Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: It’s time to use EV buses for area students

Diesel school buses harm kids. Electric buses don’t.

Addison Central School District pays roughly $6,000/month in diesel fuel surcharges. Electric buses have no fuel surcharges.

Vermont diesel school buses emit between 25,672 to 37,760 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. Electric school buses would reduce that number by 75%.

Let’s also not forget the noise pollution. School children get to school listening to a very loud engine.

Switching to electric school buses would save Addison County school districts money now and in the future.

Federal grants and loan subsidies provide much of the funding needed.

In Vermont, the South Burlington, Champlain Valley, Fairfax, and Barre Unified school districts have begun electric school bus programs.

So, what about that claim that diesel school buses harm kids? Is that really true? Perhaps that’s just hyperbole to get your attention? Well, no. It’s not.

People die from lung and bladder cancer caused by diesel fumes in school buses, either as children or later as adults. Based on an intensive study of available evidence, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that diesel exhaust increases the risk of lung cancer in humans. The black mixture of nitrous oxide (NOx) and fine particles irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and premature death.

These same fumes contribute to asthma and allergy problems. These toxins circulate inside the bus as kids travel to and from school and pollute the air inside school buildings as buses idle outside.

Converting to electric school buses would also help us avert a Climate Catastrophe. According to the World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiative, electrifying the entire fleet of U.S. school buses would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance the development of battery manufacturing and infrastructure for medium-and-heavy-duty electric vehicles, possibly creating a tipping point for decarbonizing the entire U.S. transport sector, which is the source of almost 40% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Vermont’s Global Warming Solutions Act requires the state to take effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to electric school buses as fast as possible will help do that.

As chair of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, Bernie Sanders worked to get $5 billion into the Inflation Reduction Act to fund a transition to electric school buses. Addison County can help make sure our senior senator’s efforts bear fruit in Vermont.

Let’s get Addison County kids to school in electric buses!

Mike Palmer

Cornwall

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