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Groups Rally Support for NY Plan to Electrify School Buses

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Friday, January 14, 2022   

In her 2022 State of the State address, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul set new goals for electrifying the school bus fleets in the state.

Clean-energy advocates are hailing the move as a win for climate action. The governor has proposed new school bus purchases be zero-emission vehicles by 2027, and all school buses be emission-free by 2035.

Deb Peck Kelleher, policy director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, suggested in inner cities, the high asthma rate may be caused or exacerbated by diesel emissions. She thinks a move to electrify school buses will help the problem.

"As we start to electrify, not only will we see climate emissions go down, but we'll see air pollution go down," Peck Kelleher explained. "And there should be a dramatic impact on our residents' health because of that."

She noted more EV charging infrastructure will need to be built at schools. A report on electrifying New York City school buses found the biggest barrier to their widespread deployment has been the up-front purchase price.

Peck Kelleher countered the overall operating cost of electric vehicles is more affordable than diesel-powered vehicles.

There are more than 50,000 school buses operating in New York state. And while her group would like to see every school district make the switch to electric, Peck Kelleher argued the initial focus should be on places where air pollution is worst.

"Those areas with a high pollution level, I believe, should be switched over first," Peck Kelleher urged. "Those benefits of cleaner air, especially around our schools, would only double the benefits in our urban areas."

New York City has some of the highest air pollution in the state, and last April, former Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to making its school bus fleets electric by 2040.

Disclosure: Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Inc. contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, and the Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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