Posts Tagged ‘school buses’

Texas Director Adrian Shelley speaking at a VW Settlement community engagement meeting in Fort Worth.

Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal led to a $14.7 billion dollar settlement. Basically, what Volkswagen did was install what are called “defeat devices” which were programmed to run differently during emissions tests so that they appeared to be much less polluting than they actually are. In some cases, NOx (nitrogen oxides), which is not only harmful but is also a precursor to ground-level ozone, was up to 40 times higher than what the cheating emissions tests revealed!

By cheating on emissions tests, Volkswagen harmed public health, causing at least 59 premature deaths and over $450 million in health and social costs (Barrett, 2015). The settlement provides Volkswagen with a chance to compensate owners of vehicles impacted by the defeat devices, mitigate some of the harm done, and reduce future harm using zero emissions technology.

Details of the Settlement

The Volkswagen Settlement is essentially divided into three parts: a personal vehicle buyback program, an environmental mitigation program to reduce the harm done, and a zero emissions vehicle investment commitment to prevent more harm and promote zero emissions technology.

More information on the personal vehicle buyback program can be found at VW’s settlement website http://www.VWCourtSettlement.com. If you have an eligible vehicle, you may also be eligible for additional funds through the Bosch VW Settlement (https://www.boschvwsettlement.com/en/Home/FAQ).

The Environmental Mitigation Trust will be administered at the state level and will fund projects to upgrade and replace dirty diesel engines. Texas will receive $209 million dollars. Once a beneficiary is designated, projects will be determined. We are collecting feedback on these projects, discussed below.

The third fund is the Zero Emissions Vehicle Investment Commitment, also known as Electrify America. VW will be allocating $2 billion dollars toward zero emissions infrastructure and educational campaigns to promote their use. The City of Houston is among the first round of cities to be supported by this fund.

Community Engagement

Public Citizen, alongside Houston coalition partners Coalition of Community Organizations, t.e.j.a.s., and Air Alliance Houston hosted informational meetings regarding the Volkswagen Settlement at Austin High School in Houston and at the Houston Area Research Center in the Woodlands in May and June. Given that both the Houston area and the Dallas-Fort Worth area are in non-attainment for ozone and that this settlement could help improve air quality in both regions, we hosted additional informational meetings last week in Dallas and Fort Worth with our co-sponsors Tarrant Coalition for Environmental Awareness Group, Liveable Arlington, and Arlington Conservation Council, Fort Worth Sierra Club Group and the Dallas Sierra Club Group.

While some other states have had a formal community engagement process, an agency of the State of Texas has yet to hold public meetings regarding the settlement. That’s where Public Citizen and other organizations have stepped in to gather important feedback from community members in regards to what sorts of projects hold the most interest. These projects are limited to those that reduce NOx emissions through engine upgrades or replacements, such as replacing old freight trucks, school buses, dump trucks, etc. A portion of the funds will be available for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

If your group, city, or region is interested in learning more about the Volkswagen Settlement, please contact Stephanie Thomas at [email protected] to learn about upcoming community meetings.

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Do you like clean air?

Do you like clean air for KIDS?

Seems like the rest of the state does, too.  According to TCEQ, a program to retrofit school buses around the state has been able to retrofit 2300 buses statewide. Even more amazing was the demand for the program exceeding its allotment by 40%, meaning for every 3 school buses we wanted to fix, we could only fix 2.   However, that means that for tens of thousands of kids, they are now riding in much better buses, and those school districts who gut put on the waiting list just have to wait for more money from the Legislature to get their buses clean, too.


A demonstration of how much pollution is prevented on a school bus

Local ISDs, schools, parents, and kids love this program because of how much it reduces toxic air pollution from our buses, and does so without taking money out of the classroom.  Local businesses and residents should love it because it is making their communities cleaner.  This is a win for air quality, a win for school districts, and most importantly, a win for children’s health.

More video, a press release, and gory details after the break: (more…)

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When I think of cliché images from grade school, I think of two things—apples and big, yellow school buses. Apples aside, school buses are a typical part of the grade school experience. Unfortunately, school buses are also some of the oldest and most polluting vehicles on the roads today.

School buses emit toxic soot, which can lead to asthma, bronchitis, headaches—and over time—cancer, heart disease and premature death for those exposed to diesel pollution. Children are among those most at risk of the hazards of diesel exhaust. While thousands of kids ride school buses every day in the state of Texas, nearly 90% of Texas’ 37,000 school buses emit unhealthy toxins into the bus cabin. In fact, these air toxins are up to four times higher inside the bus cabin than pollution levels outside the school bus.

Luckily, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) received $8.8 million from the EPA to provide grants to Texas’ school districts. These districts can use this money to purchase anti-pollution equipment, such as particulate filters, to reduce the level of toxic emissions released from the buses.

Check out this video where the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) tests the tail pipes of a retrofitted bus with a conventional bus. The retrofitted bus has a diesel particulate filter (DPF) which reduces diesel soot by as much as 90%.


-Cyndi Goodson, Intern

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