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Greener school buses play role in fight against climate change, protecting student health | READER COMMENTARY

Students board an electric school bus in Sacramento, California on December 18, 2019. The Twin Rivers School District uses 25 electric school buses built by Lion Electric. (Max Whittaker/The New York Times)
Students board an electric school bus in Sacramento, California on December 18, 2019. The Twin Rivers School District uses 25 electric school buses built by Lion Electric. (Max Whittaker/The New York Times)

In response to the recent editorial, “Upgrade Maryland’s climate action plan” (March 2), I agree that the Maryland General Assembly needs to approve the Climate Solutions Now bill (SB 414/HB 583) now. The article noted the big step Montgomery County has taken to replace old school buses with electric buses. One point not mentioned was the tremendous health benefits of switching diesel buses to electric.

Every school day, more than 650,000 children in Maryland ride to school on one of the state’s approximately 7,200 diesel school buses. A child riding in a diesel school bus may be exposed to as much as four times the level of toxic exhaust as someone riding in a car. These diesel emissions are filled with carcinogens that increase lifetime risk of cancer, incidents of asthma, and heart disease.

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Thankfully, Montgomery County Public Schools is taking action to lease 326 electric school buses as part of a plan to electrify its entire fleet. Another bill in the Maryland General Assembly, the Electric School Bus Pilot Program (HB 832), would extend access to electric school buses to counties across the state. The Electric School Bus Pilot Program would deploy electric school buses with “vehicle-to-grid” technology, allowing them to put their stored energy back into the grid.

Along with the Climate Solutions Now bill, which would require all new state contracts to purchase zero emission public buses after 2023, these bills would protect our children, our communities and our climate. Both bills deserve our support.

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Laurie McGilvray, Takoma Park

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