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All new school buses in New York will need to be ‘zero emission’ by 2027

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $220 billion budget was signed into law last week, and clean-energy advocates say it includes a strong commitment to addressing climate change in the state.

The budget requires all new school bus purchases to be ‘zero emission’ by 2027, and all school buses in use be ‘zero emission’ by 2035. New York is the first state in the country to enact this requirement.

Deb Peck Kelleher, director of policy analysis and operations at the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said it is a great win, both for children and the environment.

“Diesel buses are one of the large causes of particulate-matter pollution, and our schoolchildren now are facing a significant increase in asthma,” Peck Kelleher asserted. “Removing just one of these sources of diesel pollution is just going to be a great public-health success.”

The budget provides $500 million through the Environmental Bond Act to support school districts in purchasing zero-emission buses and related infrastructure, including charging stations.

Peck Kelleher pointed out she was disappointed to see the governor’s energy-efficiency package cut from the budget. It would have strengthened the state’s building code for new construction and appliance efficiency standards.

Hochul’s budget also includes $25 billion to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes and electrify 50,000 homes. Peck Kelleher noted electrifying homes will not only reduce fossil fuel emissions, but save families money.

“For those areas of our state that are facing significant energy costs, fossil fuel costs have just risen dramatically in the last couple of months,” Peck Kelleher observed. “And being able to weatherize those homes, they’ll see reduced costs right away once that happens.”

New York leads the nation in premature deaths resulting from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels for heating, hot water and cooking. The governor has committed to getting two million homes in the state electrified or electric-ready by 2030.