CALPIRG Joins Assemblymember David Chiu, Others to Announce Bill to Transition California’s Schools Buses to Zero-Emission Vehicles

Media Contacts
Emily Rusch

Vice President and Senior Director of State Offices, The Public Interest Network

Sacramento, CA–Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) today proposed legislation to set a framework for school districts to build zero-emission school bus fleets. Assembly Bill 1418 would put California school districts on a pathway towards utilizing zero-emission vehicles rather than polluting diesel school buses.

“Diesel school buses pollute our air and expose our children to dangerous carcinogens on a daily basis,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “This legislation will put California on a pathway towards a greener future.”

Numerous studies have shown that inhaling the diesel exhaust generated by diesel school buses can cause a number of respiratory issues and negative health impacts. Electric school buses can make for a healthier commute for students and reduce carbon emissions.

Out of the 25,000 schools buses currently operating in California, fifteen percent of these buses will soon age out of their useful lifespan, making this an opportune time to transition a significant portion of California school buses to electric, zero-emissions vehicles. Electric buses can also create  significant cost savings to schools districts.

AB 1418 creates a partnership between schools, private utilities, the California Air Resources Board, the Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission to share data and set goals to transform California’s fleet of school buses.

Earthjustice, NextGen Policy, and Environment California are sponsoring AB1418. A number of clean energy advocates and students expressed support for the measure at a press conference today.  

“In 2019, why should we submit California kids to choking on smelly, toxic diesel fumes as they ride to school? Zero-emission school buses are modern, safe, and readily available technology that are healthier for our kids, our air and our climate,” said Adrian Martinez, Earthjustice staff attorney. “We applaud Assemblymember David Chiu for introducing Assembly Bill 1418 to pave the road for zero-emission school buses and look forward to his colleagues’ support. California kids have the right to zero.”

 “We can’t keep sending students to school on buses that pollute the very air they breathe. That’s why NextGen America is proud to cosponsor AB 1418 – to ensure every California student can have access to clean, healthy, modern transportation,” said David Weiskopf, Climate Policy Director at NextGen America.

“Getting an education shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or increase the chances that kids will get sick,” said Emily Rusch, Executive Director of CALPIRG. “Electric buses are here, they are ready to roll, and every school district figure out their plan to switch from diesel to electric buses.” 

“Electrification of transportation is critical for achieving our clean air and climate goals. And what better focus than school buses and protecting our kids,” said Dr. Alberto Ayala, Executive Director/Air Pollution Control Officer of the Sacramento Metropolitan  Air Quality Management District. “The Sac Metro Air District has deployed the nation’s largest electric school bus fleet and we are ready to partner and do more. We thank Assemblymember Chiu for his leadership and vision on a sensible approach to get school buses off oil and combustion as soon as possible.”

The bill will be heard in Assembly Transportation Committee today. Audio from today’s press conference in Sacramento can be found here.