“It is very hard to learn when you can not breathe.” That’s the message Green for All founder Van Jones had for Governor Brian Sandoval (R) last Saturday. He joined Chispa Nevada and over 100 grassroots community activists in Las Vegas to call on the State of Nevada to invest in cleaner school buses for Nevada students.

What’s at stake?

Volkswagen has agreed to pay a total of $19 billion to settle the criminal and civil cases involving its diesel emissions cheating scheme. Volkswagen claimed its vehicles were “clean diesel”, even though they were actually in violation of federal fuel economy standards.
Nevada will likely receive $24.8 million from the Volkswagen settlement over the next 10 years. Chispa Nevada recently launched the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign to urge Governor Sandoval to use some of that $22 million from the Volkswagen settlement to replace older, dirtier diesel-powered school buses with clean, electric school buses.

“[… W]e should all be able to agree that our kids deserve better.”
– Van Jones

Photo by Andrew Davey

Van Jones has spent the past decade advocating for not just green jobs, but also economic and environmental justice for communities of color. On Saturday, Jones connected the dots as he explained why money obtained from Volkswagen’s dirty diesel settlement should be used to retire the dirty diesel buses that endanger the health of Nevada’s school children, particularly students of color who rely upon these buses for transportation.

Chispa Nevada is holding a #CleanRide4Kids event with Van Jones to ask the State of Nevada to invest in cleaner school buses for CCSD students.

Posted by Nevada Forward on Saturday, August 19, 2017

More from Chispa Nevada's #CleanRide4Kids event with Van Jones

Posted by Nevada Forward on Saturday, August 19, 2017

“Most school children today are forced to ride dirty diesel buses that spew toxic fumes and particulates into their lungs and communities. Over time, this has a tremendous impact on their breathing, mental focus, and general health,” Jones said. “Every child who rides a bus to school or to any other activity should be able to ride a bus that is as clean as it is safe.”

“As moms, our children’s health is our number one priority.”
– Caitlin Hippler, Moms Clean Air Force

Photo by Andrew Davey

Caitlin Hippler joined Moms Clean Air Force earlier this year as part of her mission to protect her children. She and the nationwide grassroots network of concerned parents are joining forces with Chispa to defend Nevada’s children from diesel pollution. After the rally, Hippler spoke with us some more about why she cares about clean buses for healthy niños.

Vien Truong is the Director of Green for All, the environmental justice organization founded by Van Jones. She further explained the need for cleaner school buses. The American Lung Association has ranked the Las Vegas region as one of America’s most polluted metropolitan areas. A (relatively) little investment in cleaner school buses can make a big difference in Nevada’s air quality and students’ health.
Photo by Andrew Davey

During the rally, Truong framed this fight as another thing parents do to keep their kids out of harm’s way. “Protecting our kids from harm today means more than making sure they don’t run off with strangers or break a leg from playing too rough. It also means fighting to protect the very air they breathe.”

“Protecting our kids from harm today […] means fighting to protect the very air they breathe.”
– Vien Truong, Director, Green for All

Governor Sandoval’s administration is now deliberating over how to invest the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds. Under the terms of the settlement, the bulk of the funds must be used to make medium and heavy-duty vehicles more efficient. Chispa and its allies are working to convince Sandoval to invest the settlement funds where they can do the most good.
At the rally, Chispa Nevada Director Rudy Zamora implored upon Sandoval to act on behalf of Nevada’s kids. “The health of over 181,000 children here in Nevada is at risk simply because they ride dirty diesel buses – we’re ready for Governor Sandoval to take a stand.”