FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2021
VICTORY! MOTHERS OUT FRONT FAIRFAX ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUS BILL PASSES VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE
Fairfax, VA- The moms’ climate group Mothers Out Front (MOF) Fairfax is thrilled that Delegate Mark Keam’s legislation designed to convert school buses in the Commonwealth of Virginia from diesel to electric passed the General Assembly along strong bipartisan votes in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate.
House Bill 2118, which MOF Fairfax developed with Del. Keam, sets up a new grant program to allow school districts to seek funding to help replace their current diesel school buses with electric ones, as well as expenses for infrastructure support. It prioritizes grant requests from areas with high asthma rates and poor air quality so they can benefit first. The fund will be administered by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality after it conducts a stakeholder process to develop the criteria and framework for the new program.
School buses are the largest mass transit system in the nation with approximately 480,000 school buses, compared to about 140,000 public transit buses. Virginia is home to the second largest school bus fleet in the country. Fairfax County alone has 1,625 buses, and more than 1.5 million Virginia kids ride in 17,000 yellow school buses daily.
“Over the past few legislative sessions, my colleagues and I focused on moving Virginia away from a fossil fuel-dependent economy to a clean, renewable future. I was proud to work with MOF to pass HB 2118 which will play a major role in this transformation,” said Delegate Keam, a Democratic lawmaker representing Fairfax County in the House. “An urgent place to start this work is converting diesel school buses to zero-emission electric vehicles, and my bill creates a program to receive and direct state funding for schools that support our children’s health and address climate change.”
The effects of diesel fumes on health and climate are well documented. Diesel school bus fumes contain particulate matter that causes asthma, as well as NOx fumes, which are a known carcinogen. HB2118 gives weight to applicants located in areas that have higher asthma rates and the lowest air quality so that these school districts can benefit first from the improved air quality.
“This bill could not come at a better time. Our kids’ health and future cannot wait another year for conversion of these dirty, polluting school buses,” said Julie Kimmel, co-leader of MOF Fairfax. “Thanks to bill patron Delegate Keam and the General Assembly, not to mention advocates, including our MOF leadership team—Tiziana Bottino, Harriet Church, Katie Henderson, Kathy Keller, Carolina Millon, and Bobby Monacella—our children will no longer have to ride for up to two hours each day breathing diesel fumes that are concentrated up to six times more inside a school bus than outside. This is a win for our kids’ lungs, their brain development, and their future.”
Switching to electric school buses is essential to our effort to combat climate change. Transportation is the largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and accounts for 48% of all emissions in Virginia.
Bobby Monacella, co-leader MOF Fairfax, added, “We’re so thrilled that HB2118 has passed and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. The bill establishes Virginia as a leader in bringing clean buses to our kids. Just as the federal government has announced a huge focus on this issue, Virginia is now ready to attract funding and distribute these buses in an equitable, cost-effective way. We are so thankful to Delegate Keam for his dedication to our children’s health and their future in the face of climate change.”