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White House unveils $1 billion for electric and low-emission school buses

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Ariana Figueroa, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
January 9, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Monday $1 billion in funding for more than 2,700 electric and low-emission school buses across 37 states.

This is the second part of funding of a $5 billion, five-year initiative from the bipartisan infrastructure law. In total, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program has awarded nearly $2 billion and funded approximately 5,000 electric and low-emission school buses nationwide.

On a call with reporters, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said that many school buses “rely on internal combustion engines that emit toxic pollution in to the air.”

“Not only are these pollutants harmful to the environment, but they can also be harmful to the health and well-being of every student, every bus driver and every resident in surrounding communities,” he continued.

Out of the 2,737 school buses, 95% will be electric, the White House said. There are roughly half a million school buses across the U.S. used by public schools. A recent Office of Inspector General’s report found that EPA’s Clean Bus Program could be delayed by local utility companies trying to meet demand for electric school buses.

The report found that because “EPA’s 2022 rebate application did not require applicants to coordinate with their utility companies before applying for rebates … the Agency may be unable to effectively manage and achieve the program mission unless utility companies can meet increasing power supply demands for electric school buses.”

In response to that report, Regan said that he is in contact with electric utilities across the country and “they’re excited about (electric vehicles) period, whether it be school buses, whether it be transit or whether it be cars and trucks.”

“I have no doubt that our electricity system can handle this transition,” he said.

Regan said that low-income public school districts and tribal communities make up about 86% of the projects selected to receive funding. Some of those funding mechanisms include grants, rebates and contracts.

“I am so excited that the Pittsburgh School District will be getting a brand-new fleet of zero-emissions, clean school buses,” Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-12th District) said in a statement. “Our children deserve a healthy future where they can breathe clean air and drink clean water–and this is one crucial step in achieving that reality.”

States that were given multiple awards for clean energy school buses include Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington state, among others.

States that have received single awards that go toward school buses, infrastructure and program costs include:

  • Alabama
  • $5.9 million for 15 school buses
  • Iowa
  • $5.9 million for 15 school buses
  • Kentucky
  • $6.9 million for 17 school buses
  • Maryland
  • $4.7 million for 50 school buses
  • New Jersey
  • $18.9 million for 42 school buses
  • Nevada
  • $7.7 million for 25 school buses
  • New York
  • $68.9 million for 200 school buses
  • Pennsylvania
  • $47.3 million for 120 school buses
  • Virginia
  • $17 million for 57 school buses
  • West Virginia 
  • $18.5 million for 47 school buses

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.