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Arizona advocates call on Ducey to upgrade state’s school buses

In this Jan. 7, 2015 file photo, public school buses are parked in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona advocates are calling on Gov. Doug Ducey to use money from a March settlement involving Volkswagen to replace the state’s diesel school buses.

The League of Conservation Voters held a rally on Thursday to ask the governor to use $57 million — Arizona’s share of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust — to replace the state’s diesel-powered buses.

The rally was part of the group’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, which launched in April.

(Photo by Corbin Carson/KTAR News)

(Photo by Corbin Carson/KTAR News)

Arizona was given $57 million to put toward clean air initiatives after Volkswagen pleaded guilty to three criminal counts for its vehicles that cheated federal emissions tests.

The company was forced to pay out nearly $15 billion total.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, who was at Thursday’s rally, also called on Ducey to do the right thing. “This $57 million that’s coming to the state is as a consequence of cheating. So let’s use that money correctly.”

John B. Gomez, president of the Cartwright School District, said replacing the school buses will help schoolchildren with asthma and other health issues.

Advocates for clear-air buses argue that diesel buses expose children to dirty air and cancer-causing pollutants, but the electric ones have zero emissions.

Gomez said Maryvale has the largest concentration of respiratory issues and many children in the area can’t afford or don’t have access to proper medication for their asthma.

“Community leaders are working together to try to get those funds to purchase the clean-air buses, or to modify those buses to ensure that they are non-pollutant,” Gomez said.

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