12 Georgia Health and Medical Organizations Urge Sens. Warnock & Ossoff to Include Funding for Zero-Emission School Buses in Senate Budget Reconciliation Bill

As Senate works on details of budget reconciliation bill, letter from local health groups calls for additional investments in zero-emission school buses

Today, 12 health and medical organizations in Georgia delivered a letter to U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff urging both members to build on their previous commitments to transition diesel buses to healthier, zero-emission buses. The letter comes as the Senate plans to reconvene after August recess to work on the budget reconciliation bill.

“Children in Georgia deserve to travel to and from school without being exposed to harmful diesel bus pollution,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “This fall, Congress has a critical opportunity to jumpstart our country’s transition to electric school buses and create a healthier environment for our children. I stand alongside our partners in Georgia in thanking Senators Warnock and Ossoff for their support for kids’ health to-date and urge them to prioritize funding for zero-emission school buses in the budget reconciliation bill.” 

The letter is signed by the following organizations, representing physicians, nurses, health and child advocates and public health professionals:

Allergy & Asthma Network

American Lung Association in Georgia

Childkind

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Georgia State Medical Association, Inc.

GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students

Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action

Georgia Society for Public Health Education

Interfaith Children’s Movement

Mothers & Others for Clean Air

Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units

Voices for Georgia’s Children

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Senators Warnock and Ossoff:

As physicians, nurses, health and child advocates, and public health professionals dedicated to providing Georgia children with a healthy future, we want to thank you for supporting federal infrastructure funding for the transition to zero-emission school buses. As the Senate begins to determine the details of the $3.5T budget framework, we urge you to support additional investments in this critical transportation shift. 

Nationally, more than 480,000 school buses are on the road, carrying millions of children every day. Currently 95% of these buses are diesel-powered. Exposure to diesel exhaust increases one’s risk of a wide range of health outcomes including asthma attacks, premature deaths and cancer.

Children are especially vulnerable to poor air quality, as their brains and respiratory systems are still developing. Diesel exhaust exposure is linked to serious health effects, including asthma attacks and diminished brain function. Children also have higher respiration frequency, multiplying the volume of pollutants they inhale.

One-third of American children take the bus to school. Kids from low-income communities are more likely to depend on school buses, and thus bear more of the burden of pollution from diesel buses. Black and Hispanic communities are exposed to disproportionally high levels of particle pollution and its resulting health effects.

Replacing diesel-powered buses will significantly improve air quality for students nationwide, reducing their exposure to toxic and cancer-causing pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particle pollution.

In addition, there is broad public support for this effort in Georgia. A recent poll administered by Global Strategy Group finds that 75% of voters in Georgia say it’s especially important to invest in zero-emissions vehicles like electric school buses to reduce air pollution around children and 63% support the proposal to invest $20 billion in the transition from diesel-powered vehicles to zero-emission school buses.

Because initial costs are high, many districts stick with polluting, unhealthy diesel buses. By investing $20 billion to electrify school buses, Congress can transition one-fifth of all diesel-powered buses, improving the health of our children and helping to build momentum for electrification.

Please support this important initiative to create a safer, healthier environment for Georgia children. Our young patients deserve better, and they shouldn’t have to breathe harmful diesel exhaust on their way to school.

Sincerely,

Allergy & Asthma Network

American Lung Association in Georgia

Childkind

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Georgia State Medical Association, Inc.

GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students

Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action

Georgia Society for Public Health Education

Interfaith Children’s Movement

Mothers & Others for Clean Air

Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units

Voices for Georgia’s Children

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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