Government awarding $1 billion to schools for electric buses
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 400 school districts in all 50 states and Washington, DC, as well as several tribes and US territories will receive about $1 billion in grants to purchase about 2,500 “clean” school buses under a new federal program.
The Biden administration is providing the grants as part of broader efforts to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles and reduce air pollution near schools and communities.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will announce the grant awards Wednesday in Seattle. The new, mostly electric school buses are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and better protect children’s health, the White House said.
Up to 25 million children ride the familiar yellow school buses every school day and will have a “healthier future” with a cleaner fleet, Regan said. “This is just the beginning of our work to … reduce climate pollution and ensure the clean, breathable air that all our children deserve,” he said.
Only about 1% of the country’s 480,000 school buses were electric last year, but the push to ditch traditional diesel buses has gained momentum in recent years. Money for the new purchases is available under the federal Clean School Bus program, which includes $5 billion from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law last year.
The Clean Buses program “accelerates our country’s transition to electric and low-emission school buses while ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children,” Regan said in a statement.
The EPA initially committed $500 million to clean buses in May, but increased that to $965 million last month, responding to what officials considered overwhelming demand for electric buses across the country. Another billion US dollars is to be awarded in the fiscal year, which began on October 1st.
The EPA said it received about 2,000 applications requesting nearly $4 billion for more than 12,000 buses, mostly electric buses. A total of 389 applications worth $913 million were accepted to support the purchase of 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric, the EPA said. The remaining buses run on compressed natural gas or propane gas.
School districts identified as priority areas for low-income, rural or tribal students account for 99% of selected projects, the White House said. Additional applications are currently being reviewed, and the EPA plans to select additional winners to reach the full $965 million in the coming weeks.
Districts to receive money range from Wrangell, Alaska to Anniston, Alabama; and Teton County, Wyoming, to Wirt County, West Virginia. In addition to Washington, major cities that have received grants for clean school buses include New York, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Seattle.
Harris and Regan are expected to announce the awards at an event in Seattle with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Gov. Jay Inslee. Murray is running for re-election against Republican Tiffany Smiley.
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