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Clean Bus Advocates Deliver Signatures to Governor Sandoval

After a year-long campaign to raise awareness and build support, Chispa Nevada and community allies announced that they collected over 4,000 signed petitions in support of Chispa’s “Clean Buses Healthy Niños” campaign to replace old diesel powered school buses with cleaner electric buses. Now that these petitions have been delivered to Governor Brian Sandoval’s (R) office, it’s up to him whether or not to direct some of the state’s share of Volkswagen Settlement funds to help school districts across the state ensure a cleaner ride for K-12 students.

How it all came about

Early this year, Volkswagen agreed to pay a total of $19 billion to settle the criminal and civil cases involving its diesel emissions cheating scheme to hide its violations of federal fuel economy standards. Nevada is slated to receive $24.8 million from the Volkswagen Settlement over the next ten years, and Governor Brian Sandoval must choose how to invest this money in a way that results in lower emissions overall.

Chispa Nevada, the Nevada based arm of the League of Conservation Voters’ national Latinx outreach program, has led the Clean Buses Healthy Niños” campaign to get the state to invest its Volkswagen Settlement funds in replacing fleets of older, diesel-powered school buses with zero-emissions electric school buses. Chispa has argued that removing a key source of dangerous pollutants is the smartest way to utilize the settlement funds and improve communities’ health.

“The ‘Clean Buses Healthy Niños campaign is a commonsense solution to help Nevada’s kids as they ride the bus to school.”
– Andy Maggi, Nevada Conservation League

Chispa Nevada and community partners are about to deliver 4,000 signed petitions from Nevada parents urging Governor Brian Sandoval to invest the state's $24.8 million in Volkwagen Settlement funds in replacing older diesel-powered school buses with new zero-emissions electric school buses.

Posted by Nevada Forward on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Just before they delivered the petitions, Chispa and its community partners held a press conference in Las Vegas to explain why Nevada must upgrade its school buses. For Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Andy Maggi, it’s the best solution to help the most people. “The air quality in Nevada has been routinely ranked poor. The Clean Buses Healthy Niños campaign is a commonsense solution to help Nevada’s kids as they ride the bus to school.”

Photo by Andrew Davey

Battle Born Progress Deputy Director Maria-Teresa Liebermann agreed. Liebermann recounted her own childhood, including her daily bus rides to school, as she called upon Sandoval to take action to protect school children. “Put the health of our community and our children first. Governor Sandoval, please listen to more than 4,000 Nevadans asking for clean rides for healthy niños.”

“We want to make sure that students are not being harmed by the diesel exhausts these buses are putting out.”
– Rudy Zamora, Chispa Nevada

Chispa Nevada and community partners are delivering 4,000 signed petitions to Governor Brian Sandoval's Las Vegas office in support of investing the state's Volkswagen Settlement money in zero-emissions school buses.

Posted by Nevada Forward on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Less than two hours later, the Chispa crew arrived at Governor Sandoval’s Las Vegas office to drop the petition signatures. Staff politely accepted the petitions, but declined to elaborate on Sandoval’s decision-making process on the Volkswagen Settlement funds.

Photo by Andrew Davey

Following the petition delivery, Chispa Nevada Director Rudy Zamora spoke with us about why “We have about 181,000 students who are using the school bus in the 17 school districts throughout Nevada. […] We want to make sure that students are not being harmed by the diesel exhausts these buses are putting out.”

Zamora then pointed out how new school buses also help those who aren’t riding on board. “Changing these buses from diesel to electric will help these communities by reducing our carbon footprint that we’re releasing into our atmosphere,” Zamora said. “Not only are we helping the kids who are riding these school buses, but these buses are driving through our neighborhoods. Even if our children aren’t riding the bus, they’re inhaling the exhaust that we’re getting from these buses.”

It’s ultimately Sandoval’s choice

In order to start delivering cleaner school buses for students, Chispa must first convince Governor Sandoval to select their plan over the other proposals currently being considered for the Volkswagen Settlement. Among those are electric commuter buses, electric delivery trucks, and electric vehicle charging stations along highways.

Sandoval has already announced Nevada’s partnership with Utah and Colorado to create “charging corridors” along the I-15 and I-80 Freeways, though he hasn’t yet signaled whether he will direct some or all of the state’s Volkswagen Settlement funds to this program. The state’s advisory committee has included electric school buses in its list of potential investments, but the final decision still rests with Sandoval.

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