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VW Settlement Could Help CT Schools Buy Cleaner Buses

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017   

HARTFORD, Conn. – Environmentalists want Connecticut to use some of the money from the Volkswagen settlement to help children in low-income communities affected by air pollution.

The state will be getting almost $51 million from the car maker's $20 billion settlement for deliberately cheating on U.S. emissions testing of its diesel cars.

Advocates say investing a portion of that money in cleaner-running school buses could help low-income urban communities that are most affected by poor air quality.

According to Wildaliz Bermudez, program director at Chispa, a project of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, about 85 percent of students in the state ride buses to get to public school.

"We have the data in Connecticut that states that children who ride the school bus, many of them, experience disproportionate rates of air pollution, and then their asthma gets triggered," she explained.

Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has drafted an initial mitigation plan and is seeking proposals for how the money should be spent.

The settlement money is expected to arrive sometime this fall. Bermudez stresses that to find out if they will be eligible to apply for funds, school boards and municipalities need to start assembling data on their current school buses now.

"We want to make sure that their fleet is up to date and has lower emissions so that our kids can reap the benefits of breathing cleaner air," she added.

The Clean Bus campaign was announced last week as part of the state's Commission on Equity and Opportunity Policy Day. More information is online at conservationeducation.org.


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