Among other pressing topics within school systems, decreasing diesel fuel usage is now on the list.

The American Lung Association (ALA) and Mothers & Others For Clean Air met to discuss health and education and how moving from diesel fuel to electric school buses will improve that for students. 

The panelists of this meeting included Georgia State Representative Teri Anulewicz and Senior Transportation Policy Advisor under Sen. Raphael Warnock Mara Stark-Alcala. Along with leaders and advocates with Mothers & Others For Clean Air and other organizations, the roundtable discussion addressed the idea and process of implementing zero-emission busses. 

“This is significant for not only our health, of our children riding the buses but also for decarbonizing the entire U.S. transportation sector,” Electrification Coalition’s Senior EV Policy Manager Anne Blair said.

Blair continued to speak on the health and economical benefits behind making the switch to zero-emission buses. Blair said that with a switch, the carbon footprint through public transportation could decrease by 35%. 

Other health experts spoke on the effects air pollution has on children’s developing bodies. Issues such as emphysema and stunted lung growth are concerns for children who depend on the busses to get them to and from school. 

ALA’s Senior Director of Advocacy June Deen spoke on the ability to make the switch based on the ALA’s State of the Air report and its findings stating that clean air improvement has taken place since the passing of the Clean Air act. Atlanta alone has made improvements from being one of the worst cities to have particle pollution to now being on the list for actively making the air cleaner. 

From the office of Senator Raphael Warnock, Stark-Alcala shared her insight on the interest of zero-emission busses and wanting equal access for these busses. The office is looking to secure the amount of funding necessary to ensure that people of color and people in disadvantaged communities can also benefit from zero-emission busses and cleaner air in their communities. They also want to ensure resources like charging stations are accessible for everyone, as well. 

The hope of this discussion is to start acting on the plans that have been set and work towards cleaner air for not only school-aged children but for everyone.

Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, Friday, July 10, 2020, in Zelienople, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)