Nevada Clean Buses Fact Sheet

Dirty diesel school buses emit dangerous pollutants that kids breathe into their developing lungs, causing respiratory illnesses, aggravating asthma and exposing youth to cancer-causing pollutants. That’s why the League of Conservation Voters’ (LCV) Chispa Nevada program is calling on Governor Brian Sandoval and decision makers to put the health of Nevada’s youth and communities first by using the state’s $24.8 million Volkswagen (VW) settlement to fund clean energy, zero-emission school buses.

Nevada is home to some of the worst air pollution in the country. Since 2013, the city of Las Vegas has consistently ranked among the most polluted cities in our nation.

Across the country, approximately 25 million children take school buses, and are exposed to diesel exhaust, which can negatively impact their health. In Nevada, there are approximately 181,000 kids who ride school buses to over 17 school districts, which serve more than 473,000, over half of whom are Latino or black. With so many children exposed to pollution, it’s no coincidence that more than 1 in 12 kids suffer from asthma. Our children have the right to breathe clean air, and polluting buses shouldn’t endanger them in their pursuit to acquire an education.

What causes unhealthy air?

Diesel vehicles, including school buses, emit large amounts of nitrogen oxide into our atmosphere. This pollution can cause respiratory problems including asthma attacks, which are the leading chronic illness and the number one cause of school absences for children and adolescence.

How is Chispa taking action?

LCV’s Chispa program launched its Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign here in Nevada. We need zero-emission buses for the 31.8 million miles of school bus routes that crisscross our communities. The children and adults in our communities carry the horrible burden of the pollution that these buses emit. We’re organizing with our communities to build the political power necessary to ensure that clean bus fleets become a reality. Together, we can take a stand to let Governor Sandoval know that we won’t wait for cleaner air. It’s time for #CleanRide4Kids now.

In Nevada, LCV’s Chispa is focusing its fight for cleaner school buses in the largest school district in the state—the Clark County School district. This district has the highest proportion of children who are at-risk for respiratory illnesses, and they are exposed to the greatest amount of pollution in the state.

What is the VW settlement for and how much money is available in my state?

The VW settlement allots $2.7 billion for the Environmental Mitigation Fund. This mitigation trust is specifically for states to implement projects that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, and replace diesel with cleaner technologies. From the settlement, Nevada anticipates receiving $24.8 million.

Why the VW settlement? Well, VW cheated federal emissions tests, and polluted the air we breathe with toxins emitted by diesel vehicles that increases respiratory illnesses and furthers the effects of climate change.

LCV’s Chispa Nevada believes these funds should be re-invested in initiatives that stand to enhance the air quality of local communities and school districts, especially in low-income and communities of color where students and families are most at risk of breathing dirty air, and are disproportionately suffering from pollution.

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) was selected to manage and develop a beneficiary mitigation plan and distribute the funds. On March 27, 2017, Nevada proposed a bill, A.B. 416, to use the settlement to replace diesel school buses with zero-emission buses.

What’s the impact of switching from a diesel bus to zero-emission bus?

Clean buses mean cleaner air and healthier niños and communities. While zero-emissions buses may cost more up front, they cost 30 percent less to maintain than their diesel counterparts, and they reduce greenhouse emissions by almost 80 percent. Nitrogen oxide emissions from buses are particularly dangerous because they increase ozone pollution, and have detrimental impacts on our health, especially for children. Every diesel bus replaced with a zero-emission bus is equivalent to taking 27 cars off the road, and can save upwards of $11,000 per year in fuel and maintenance costs.

How can I get involved?

First and foremost, sign the petition to Governor Sandoval, and call his office by texting BUSES to 877-877. LCV’s Chispa Nevada staff is working with volunteers and promotores to fight for clean buses for healthy niños. We will get in touch and share ways for you to get involved. For more information contact Chispa Nevada Director, Rudy Zamora at Rudy_Zamora@lcv.org.