New York City Council Passes Legislation to Protect Our Children, Communities, & Climate by Transitioning to Electric School Buses



Also Passes Legislation to Create Citywide Climate Adaptation Plan to Help Address Impacts of Climate Change


October 7, 2021
Contact: Chris Dobens, 718-679-8542,


HARLEM, NY — Today the New York City Council passed two bills designed to help ease the disproportionate environmental burdens that low-income communities and communities of color – known as environmental justice communities – have had to endure for decades. Intro 455-2018 Version A will require that school buses serving New York City public schools be all-electric by September 1, 2035 and Intro 1620-2019 Version A calls for the creation a citywide climate adaptation plan by September 30, 2022.

Intro 455-2018 Version A – Electric School Buses
As a member of the New York City Clean Bus Coalition, WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT) has been advocating for the passage of Intro 455-2018 Version A with key provisions – such as tracking the percentage of routes served by all-electric school buses as well as the locations of charging infrastructure – to ensure that environmental justice communities equitably benefit from the reduction in toxic exhaust that diesel school buses produce. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the legislation into law, having already pledged his support for the measure, including a goal of at least 75 electric school buses by July 1, 2033.

“This is a tremendous victory for all New Yorkers, but environmental justice communities in particular because buses are usually based in these communities, adding to the cumulative impact of what is already significantly worse air quality from the highways, factories, and other sources of pollution that exist in these neighborhoods,” said LJ Portis, WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator. “We thank Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and James Gennaro for their leadership in getting this passed.”

Most school buses operating in the city are run on diesel fuel, which produces exhaust that is a Group 1 carcinogen and contains high levels of particulate matter pollution that studies have shown increase the threats of asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, heart attacks, lung cancer, and premature death. Studies have also shown that the children on the bus may be exposed to up to four times as much of this toxic pollution as someone traveling behind it.

The legislation stipulates that the replacement of diesel school buses will be subject to the commercial availability and reliability of all-electric buses and the infrastructure required to operate them. This should not be a problem, though, because school districts in California and Maryland have already started implementing similar plans. The bill also requires the New York City Department of Education to provide progress reports on implementation to the Mayor and Speaker of the City Council on July 1st of 2023, 2028, and 2033.

Intro 1620-2019 Version A – Climate Adaptation Plan
With three tropical storms and several heat waves taking a heavy toll on New York City this summer in terms of both lives and dollars, WE ACT also applauds the passage Intro 1620-2019 Version A. This legislation will require the New York City Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability or its designee to work with other agencies to create a comprehensive citywide adaptation plan by September 30, 2022 – and every 10 years thereafter – to examine and assess the risks posed by the climate crisis. The plan would identify areas vulnerable to extreme weather events fueled by climate change – such as heat, rain, and wind as well as tidal flooding, storm surge flooding, sea level rise, and wildfires – and make recommendations for equitable resiliency and adaptation measures to protect residents, property, and infrastructure throughout the city.

“We made certain this bill included language to ensure that the plan will specifically address the impacts of climate change on environmental justice communities, which are hit first and worst by its impacts,” added Portis. “We would like to thank Councilmember Justin Lee Brannan and former Councilmember Costa Constantinides for their leadership on this, and we encourage Mayor De Blasio to sign it into law.”

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. Visit us at and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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