Senator Reverend Warnock Introduces Legislation to Protect Children’s Health and Promote Clean School Transportation

The Clean Commute for Kids Act would invest $25 billion to transition diesel school buses to zero-emission vehicles
Georgia-based Blue Bird Corporation a leading innovator in green school bus technology
Senator Reverend Warnock: “Children in Georgia and across America should be able to get to and from school each day without breathing polluted air, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated challenges for children already managing respiratory problems”
Senator Reverend Warnock: “Strengthening federal funding to make our infrastructure more sustainable is an investment in the health of our country, our planet and our economy”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act to transition much of the nation’s school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles, which would help protect children’s health. The legislation, which was also introduced in the House of Representatives, would invest $25 billion to replace existing diesel buses with electric buses, decreasing air pollution and lengthening the life of the nation’s yellow school bus fleet. Nearly 25 million American children are exposed to air pollution daily, riding over 500,000 school buses that are primarily powered by diesel fuel.

In addition to helping keep Georgia students safe, the Clean Commute for Kids Act will also help create good jobs by modernizing the nation’s vital transportation infrastructure. This multi-billion dollar investment to green the nation’s school bus fleet will help keep the air and children healthy, and at the same time, will support innovations at companies like the Fort Valley-based Blue Bird Corporation that has led technological advancements in this area—recycling these federal investments into good-paying jobs for Georgians.

“Children in Georgia and across America should be able to get to and from school each day without breathing polluted air, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated challenges for children already managing respiratory problems,” said Senator Warnock. “Innovators like Georgia’s own Blue Bird Corporation are already leading the way to replace older diesel buses with cleaner, zero-emission electric school buses, and strengthening federal funding to make our infrastructure more sustainable is an investment in the health of our country, our planet and our economy. The Clean Commute for Kids Act will help keep our students safe, create good-paying jobs and modernize our country’s vital transportation infrastructure.”

“This is the kind of program that is needed to advance the deployment of electric school buses to all 50 states,” said Trevor Rudderham, senior vice president of electrification at Blue Bird Corporation, on the bill’s introduction. “The industry transports 24 million children each day—and every time a district chooses a greener alterative, we take a big step in the right direction for a better future for them.”

The Clean Commute for Kids Act authorizes $25 billion over the next 10 years for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with assistance from the Department of Energy, to provide grants to replace existing buses with clean, zero-emission buses. Additionally:

  • 40 percent of this funding would go toward replacing school buses serving communities that have been hardest hit by the adverse impacts of climate change, including communities of color and rural communities.
  • Funding awarded to school districts may cover up to 100 percent of the replacement costs of zero-emission buses, including acquisition and labor costs for charging infrastructure, workforce development and training for bus drivers and mechanics, and planning and technical activity costs.
  • This bill also directs the EPA to develop an outreach program to assist school districts in transitioning school bus fleets.

In addition to Senator Warnock, the bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), and U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) and Jahana Hayes (CT-5). The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.), Ed Markey (D-MA.), Ron Wyden (D-OR.), Jeff Merkley (D-OR.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Organizations in support of this legislation include the American Federation of Teachers, CALSTART, Earthjustice, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Green Latinos, the League of Conservation Voters, Chispa, Mom’s Clean Air Force, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

View copy of the bill HERE.

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