Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund
For Immediate Release: March 27, 2018
Contact: Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director, Florida Conservation Voters, firstname.lastname@example.org, 850-443-7609 or Karina Castillo, Florida Field Consultant, Moms Clean Air Force, 305-586-6354, email@example.com
Tallahassee, FL (March 27, 2018) – Today Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund announced the start of the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign. The campaign’s mission is to influence how the Florida Department of Environmental Protection uses funds distributed to the state from the Volkswagen carbon emissions settlement. FCVEF is calling on Governor Rick Scott to spend the expected $166 million in funds coming to Florida on upgrading diesel-fueled school buses to electric.
“Children should not have to breathe dirty, toxic air on their way to school,” said Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director, Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund. “The VW settlement is the perfect opportunity for Governor Scott to right a wrong by investing the health of Florida’s youngest and most-vulnerable population.”
In Florida, 1 in 11 children suffer from asthma. Diesel buses expose 2.7 million children to toxins and known carcinogens every school day. Upgrading school buses to run on clean energy will help protect our most vulnerable population from air pollution.
Volkswagen cheated U.S. federal emissions tests by installing special software called a “defeat device” into several of its vehicles that would activate when a car was undergoing an emissions test. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency caught the company in their deceit in 2015. The VW settlement is the result of a lawsuit against the German company.
“In Florida, of the nearly 19,000 school buses in the state inventory, almost 18,500 of them are diesel powered. School buses that use diesel fuel expose school children to tiny particles of pollution that can lodge deep in the lungs, cause cancer, and trigger asthma attacks,” said Karina Castillo, Florida Field Consultant, Moms Clean Air Force. “With 1 out of 11 children suffering from asthma in Florida, it is imperative that we urge our state to direct money from the VW settlement fund to transition our school buses from diesel to electric. As parents and community members, we should be declaring freedom from dirty diesel polluting school buses.”
Mental health and student safety take up a large part of the 2018-2019 Florida education budget. This leaves only a $0.47 per-student increase for normal operating expenses. Using the VW settlement funds to offset the costs of new buses could help ailing school districts increase this amount.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is holding a series of informational meetings regarding the Volkswagen Settlement and has opened up an online survey for the public. This survey can be found at https://floridadep.gov/air/air-director/content/volkswagen-settlement-florida-mitigation-fund#SURVEY