This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Seattle Medium through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.
By Aaron Allen
The Seattle Medium
Senator Patti Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate education and health committee, recently announced an initial $500 million in 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 has committed $5 billion over five years to replace existing school buses with more environmentally friendly buses, will enable school districts to replace traditional diesel school busses with electric busses, reducing harmful emissions that contribute to climate change and saving school districts money
According to statistics, more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers breathe polluted air during their commute to school, which has a negative impact on students’ health and academic performance, particularly for students with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
“As we work to ensure a brighter future for children in Washington state and across the country, it’s crucial for both the health of our students and the future of our planet that we invest in zero-emission transportation,” says 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 over 3 billion miles per year, this investment will assist school districts in transitioning to cleaner buses and lower emissions nationwide. The legislation comes as school districts across Washington state are committing 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 on August 19, 2022. Senator Murray urges all eligible applicants to apply.
“If we want to tackle the climate crisis and ensure a brighter future for our children, we need to invest in zero-emission transportation in a big way and this is a good start,” said Senator Murray. “With these rebates, we are getting money out the door and into school districts as quickly as we can. I urge every eligible school district in Washington state and across the country to apply.”
“Every child in our country deserves a pollution-free start and end to their school day,” Laura Watson, director of Washington State’s Department of Ecology said. “This is an opportunity to improve the health of our communities and give our children and our environment a brighter future.”
Chris Robinson, General Manager & Superintendent for Tacoma Power, agrees and says that this commitment in funding will go a long way towards protecting the environment and increasing the use of clean energy.
“Tacoma Power appreciates Senator Murray’s innovative leadership in developing significant new federal resources to electrify school buses across Washington State and our nation,” said Chris Robinson, General Manager & Superintendent for Tacoma Power. “Fueling next generation electric school buses with Tacoma Power’s carbon-free hydropower will reduce emissions and contribute to our clean energy future.”