesel school buses across the country, not to mention the communities they serve.

Fortunately, we have elected officials who see the potential for climate action and ensuring clean air for our kids.

Earlier this year, Senator Alex Padilla and Representative Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), along with Reps. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act of 2021. If passed, the bill would authorize $25 billion to transition the nation’s school bus fleet to electric buses over 10 years, resulting in cleaner air, labor standards for workers, and the creation of good-paying union jobs.

For years, marginalized families have worked hard to provide clean air for their children. Rep. Cárdenas and Sen. Padilla’s leadership on this important piece of legislation proves once again the impact of having climate champions represent California on the federal level. Thanks to them, California’s voices are at the forefront of policy that would not only change the lives of children in our state, but also the lives of children across the nation.

In California, the Clean Commute for Kids Act of 2021 would make a significant impact on public health and air quality. Lower-income communities of color are disproportionately affected by pollution, with sources ranging from neighborhoods’ proximity to freeways, airports, oil extraction sites, and ports. Before the pandemic, “1,9000 LAUSD buses logged 23 million miles” just in this region. With LAUSD being the largest school district in California and the second largest in the country, transforming their school bus fleet alone is a great first step for climate action and reducing pollution.

As the country navigates bringing children back to school during a pandemic, buses will also make their return to the road. Imagine the larger impact giving local districts across the country the resources they need to transition their buses would have on the communities they serve and drive through on a regular basis.

Since the introduction of this bill, Sen. Padilla and Rep. Cárdenas have worked with CLCV to highlight the impact electric buses would have on public health and climate action. Together, they’ve brought attention to LAUSD’s purchase of electric buses and through participating in a Clean Bus Chat with CLCV, League of Conservation Voters, and community organizers. Outside of this bill, Sen. Padilla and Rep. Cardenas have been committed to climate action through their leadership in other critical legislation.

Transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards ensuring clean air for our communities are wins across the board. To give current and future generations a brighter future, we are grateful for bold leadership who will champion efforts to improve public health and achieve a climate-just future for us all.

Posted on July 27, 2021 in ECOVOTE BLOG.

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