The Biden administration announced Friday it’s making $500 million available to school districts and other eligible operators and contractors to replace their fleet of diesel school buses with electric ones.
What You Need To Know
- The Biden administration announced Friday it’s making $500 million available to school districts and other eligible operators and contractors to replace their fleet of diesel school buses with electric ones
- The funding is the first round of $5 billion allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed by Congress in November, to be spent on low- and zero-emission buses over the next five years
- Vice President Kamala Harris, EPA head Michael Regan and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu will announce the launch of the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program on Friday afternoon in Falls Church, Virginia
- The EPA said a transition to electric buses “will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on fueling climate change”
The funding is the first round of $5 billion allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed by Congress in November, to be spent on low- and zero-emission buses over the next five years.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Environmental Protection Administration head Michael Regan and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu announced the launch of the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program on Friday afternoon at Meridian High School in Falls Church, Virginia.
Before delivering remarks, Harris and other administration officials were shown new electric buses that were built in High Point, North Carolina, at a factory the vice president toured back in April. After hearing from children about their experiences riding on old diesel buses, Harris asked: "Do you smell anything on these buses?"
"Just the tires," one student replied.
The funding announced by the Biden administration can cover up to 25 charging stations and 25 EV buses per applicant, according to the White House.
"The president and I, and many of the adults gathered here, we are working hard, all of us together, to make sure that every one of the children in our nation, all of these students, that they have the opportunity, that they have the resources to live up to their extraordinary potential," Harris said to those gathered on Friday. "And we know the potential is there."
Over 25 million school children ride the bus to and from school each day, the vast majority of whom operate with diesel fuel-powered engines. The administration hopes school districts across the country apply for funds to change out their fleets to more electric-powered vehicles.
"Diesel exhaust is a poison," Harris said. "Breathing diesel fumes can cause headaches, and nausea. It can worsen asthma and chronic bronchitis. It can even elevate the risk of cancer."
“This historic investment under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will forever transform school bus fleets across the United States,” EPA administrator Regan said in a statement. “These funding opportunities to replace older, heavily-polluting buses will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses, many of whom live in overburdened and underserved communities. Today we take a major step toward a future where clean, zero-emissions school buses are the American standard.”
The EPA said a transition to electric buses “will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on fueling climate change.” The agency also noted that diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that disproportionately impact students in communities of color and tribal communities.
“Every dollar we invest in clean school buses means cleaner air, healthier students, and a brighter future for our nation,” Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement. “ … For those of us who have spent years working to clean up our nation’s school buses, we know there are millions of dirty buses that need replacing, especially in our most disadvantaged communities.”
Districts and school bus operators and contractors can apply for grants from Friday until Aug. 19. There will be another round of funding later this year, and then one each year over the next five years, the EPA said.
The infrastructure law allows the EPA to prioritize applications for buses serving high-need local education agencies, tribal schools and rural areas. President Joe Biden has set a goal of directing at least 40% of the benefits of certain government investments to underserved communities, and the EPA said it will strive to meet that commitment with the Clean School Bus Program.
A portion of the funding can be spent on installing electric vehicle charging stations. The money must be spent on American-made buses.
The EPA also touted the program by saying the purchases will drive demand for U.S.-made batteries and vehicles, boosting domestic manufacturing and creating good-paying jobs. ‘
“This is a win for our economy, our environment, and most of all, our nation’s children, all of whom deserve to breathe clean, safe air,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”
The EPA also said the zero-emission buses cost less for school districts to operate and the electricity stored in the vehicles could be transmitted back into the grid to meet extra energy demand or help during power outages.