For Maryland School Kids, Electric Buses = Clean Air

CHISPA students standing for a group photo holding a CHISPA banner and a Clean Buses For Healthy NinosDirty 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 Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ (MDLCV) Chispa Maryland program is calling on school boards and elected officials to put the health of Maryland’s youth and communities first by transitioning the state’s school bus fleet to clean, zero-emission electric school buses.
Across the country, approximately 25 million children take school buses and are exposed to diesel exhaust which can damage their health.
In Maryland, more than 650,000 kids ride school buses. On the whole, the state’s 24 school districts serve more than 880,000 children, 62% of whom are nonwhite students. And nearly 1 in 10 suffer from asthma.
Our children have the right to breathe clean air. Polluting buses endanger kids as they pursue an education.

What’s so bad about diesel buses?

Diesel emissions are the most harmful type of transportation emissions, typically containing high levels of harmful carbon particles and more than 40 known cancer-causing organic substances. Children that ride diesel school buses are exposed to up to 12 times more air pollution than ambient levels (i.e. levels that are determined to be acceptable under the Clean Air Act). This pollution can cause respiratory problems including asthma attacks, which are the leading chronic illness and a leading cause of school absences for children and adolescents.

Electric school buses also fight back against climate change. Electric buses have significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than both diesel- and natural gas-powered buses. Maryland has more than 7,250 school buses in operation around the state. Each electric school bus prevents 291 metric tons of climate pollution!

How is Maryland LCV’s Chispa taking action?

MDLCV’s Chispa program launched the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign here in Maryland. We need zero-emission buses for the more than 128 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 school boards and elected officials know that we won’t wait for cleaner air. It’s time for #CleanRide4Kids now.

In Maryland, Chispa is focusing its fight for clean school buses statewide and within some of the most diverse school districts in Maryland, including Howard, Prince George’s, and Anne Arundel Counties. We are also promoting key legislation in the 2022 Legislative Session that will provide the opportunity to expand the benefits of electric school buses to every school system in Maryland within the territory of an investor-owned utility.

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

Clean buses mean cleaner air and healthier niños and communities. While zero-emissions buses cost more up front, they cost less to maintain than their diesel counterparts, and they significantly reduce greenhouse emissions. 

Nitrogen oxide emissions from buses are particularly dangerous because they increase ozone pollution and have detrimental impacts on our health, especially for children. Each electric school bus can save school districts up to $7,600 a year in reduced fuel costs and $4,400 a year in reduced maintenance costs, adding up to tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a bus.

How can I get involved?

Maryland LCV’s Chispa staff is working with volunteers and trained community leaders (known as “promotores”) to fight for clean electric buses. We will get in touch and share ways for you to get involved.

For more information contact Chispa Maryland Director, Ramon Palencia-Calvo at rpcalvo@mdlcv.org.