Las Vegas Sun

December 14, 2018

Currently: 53° — Complete forecast

Group wants emissions settlement to pay for clean-energy school buses

A Nevada trust fund whose money was born from an automaker’s cheating on emissions tests should be used to buy clean-energy school buses, a local political advocacy group said today.

Chispa Nevada, a UNLV-based division of the Washington, D.C.-based League of Conservation Voters, says the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign would use $24.8 million from the state’s Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust for clean-energy, zero-emission school buses.

The campaign, launched today, would allocate funds — set to be distributed in chunks from the German-based automaker to the Silver State from this year to 2027 — to replace diesel school buses that the group says pollute the air and contribute to climate change.

The Las Vegas Valley is ranked among the 15 worst metropolitan areas for air pollution in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report.

Rudy Zamora, Chispa Nevada program director, said the program is one of multiple initiatives launched nationwide by the League of Conservation Voters that would allocate Volkswagen settlement funds to purchase buses powered by electricity and hydrogen fuel cells.

Zamora said Chispa Nevada has reached out to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office for support with the campaign but hasn’t received a response.

Sandoval spokeswoman Mari St. Martin said the office was not aware of the campaign and did not respond to a request for comment.

Guillermo Lifoifoi, a spokesman for the Clark County School District, said CCSD uses at least six school buses powered by propane. He didn't know what other clean energy vehicles were in the school district's fleet.

“This is an opportunity to protect our environment and Nevada students while also helping schools, too.” Zamora said.