2019-01-02 / Features

School Bus Bill Proposes Switch From Diesel To Electric

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

There are about 480,000 school buses in the US and about 95% of them run on diesel fuel, according to a report by the Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. Before the school holiday winter recess, the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection, chaired by Council Member Costa Constantinides, heard a proposed law to replace all of the city’s school buses with electric buses.

“We’re discussing a bill to make our school bus fleet much cleaner by replacing them with electric ones,” Constantinides said via Twitter on December 11.

The bill, Intro. 0455-2018, seeks to place age limitations on school buses and replace them all with electric buses beginning September 1, 2020. Environmental Protection Committee Members Rafael Espinal, Jr., Stephen Levin, Carlos Menchaca, Donovan Richards, Erich Ulrich, and Kalman Yeger, along with the bill’s primary sponsor, Council Member Daniel Dromm, were present at the hearing. The bill was held over by the committee.

Since assuming office in 2013 to represent the 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst, Constantinides has led the City Council toward reducing carbon output in New York City 80% from its 2005 levels by 2050. Other legislation Constantinides has passed includes the use of renewable or cleaner energy sources, such as biodiesel, solar, wind, and geothermal power.

The National Climate Assessment, a scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies, has predicted that if significant steps are not taken to control global warming, the American economy could decline by as much as 10% by the end of the century.

The 1,656-page report, issued on the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 23, specifically cites these costs: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from rising sea levels, and $32 billion from infrastructure damage.

Another recent report by the nonprofit First Street Foundation found that housing values in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut dropped $6.7 billion from 2005 to 2017 from flooding related to sea level rise.

“Climate change is no longer a looming threat of tomorrow – it is a clear and present danger today,” said Constantinides in the November 20 press release announcing, along with Speaker Corey Johnson, a bill to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over the next decade, helping the city to meet its overall goal of reducing emissions 80% by 2050.

The bill, introduced by Constantinides at the December 11 stated Council meeting, mandates buildings 25,000 sq. ft. or larger meet new standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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