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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

'Checking under the hood' of the electric school bus movement

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Thursday, February 29, 2024   

Most school buses on the nation's roadways are still powered by diesel engines but in North Dakota and elsewhere, there is hope about the push to switch to electric fleets.

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, school systems can seek federal grants and rebates to buy electric buses. This year, the Harvey School District in North Dakota was among the recent funding recipients.

Susan Mudd, senior policy advocate for the Midwest-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, said it is encouraging to see this activity, knowing the benefits that come with it.

"The children or the riders on buses, including the drivers, will experience zero tailpipe emissions," Mudd pointed out. "Which they now do because fumes, unfortunately, often get circulated into buses. "

The electric models also prevent harmful emissions from floating through neighborhoods, especially when buses are idled. Mudd noted it has a positive effect on human health as well as mitigating climate change, as transportation is responsible for nearly 30% of U.S. carbon emissions. Even with federal support, she acknowledged there are still upfront cost barriers in getting electric buses.

Elsewhere in North Dakota, the Mapleton School District recently began running the electric bus it obtained through the federal program.

Jenna Farkas, superintendent in Mapleton, said their small district has a tiny fleet, but thinks the change could still have a big impact.

"Since we do only run one bus, it would only make sense that we could also just run an electric bus and save on fuel, as well as hopefully the maintenance," Farkas explained.

She added they will keep their older diesel model as a backup. As for other challenges, experts studying these efforts say for large fleets, implementing charging infrastructure can create headaches.

Some districts rely on transportation leases, which complicates program requirements to replace old models. There are nearly 500,000 school buses in the U.S., and only a small percentage are electric. Advocates said the program is ushering in several thousand more as applications are processed.


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