Dozens Of School Districts Get New Buses After VW Settlement
More than four dozen Arizona school districts are getting new school buses at no cost to taxpayers.
The tab for the 142 new buses is coming from the state's $59 million share of a nationwide settlement with Volkswagen over the sale of its so-called "clean-diesel'' vehicles. Gov. Doug Ducey had ultimate authority on how to divide the cash, within certain court-approved guidelines.
More districts may benefit in the future. The governor's office said it is still reviewing the applications from another 63 districts to see if they qualify.
In 2016, VW pleaded guilty to three felonies, including defrauding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
VW engineers had installed a "defeat device," programmed to go into a low-emission mode during testing but then spew out pollutants at much higher — and illegal — levels when actually on the road to improve performance.
The company agreed to $4.3 billion in penalties and another $4.9 billion to address pollution from the supposedly low-emission diesel vehicles.
Arizona's $57 million share had to be spent on projects to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen, the very pollutants the VW vehicles were spitting out above permissible levels.
State officials figure that, for each aging school bus replaced, those with at least 100,000 miles, emissions of nitrogen oxides will be reduced by nearly 1.4 tons over that vehicle's anticipated 12-year life.
And Dawn Wallace, the governor's education adviser, said 80 percent of the money awarded is going to school districts in areas which already are in danger of violating clean-air standards.
The decision of how to spend the money is not without controversy.
Last year, Chispa Arizona, an arm of the League of Conservation Voters, submitted petitions with more than 16,000 names to Ducey requesting that he use the money to replace the aging diesel buses with zero-emission vehicles. They argued that is the only way to ensure that school children are not exposed to dirty air and cancer-causing pollutants from tailpipe emissions.
But Ducey's office opted not to replace the diesel buses with electric vehicles.
Aides to the governor said the decision starts with the fact that fewer than 50 electric school buses could be purchased for the same price as more than 150 conventionally fueled vehicles. They said that replacing that many diesel-powered buses with new ones results in about 36 percent less overall pollution than buying fewer zero-emission buses.
The settlement requires old buses to be fully decommissioned.
Aguila Elementary : 1 bus
Alhambra Elementary : 6 buses
American Basic School dua Burke Basic School : 1 bus
Ask Creek Elementary : 1 bus
Beaver Creek Elementary : 1 bus
Bowie Unified : 1 bus
Buckeye Elementary : 3 buses
Cartwright Elementary : 5 buses
Casa Grande Elementary : 6 buses
Concho Elementary : 1 bus
Congress Elementary : 1 bus
Cottonwood-Oak Creek : 1 bus
Crane Elementary : 3 buses
Douglas Unified : 2 buses
Eloy Elementary : 1 bus
Flowing Wells Unified : 2 buses
Gadsden Elementary : 4 buses
Holbrook Unified : 4 buses
Isaac Elementary : 2 buses
Kingman Unified : 10 buses
Littleton Elementary : 2 buses
Maine Consolidated : 1 bus
Mammoth-San Manuel Unified : 1 bus
Mary C. O'Brien Accommodation : 1 bus
Mayer Unified : 1 bus
McNary Elementary : 1 bus
Miami Unified : 1 bus
Mingus Union High School : 1 bus
Mobile Elementary : 1 bus
Mohawk Valley Elementary : 1 bus
Nadburg : 2 buses
Nogales Unified : 1 bus
Page Unified : 2 buses
Palo Verde Elementary : 1 bus
Parker Unified : 2 buses
Patagonia Union : 1 bus
Pearce Elementary : 1 bus
Riverside Elementary : 1 bus
San Simon : 1 bus
Sanders Unified : 2 buses
Santa Cruz Valley Unified : 4 buses
Seligman Unified : 1 bus
Solomon Elementary : 2 buses
Tempe Elementary : 8 buses
Tolleson Elementary : 1 bus
Washington Elementary : 11 buses
Wenden Elementary : 2 buses
Whiteriver Unified : 3 buses
Willcox Unified : 2 buses
Window Rock Unified : 3 buses
Winslow Unified : 4 buses
Young Elementary : 1 bus
Yuma Elementary : 7 buses
Yuma Union : 9 buses