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Letters – Aug. 4, 2022

Locations: Letters, Opinion Published

Electric school buses

I am a mom of two here in Carbondale. My kids will soon be of school age and will ride a diesel school bus that produces dangerously high amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, and other unhealthy air pollutants, each year. I was excited to learn there are currently federal funds available to all public school districts across the country to purchase clean, zero-emission, electric school buses! This funding is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (sometimes known as the Bipartisan Investment Bill) that Congress passed last year. 

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Through the Bipartisan Investment Bill, $5 billion will be available for school districts to purchase new electric school buses and the necessary funding for charging infrastructure. I deeply hope that the Roaring Fork School District will apply for funding because it will ensure the health and safety of our children on their way to and from school and benefit our entire community.

Electric school buses are much more efficient than diesel buses. A Forbes article found that schools spend 14¢ per mile with electric buses instead of 49¢ per mile for diesel buses. 

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The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) wrote about the success two mountain towns in Colorado –– Durango and Kremmling –– had with their new electric school buses. The EESI said the electric school buses handled better on the steep mountain roads and were almost three times cheaper to operate than a traditional diesel bus.

If the Roaring Fork school district invests in electric school buses and saves their funds, they can use the money they would have spent on diesel school buses into raising teachers’ salaries, buying better materials, or upgrading a classroom. This would benefit our children and their future.

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Please visit the EPA Clean School Bus Program website for more information, including the full program guide that has all the details. The EPA will prioritize rural school districts, such as the Roaring Fork School District, for funding. The application process is now open and will be open until Aug. 19.

Electric school buses are cheaper, healthier and would benefit the entire roaring fork community. Applying for this funding would help to drive the Roaring Fork School District into the 21st century. I really hope we can make this a reality.

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If I can help in any way, please let me know. 

Kristina Wohl, Carbondale

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No water, no growth 

Following up on Patrick Hunter’s letter (Affordable for whom?) and tying in the recent trustees’ meeting about securing the water supply, one solution falls out: no new construction permits without proof of new water rights. There is not going to be more water in the future. The likelihood of going back to the 1950-1990 water supply is small, so any growth in population will require securing water by buying it from an existing entity, most likely agriculture. 

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As the recent Colorado Water Conservation Board’s proposed water plan reports, 90% of Colorado’s water goes to the agriculture sector. Any growth in the municipal sector will have to come from redirecting water from the agricultural sector. Read it for yourself and submit comments at www.engagecwcb.org/colorado-water-plan 

I know this sounds elitist and like shutting the door behind us, but at some point we have to recognize there is not enough supply to go around. That point is now. We need to do other things to prevent housing prices running us out of town. Perhaps by restricting property value increases and property tax increases? That also sounds socialist, but making changes for the common good is, well, good. We either survive together or die apart. I’d rather have the former.

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Susan Rhea, Carbondale

Affordable housing

The Department of the Treasury has new guidelines to better the ways of state, local and tribal governments in upping the affordable housing stock in their communities. The updates turbocharge President Joe Biden’s Housing Supply Action Plan and more creatively leverage American Rescue Plan money for affordable housing, so as to increase the U.S. housing supply and lower housing cost over the next five years. 

The treasury department encourages various governments to apply for some of the $350 billion available under the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) for development, repair and operation of affordable housing units. 

Furthermore, the treasury department expanded the flexibility to use SLFRF to fully finance long-term affordable loans and broaden presumptively eligible affordable housing uses to maximize SLFRF money availability for affordable housing. 

In the near term, look forward to U.S. Treasury webinars and briefings with state and local governments, as well as both nonprofit and private sector entities, in developing and preserving affordable housing and how to use SLFRF funds to expand their affordable housing supply. 

Also, the U.S. Treasury has more programs to ease housing costs, such as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help prevent evictions, and the Homeowner Assistance Fund which provides nearly $10 billion to prevent foreclosures. 

In rural America, the Biden administration is pushing rural single family housing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Construction to Permanent program lets approved lenders and homebuilders participate in the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan program to close both construction and permanent financing simultaneously and receive a loan note guarantee before construction begins. This added certainty enables more single family housing to be built more quickly in rural America. 

The USDA will educate lenders on the program’s merit, in hopes of increasing use of the program and increasing new rural construction.

Emzy Veazy III, Aspen

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