Investment in health
Children's health needs to be a priority. So when talking about higher prices for zero-emission electric school buses, we need to look at zero pollution school buses as an investment in lifelong health, not a cost.
The science shows there is no safe level of tailpipe pollution, for children or adults. One of every 8 children already lives with asthma, and asthma attacks are the No. 1 cause of school absences due to a chronic health condition. Lungs grow until age 20 and then decline with age. Any pollutant exposure that stunts their growth means diminished lung capacity and greater chance of disease later in life.
Limited grant money from a court settlement recently announced by Gov. Pritzker that helps purchase electric buses is good, but once it's gone, it's gone. The long term solution is for the governor to have Illinois join 15 other states already working to adopt tighter tailpipe standards for medium and heavy duty vehicles. That would mean moving toward seeing 30% of new school buses as well as new trucks and delivery vans being electric by 2030.
We just spent a year working to protect children and adults from a deadly respiratory threat. But local diesel exhaust pollution and growing health threats from global warming can't be prevented with a shot. The governor took a great step in the right direction, but he now needs to set Illinois on a long-term clean-vehicle path. Joining the 15 other states and accelerating the transition to electric buses and trucks in Illinois starting now is the leadership we need.
Brian P. Urbaszewski, Director, Environmental Health Programs
Respiratory Health Association