Under a new federal initiative, over 400 school districts from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as several tribes and U.S. territories, will get funds totaling about $1 billion to buy around 2,500 “clean” school buses.
The funds are being offered by the Biden administration as part of a larger initiative to hasten the switch to zero-emission vehicles and lessen air pollution around communities and schools.
The grants were announced on Wednesday in Seattle by Vice President Kamala Harris and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Michael Regan. They claimed that the new school buses, which are primarily electric, will lower greenhouse gas emissions, save money, and better protect children’s health.
A cleaner fleet will lead to a healthier future for the 25 million kids who ride the well-known yellow buses to school each day, according to Harris.
Only approximately 1% of the 480,000 school buses in the country were electric as of the previous year, but the movement to do rid of conventional diesel buses has gained steam recently. The federal Clean School Bus Program has funding available for the new acquisitions, including $5 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure measure that President Joe Biden signed last year.
Regan referred to the clean bus program as “just the beginning of our work to… reduce climate pollution and ensure the clean, breathable air that all our children deserve” and said it “is accelerating our nation’s transition to electric and low-emission school buses while ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children.”
Due to what officials described as an extraordinary demand for electric buses around the nation, the EPA yy its initial $500 million grant for clean buses to $965 million last month. In the fiscal year that began on October 1st, an additional $1 billion is planned to be distributed.
Over 12,000 buses, primarily electric, were requested in over 2,000 applications, according to the EPA.
According to the EPA, a total of 389 applications totaling $913 million were approved to finance the purchase of 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric. The remaining buses will be powered by propane or compressed natural gas.
According to the White House, 99 percent of the projects chosen are in school districts that have been designated as priority areas and serve low-income, rural, or indigenous students. The EPA is currently reviewing further applications, and it intends to choose more winners in the upcoming weeks in order to award the whole $965 million.
From Wrangell, Alaska, to Anniston, Alabama, and Teton County, Wyoming, to Wirt County, West Virginia, districts will get funding. Major cities that received funding for clean school buses, in addition to Washington, include New York, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
The announcement, which comes after years of advocacy to replace diesel-powered buses with cleaner alternatives, was praised by environmental and public health groups.
Along with Harris and Regan, the ceremony was attended by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Governor Jay Inslee, and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. Republican Tiffany Smiley is Murrray’s opponent in the reelection race.