This article is part of a series produced by The Seattle Medium through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaboration of 10 black-owned media outlets across the country.
By Aaron Allen
The Seattle Medium
Sen. Patti Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Education and Health Committee, recently announced $500 million in seed funding for the Clean School Bus program she helped create.
The Clean School Bus program, funded by the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL), which committed $5 billion over five years to replace existing school buses with more environmentally friendly ones , will allow school districts to replace traditional diesel school buses with electric ones, reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change and save school districts money
According to statistics, more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers breathe polluted air on their way to school, which has a negative impact on the health and academic performance of students, especially for students with asthma and other respiratory problems.
“As we work to ensure a brighter future for children in Washington State and across the country, it’s crucial to the health of our students and the future of our planet that we invest in zero-emission transportation. ,” said Murray. “This legislation is good for the health of our students, our economy and our planet.”
According to Murray, transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. With approximately 500,000 school buses on the road traveling more than 3 billion miles annually, this investment will help school districts transition to cleaner buses and reduce emissions nationwide. The legislation comes as Washington state school districts commit to electrifying their school bus fleets.
The legislation will provide $1 billion in grants to help school districts across the country. Applications for the first round of funding are currently open and will close August 19, 2022. Senator Murray urges all eligible applicants to apply.
“If we want to fight the climate crisis and secure a brighter future for our children, we need to invest heavily in zero-emission transportation and that’s a good start,” Senator Murray said. “Through these rebates, we get the money to the door and to the school districts as quickly as possible. I urge all eligible school districts in Washington State and the country to apply.
“Every child in our country deserves a pollution-free start and end to the school day,” said Laura Watson, director of the Washington State Department of Ecology. “This is an opportunity to improve the health of our communities and provide our children and our environment with a better future.
Chris Robinson, CEO and Superintendent of Tacoma Power, agrees and says this funding commitment will go a long way toward protecting the environment and increasing the use of clean energy.
“Tacoma Power appreciates Senator Murray’s innovative leadership in developing important new federal resources to electrify school buses in Washington State and across our country,” said Chris Robinson, CEO and Superintendent of Tacoma Power. “Powering next-generation electric school buses with carbon-free hydroelectricity from Tacoma Power will reduce emissions and contribute to our clean energy future.