“Here in St. Cloud, you are not just building better buses; you are building a better America.”
Vice President Kamala Harris was extremely impressed with the buses being built at a St. Cloud facility that creates electric-powered buses. On Thursday, while inside the New Flyer bus manufacturing facility, she explained how those buses signify something larger: the country’s dedication to the climate and clean energy.
Around 500 people attended the event, according to White House officials. Harris began with a tour of the facility where those buses are built. The particular plant she visited employs around 600 workers.
“What you guys are doing is incredibly awesome,” she said to an employee. “This is highly skilled work.”
Local push for clean energy
“We appreciate the vice president being here to talk about such an important subject, clean energy,” said St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis.
In explaining why Harris chose to visit St. Cloud, Kleis pointed to several factors, including the city’s commitment to electric energy. In 2014, the city made a goal to be carbon-neutral in its city buildings by 2018. It surpassed that goal and now aims to have all public and private buildings carbon-neutral by 2038.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison thanked Harris for the administration’s commitment to clean energy. In his statements, he emphasized the Biden administration’s focus on electrifying transportation, referencing a bill Biden introduced in 2019 that aimed to electrify the nation’s school bus fleet.
Harris’ visit to St. Cloud comes two days after the State of the Union address, where President Biden explained that the administration is prioritizing jobs, rebuilding infrastructure, lowering costs for the middle class and investing in a clean energy future.
Harris highlighted the administration’s passing of the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which secured $5.5 billion for clean transit buses, $850 million of which will go towards public transit in Minnesota, according to the White House.
In her remarks, Harris acknowledged Gov. Tim Walz’s commitment to the environment, though hw was unable to attend the event since he was in Washington D.C., for a governor’s meeting.
“He has been a true champion and a partner to the president and our administration, and particularly a champion to our climate and for communities,” Harris said.
Behind Harris was a backdrop of three clean energy buses made by New Flyer.
“Every day, millions of Americans ride the bus to go to work, to school, to church, to the grocery store – to wherever they need to get,” Harris said. “America’s buses get people where they need to go. They are essential, and they are in desperate need of upgrading.”
Since most buses currently run on diesel fuel, Harris said upgrading buses to electric would help curb the climate crisis and improve health outcomes for Americans.
“Diesel exhaust is a poison. Breathing diesel fumes can cause headaches and nausea, it can make asthma and chronic bronchitis worse, and it can also cause a risk of cancer,” Harris said. “But there’s a solution to all of this, and that solution is parked right over there, right over there and right over there.”