Health advocates want money from an $18 million settlement from Volkswagen to be invested in new electric school buses in order to improve the state’s air quality.
State officials are holding public meetings this month to gather feedback on how to spend the money the state is getting after the carmaker’s violations of the Clean Air Act.
Estefany Gonzalez said she sees the negative impacts of dirty air especially in children with asthma. She’s with Juntos: Our Air, Our Water, a local program designed to reduce health problems for Latino families.
Gonzalez said the public has a chance to weigh in on how the settlement is spent, “otherwise decisions are made without the community being at the forefront and without being able to voice their opinions and their realities.”
The state has to spend the settlement on reducing nitrogen oxide emissions which are linked to asthma and other lung diseases. They could choose to target school buses or other types of vehicles.
Public meetings are scheduled Monday August 21 in Albuquerque, Wednesday August 23 in Farmington and Thursday August 24 in Gallup.
KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation.