Las Vegas, NV – Van Jones, Green For All and Chispa Nevada rallied alongside more than 100 community members today to demand Governor Sandoval invest the state’s VW settlement dollars into electric school buses to replace diesel-fueled buses, which are exposing kids to dirty air and cancer-causing pollutants.
Clark County School District families and clean energy advocates from across the state also joined in the event, detailing how electric buses could mitigate respiratory illnesses among youth and save the school district at least $11,000 per electric bus each year.
Julia Aguirre, mother to a Clark County School student who suffers from asthma, made a public plea for Governor Sandoval to put her son, and youth like him, first by using the available monies for #cleanride4kids.
“My son was diagnosed with asthma when he was three years old, and suffered with breathing problems for years,” said Aguirre, who addressed the crowd in Spanish. “I did everything I could to protect him and help him, but it wasn’t until I stopped having him take the bus that he started getting better. Now it’s been two years since his last asthma attack, and even the doctor says his lungs have improved 80 percent. Because of this, I say to Governor Sandoval: we are in your hands. Please help us improve the quality of life of our children.”
“Most school children today are forced to ride dirty diesel buses that spew toxic fumes and particulates into their lungs and communities. Over time, this has a tremendous impact on their breathing, mental focus, and general health. No matter who you voted for, we should all be able to agree that our kids deserve better,” said Van Jones, co-founder of Green For All, a climate justice initiative of The Dream Corps that is building a green economy to lift people out of poverty. “Every child who rides a bus to school or to any other activity should be able to ride a bus that is as clean as it is safe. Governors across the country now have an opportunity – because of the VW settlement – to invest millions of dollars into clean transportation. I urge Nevada Governor Sandoval and governors across the country to put these funds to use to bring clean transportation to communities most impacted by air pollution today. Why not start with clean energy zero-emission school buses?”
The rally was part of the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, which calls on Governor Sandoval to use Nevada’s $24.8 million share of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to replace the state’s fleet of diesel-powered school buses across the state, especially those in low income and communities of color where students and families are most at risk for suffering the effects of pollution. Volkswagen was forced to establish the Trust after admitting its vehicles cheated federal emission tests for years, polluting the air in Nevada and across the nation.
“The health of over 181,000 children here in Nevada is at risk simply because they ride dirty diesel buses – we’re ready for Governor Sandoval to take a stand,” said Rudy Zamora, director of Chispa Nevada, a community organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters. “The children and people living in the communities where polluting buses travel have been breathing filthy air for far too long and it’s time for our governor to act. Today we rally for justice locally and for the 25 million children across the country who are exposed to cancer-causing pollutants riding diesel buses in pursuit of an education.”
More than 1 in 12 children suffer from asthma according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading to frequent school absences and long-term health complications. Las Vegas, home to Clark County, has been repeatedly named as one of the most polluted cities in the United States by the American Lung Association in its State of the Air reports.
“Protecting our kids from harm today means more than making sure they don’t run off with strangers or break a leg from playing too rough. It also means fighting to protect the very air they breathe,” said Vien Truong, CEO of Dream Corps and Director of Green For All. “Frontline families are already fighting Trump’s climate denying policies at the federal level. I stand with moms and parents across America to say enough is enough. Investing VW dollars in clean energy zero-emission buses will provide much-needed relief to families dealing with the worst effects of dirty diesel pollution. We stand with Chispa Nevada to demand that Governor Sandoval, and governors across the country, use their power to build a better future for our kids.”
“All of our children deserve to breathe clean air, and the thought of any children breathing harmful diesel fumes from school buses really hits home for me,” said Caitlin Hipler, mother of two and leader of Moms Clean Air Force. “One of my children had difficulty breathing from birth and we are very lucky to have him with us today. Even though he made it through his first five years, he still struggles with asthma. When children are stepping on to school buses, we should not have to worry about them breathing in diesel fumes and toxic emissions. That is why I am here to support Chispa Nevada’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, and Moms Clean Air Force joins them in calling on Governor Sandoval and Nevada legislators and decision makers to put the health of Nevada’s youth and its communities first.”
Chispa Nevada is a community organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters. Chispa builds the capacity of Latinos and families to influence policy makers and pressure polluters to protect communities’ rights to clean air and water, healthy neighborhoods, and a safe climate for generations to come.
Green For All builds a green economy for all. We advance solutions that prioritize families and workers living on the frontlines of some of the worst pollution in America.