MN350 Urges Minnesotans to Tell the PCA to Buy Electric Buses with Volkswagen Settlement Money

Electric school buses wanted.


August 14, 2019

MN350 and its members are using that twist on Volkswagen’s Drivers Wanted slogan to push the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to use the millions of dollars Minnesota received from the German automaker to transform school buses throughout Minnesota.

Volkswagen agreed to pay $2.9 billion to settle claims that for a decade its diesel vehicles violated clean air standards and the company cheated on emission tests to hide that pollution. Minnesota will receive a total of $47 million.

The public has until Aug. 16 to send comments to the agency telling them how they should spend about $23 million of Volkswagen money in the next four years. Using the money to replace diesel school buses around the state with electric school buses provides two benefits. It reduces carbon dioxide emissions causing the climate change crisis and it improves the health of children.

“Diesel exhaust is bad for health,” said Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni, an internal medicine physician working in Minneapolis. “It’s bad for anyone but it’s especially bad for children. School buses are self-polluting and studies show the exhaust concentrates inside the bus with one study showing the concentration of the pollutants can be 23 to 46 times higher inside the bus than the safe limit. We have the children breathe all these pollutants right before dropping them off at school.”

Burning diesel fuel produces nitrogen oxides which cause smog and also contributes to asthma and lung damage, especially in children. Asthma is the primary cause of school absenteeism in Minnesota, hitting communities of color especially hard because they have higher asthma rates.

In order to successfully protect the planet from global warming, scientists agreed that we have to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the next 11 years. Transportation is the top sector of the economy that produces large amounts of those gases.

"Using this funding for electric vehicles will set Minnesota up to clean up our transportation system and combat the climate crisis," said Noa Shavit-Lonstein, an organizer with MN350. "We need to start that change today, and start with the most vulnerable among us: our youth."

To its credit, in phase one the pollution control agency spent $11 million to expand electrical vehicle charging stations around the state and did replace 111 diesel school buses with cleaner fuels, but none of the new buses were electric.

Any Minnesota citizen can send in written comments by Aug. 16 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at


MN350 is a statewide group with 20,000 supporters working to make Minnesota a national leader in a just transition to a clean energy economy. MN350 Action is its political and advocacy arm.


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