Two volunteers for the group Mothers Out Front used the public comment portion of the February 13 Tarrytown School Board meeting to urge the Board to commit to a plan that would phase out diesel-powered school buses in favor of zero emission electric buses. Thirteen other Mothers Out Front members were there to show support.
Arline Segal, a resident of Sleepy Hollow whose two grown sons were K-12 Tarrytown students, spoke about the deleterious health and environmental impacts of diesel buses. Switching to electric, she contended, can reduce a vehicle’s emissions by 70%, as electric buses produce no exhaust. Currently, students are exposed to high levels of particulate matter emitted from diesel exhaust, which contains 40 chemicals classified as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act. These pollutants are linked to decreased lung function, respiratory illness, cancer, and poor school performance.
Another Sleepy Hollow resident, Sarah Smiley, who has two children just starting out in the district, addressed funding for the transition. While the upfront cost of an electric school bus is higher than for diesel, she said, the district would see savings over the life of the bus through reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Moreover, NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, offers significant rebates that would help offset the upfront cost of the first buses bought by the school. Smiley also suggested that the district partner with a utility company to create a Pay As You Save finance model. In this scenario, the utility would pay for the cost of the bus batteries and charging stations for which the district would pay the utility a monthly fee that would be less than the cost of diesel fuel.
Mothers Out Front is partnering with Clean Energy Works, a non-profit that can conduct a financial analysis of this model, which could be a sustainable funding mechanism for the entire fleet. They hope to demonstrate demand from multiple school districts to persuade Con Edison to participate.
Residents who favor a transition to electric school buses are urged to email the school board at email@example.com.
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Mothers Out Front is a national movement working to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. www.mothersoutfront.org.
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