State Director, Environment New Jersey
State Director, Environment New Jersey
East Brunswick – Advocates, educators and legislative champions gathered at Memorial Elementary School in East Brunswick to support funding in the New Jersey FY24 budget for the NJDEP Electric School Bus Program to jumpstart a program signed into law last summer.
“This generation of kids should be the last generation that gets a toxic daily dose of diesel fumes on the way to school every morning. More than 15 years ago, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot question to clean up dirty diesel school buses. Back then, we didn’t have any other option. Today, states around the country are leading the way to make the transition to electric school buses. Diesel emissions seep into the cabin of existing school buses and into the lungs of our children. It’s time to protect our kids’ health and our air quality by taking the first step to electrification. We thank Sen Diegnan and Asm. Stanley’s leadership and look forward to getting the NJDEP electric school bus program funded and more New Jersey kids on the road to an electric future,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey.
Under legislation Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law last summer, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) will be responsible for implementing a three-year “Electric School Bus Program” to assess the operational reliability and cost effectiveness of replacing diesel-powered school buses with electric school buses for daily transportation of students.
“School buses are known to emit greenhouse gases and carcinogens, both of which contribute to climate change and threaten exposed individuals with elevated lifetime risks of developing cancer, asthma, and heart disease,” said Senator Patrick Diegnan (D-18), Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “The electric school bus program’s implementation will provide students with a healthier and more environmentally friendly mode of transportation.” As a state, we have goals to significantly lower our carbon emissions and become a greener place to live. Transitioning from the conventional diesel-fueled buses to those with zero emissions will significantly decrease our state’s pollution levels.”
Funding through supplemental legislation and a budget resolution would provide the NJDEP with at least the $15 million it needs to commence the Electric School Bus Program. The legislation (A4716) will be heard tomorrow morning in the Assembly Transportation Committee; the legislation already passed the State Senate last November.
“I consider it an honor to join with my colleague Senator Diegnan and such incredible advocates such as Environment NJ, the League of Conservation Voters, The Sierra Club, and others as we peek into the future of school transportation. The electric buses that we are experiencing today are yet another step towards a future free from the immense weight of fossil fuel consumption and the threats posed by climate change. I want to thank and applaud all the stakeholders that made this event possible, and I look forward to bearing witness to all of the incredible things we will continue to accomplish together,” said Assemblyman Sterley S. Stanley (LD-18).
Environment New Jersey also released an electric school bus research report, “Get On the Bus: A Comparative Analysis of Leading States’ Electric School Bus Policies,” examining the policies of electric school bus-leading states and drawing out lessons for New Jersey’s adoption of electric school buses.
“I want to thank Governor Murphy, Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Stanley for their support of the “Electric School Bus Program.” East Brunswick Public Schools has been preparing for the electrification of its bus fleet since 2015 when the Board of Education visited the University of Delaware’s campus to see their vehicle electrification research first-hand,” said East Brunswick Superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski. “Our Board of Education prudently supported the installation of electric charging infrastructure in the construction of our Support Operations Facility, where our buses are parked. This move positions East Brunswick Public Schools for the future of daily student transportation, contributing to a greener and cleaner environment for East Brunswick Township.”
“Investing in electric school buses is imperative in a state like ours, small but highly developed and trafficked by major interstate roads. Not only 34% of our greenhouse gasses in New Jersey come from our transportation sector, it also significantly contributes to both localized and regional pollution like NOx, ground level ozone, diesel particulate matter and black carbon. To add to this, children are among the most vulnerable to health impacts from air pollution caused by diesel emissions,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, NJ Director of the Sierra Club. “We thank Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Stanley for their leadership in the enactment of this law and for their work in funding it. The economic and environmental benefits of using electric buses far outweigh using diesel buses. We will save money and reduce pollution. More importantly, our children will be able to breathe easier.”
“Implementing an electric school bus pilot program in East Brunswick is not just a step towards cleaner and greener transportation, but also a commitment to our children’s health and future. By embracing this initiative, we provide them with a safer and healthier environment, reducing harmful emissions and improving air quality. We are investing in their well-being and embracing the power of innovation, which will pave the way for a sustainable and brighter future,” said Bill Neary, President, Keep Middlesex Moving.
“We applaud the electric school bus pilot program and all the hard work of our legislative partners and advocates to get these buses on the roads. We know diesel-burning fleets contribute significantly to localized air pollution, especially for those most vulnerable among us – our students,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey LCV. “This has been a partnership at multiple levels of government, and we thank Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Stanley for their dedication to making sure we can transition to electric school bus fleets as soon as possible.”
“We are happy to see that Sen. Diegnan and Asm. Stanley are leading the way to ensuring that electric school buses are part of their legislative priorities, putting in place pilot programs that provide significant grant funding for school districts that want to be first movers in buying electric school buses. Right now, grant funding is the primary way to address cost barriers to electric school buses, but we look forward to working with Sen. Diegnan and Asm. Stanley to put in place long-term legislative solutions for school districts to fund and procure electric buses, including attracting private sector funding to ensure that every child in this state is riding on a clean and safe electric school bus,” said Eve Gabel-Frank, Senior Associate, ChargEVC.
“As a mother of two children who took a ride on dirty diesel buses every day of their 12 school-age years, I was thankful that their trip was a short one – not everyone is so lucky, especially in NJ’s rural areas,” said Amy Goldsmith, NJ State Director, Clean Water Action. “Electric school buses are not magic. They’re a great investment in our children’s health, climate mitigation, lowering bus maintenance costs, as well as the possibility of mobile battery power during outages. We are thankful the legislative sponsors of A4716/S3044 have set a course towards going electric. A perfect end-of-school field trip would be funding this program.”
“Breathing in diesel exhaust is harmful to public health. Transitioning to electric school buses is not only good for public health, but also the environment and can save money in the long term. We need to invest in our future and speed up the transition to electric school buses,” said Debra Coyle, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council.
“NJ Clean Cities is honored to support school districts and contractors in New Jersey on their journey to clean vehicles. The monumental funding from the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program is a great opportunity for New Jersey school bus fleets to incorporate electric buses into their operations. Leveraging EPA’s funding with the variety of programs available through the state makes the timing for these projects important now more than ever. Through public private partnerships, our coalition has helped NJ stakeholders reduce petroleum fuel consumption and emissions. We are thankful to Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Stanley for their support with this legislation to demonstrate the economic and environmental value of electric school buses,” said Caroline McCallum, with NJ Clean Cities Coalition.
“In a state in which 9% of both adults and children suffer from asthma, and where climate change is responsible for rising floods, it is good to see the legislature responding to this crisis by supporting electric school buses. While this funding will only go a short way towards replacing all 10,000 school buses in the state, tracking the performance of these buses, as Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Stanley made a requirement of the grants, will give us needed data on how we can rapidly scale up the purchase of electric school buses in an efficient and economical way,” said Bill Beren, Transportation Chair, NJ Sierra Club.