RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday at a United States Climate Alliance event for Climate Week NYC that Virginia will dedicate $20 million for an electric school bus initiative. The program will allocate funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust (VEMT), which the commonwealth received as a part of a $93.6 million settlement with Volkswagen over violations of the Clean Air Act.
Schools will be able to apply for reimbursement from the state when they replace their aging diesel buses with electric ones. The program will deploy 75 all-electric school buses, which are estimated to have a lifetime savings of 36 million pounds of greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions. Northam has already allocated $28 million from the settlement to fund electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electric mass transit development in Virginia.
Elly Boehmer, state director of Environment Virginia, released the following statement:
“Children across Virginia are the big winners today. We talk often about the ‘future generations’ that will be affected by climate change. But those future generations are already boarding pollution belching buses across the commonwealth five days a week, nine months out of the year. We’re thrilled that, for more and more kids, those vehicles will soon not only protect them on the ride to and from school, but will also play a part in safeguarding the climate and the world they are bound to inherit.
“Gov. Northam’s announcement is an important step for Virginia in tackling transportation emissions. Virginia is already seeing the consequences of global warming and rising sea levels, and transportation accounts for nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the commonwealth.
“With money from the Volkswagen settlement, we are perfectly positioned to fund these projects that will cut carbon pollution by electrifying our cars, trucks and buses. Considering the damage done by diesel emissions in the VW scandal, it is important and fitting this money is going to fund replacing dirty diesel school buses, which have a dangerous impact on the climate and public health.
“Electric school bus initiatives like this one, and Dominion’s recently announced program, will help reduce pollution that is harming public health and contributing excessively to global warming. This is an important step in Virginia’s transition to zero carbon transportation. But with 3,500 school buses in Virginia this must only be the beginning.”
Environment Virginia is a statewide, citizen based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water and open space.