Local group wants Volkswagen settlement to go toward electric school buses

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Chispa Arizona wants to use the cash from the Volkswagen emissions settlement to buy electric school buses. (Source: CNN) Chispa Arizona wants to use the cash from the Volkswagen emissions settlement to buy electric school buses. (Source: CNN)
Chispa is meeting with lawmakers to drum up support for their proposal. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Chispa is meeting with lawmakers to drum up support for their proposal. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Arizona will receive about $57 million from the Volkswagen emissions settlement. (Source: CNN) Arizona will receive about $57 million from the Volkswagen emissions settlement. (Source: CNN)
Chispa hopes to have these buses on the road by 2018. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Chispa hopes to have these buses on the road by 2018. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Arizona stands to gain $57 million from a large Volkswagen settlement after allegations of cheating emissions tests. One local group said they know where that money should go, and they say their idea will help children the most.

A local climate justice group says the Latino population is disproportionately affected by pollution, but they say they have a long-term solution - electric school buses. 

"We love living in this area," said Herlinda Calderon, through a translator. "There are some things are that are concerning to us. However, we love living in this area." 

Calderon said one of those concerns is the air quality in her neighborhood west of downtown Phoenix.

"We have concerns about pollution in the area, the gas stations around and also the yards of buses," she said.

Calderon's 10-year-old daughter has asthma, but thanks to the precautions they take, she's stable. 

"I try not to take her out on certain days, and when I do, I take her to cleaner areas where there's less pollution," Calderon said.

"They live in neighborhoods where the pollution is high," said Masavi Perea with Chispa Arizona.

He said Latinos tend to live closer to freeways and industrial areas with less vegetation nearby. Chispa is meeting with lawmakers to drum up support for their proposal, which would use money from the Volkswagen settlement to get electric school buses for some districts.

"We are focusing on school districts such as the ones in the west part of Phoenix and south Phoenix," Perea said. "Cartwright District, Roosevelt District."

The settlement money has to go toward reducing vehicle emissions and at $300,000 per bus, this project would otherwise be out of reach. The Governor's Office and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality are working on a plan to figure out how to use the funds. 

Chispa hopes to have these buses on the road by 2018. 

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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