Advocates: It’s time for federal iInvestment in clean transportation
Virginia public officials and environmental health advocates are urging the state’s elected leaders in Washington to support federal investments in clean transportation infrastructure.
A Thursday press conference to discuss the issue was hosted by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Moms Clean Air Force, and Mothers Out Front. It is part of a series of events occurring across the country as the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress consider broad infrastructure proposals and investments in clean transportation.
“When it comes to the disastrous impacts of climate change, Virginia Beach is one of the most at-risk communities in the nation,” said Del. Nancy Guy, Virginia House of Delegates District 83. “That’s why we’ve fought to lead the way on electric buses, and why we need Washington to help us commit to a bold expansion of electric buses in school districts and municipalities across the Commonwealth.”
Speakers praised Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) to continue supporting clean energy growth and the expansion of the market for clean vehicles and buses in order to improve public health and create economic opportunity for all Virginians. Modernizing our transportation sector and investing in clean vehicle technologies are critical to combating climate change, which makes extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts, floods, and hurricanes more frequent and intense.
“Virginia has moved from the bottom of the pack to become a national leader on clean energy, thanks to the Virginia Clean Economy Act,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellan, who was the chief sponsor of the landmark Virginia Clean Economy Act that passed in 2020. “The climate crisis is an existential threat to the health and safety of Virginia families, and we must come together to take immediate action. Now is the time for urgent federal action on investing in clean energy, increasing electric vehicles and addressing environmental justice. Climate action can save consumers money, create new jobs and protect Virginians from the damaging impacts of climate change.”
Investments in clean transportation and electric buses and vehicles are essential to meeting our nation’s climate goals, reducing air pollution, improving public health, achieving environmental justice, and spurring the economy.
Hampton Roads Transit is already operating electric buses that displace 230,000 pounds of carbon pollution per year and reduce energy costs by 75 percent for each diesel bus replaced.
“Our children deserve better than starting their school day with a breath full of diesel pollution,” said Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. “Here in Virginia, we know that electric buses are our future, and we have the opportunity to see this through in a big way as we work to ‘Build Back Better,’ making key investments that cut pollution, expand electric vehicles, address the climate crisis in an equitable way, and secure a better future for our kids and grandkids.”
Meaningful federal investments can spur the advancement of such programs that lead to cleaner air, reduced fuel costs, and more family-sustaining for our communities. They also encourage private investment to develop electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them.
“As the market leader in electric school buses, Blue Bird is fully committed to ensuring that the federal infrastructure legislation includes the funding needed to support access for school districts across the country,” said Albert Burleigh, executive director, EV sales, Blue Bird Corporation. “It is imperative that our nation’s children ride to schools in not just the safest buses in the world but also the cleanest.”
Recent polling found that these investments are popular in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. 86 percent of voters in the Second Congressional District support investments to rebuild roads and bridges and modernize public transportation to ensure it is cleaner and able to serve more people. 74 percent also support transitioning to clean energy and technologies, including reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector.
“Electric buses clean up the air for our kids and communities,” said Julie Kimmel, project manager for Moms Clean Air Force Virginia. “As the parent of a six-year-old daughter, I’m calling on Congress to pass bold climate legislation with meaningful investments in electrifying our school bus, transit, and trucking fleets—to protect the health and future for my daughter and her peers.”