September 12, 2019
LANSING – A coalition of environmental groups today applauded the rollout of 17 electric school buses for seven Michigan school districts through a Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation pilot project. The buses will transport children to and from schools in Ann Arbor, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Oxford, Roseville, Three Rivers and Zeeland.
“The Environmental Law & Policy Center was one of the earliest advocates for replacing dirty diesel school buses with zero-emission electric school buses,” said Susan Mudd, senior policy advocate at the Midwest-based environmental group. “Adopting electric school buses both benefits children’s health and accelerates the shift to cleaner transportation. We hope this collaborative approach between schools, utilities and state government serves as a model for other states across the country.”
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE)’s Fuel Transformation Program is helping replace old diesel school buses using funds allocated to Michigan via the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement. This is the first grant opportunity supported with Volkswagen settlement funds allocated to Michigan via the State Mitigation Trust. The project will be collaboratively funded by the grant, school districts and other partners, including utility companies.
“This is a win-win for Michigan’s kids and Michigan’s environment. Children spend an average of 40 minutes a day in a school bus and the air pollution caused by diesel buses can interfere with lung development and cause health problems like coughing and inflammation,” said Charles Griffith, director of climate and energy programs for the Ecology Center. “We are proud to have been a supporter of the electric school bus pilot project from the beginning, and look forward to additional opportunities to reduce emissions and improve health with future grants from EGLE’s Fuel Transformation Program.”
According to a study by the University of Michigan and the University of Washington, using cleaner school bus transportation could result in 14 million fewer absences from school a year.
“This is an important first step to bringing clean, electric transportation to schools and our communities,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “In addition to the short-term benefits of improving air quality and keeping kids safe and healthy, we will see long-term benefits as we address the causes of climate change in our daily lives.”
Diesel exhaust emissions and the soot emitted by engines can exacerbate asthma and allergies, cause lung damage and eye, throat and bronchial irritation.
“We are excited to see Michigan put on the map as a leader in transportation electrification for school buses,” said Kate Madigan, director for the Michigan Climate Action Network. “The harmful emissions from diesel buses can impact respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological health of children, who are especially vulnerable. Moving to zero-emission school buses will reduce pollution, improve health and save lives.”