WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 400 school districts spanning all 50 states and Washington, DC, as well as several U.S. tribes and territories, are receiving about $1 billion in grants to purchase about 2,500 “clean” school buses as part of a a new federal program.
Biden administration makes grants available as part of broader effort to accelerate transition to zero-emission vehicles and reduce air pollution near schools and communities.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced the grant awards Wednesday in Seattle. The new, mostly electric school buses will reduce greenhouse gas emissionssave money and better protect children’s health, they said.
As many as 25 million children ride yellow buses every school day, and they’ll have a healthier future with a cleaner fleet, Harris said.
“We are witnessing in our country and around the world the effects of extreme weather,” she said. “What we are announcing today is a step forward in our country’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, to invest in our economy…to invest in building the skills of the workforce. American work. All with the goal of not just saving our children, but for them, saving our planet.″
Only about 1% of the country’s 480,000 school buses were electric last year, but the trend away from traditional diesel buses has accelerated in recent years. The money for the new purchases is available through the federal Clean School Bus Program, which includes $5 billion from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act President Joe Biden signed last year.
The clean bus program “accelerates our nation’s transition to electric and low-emission school buses while ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children,” Regan said.
The EPA initially made $500 million available for clean buses in May, but increased that amount to $965 million last month, responding to what officials said was overwhelming demand for electric buses. An additional $1 billion is expected to be granted in the budget year that began Oct. 1.
The EPA said it received about 2,000 applications asking nearly $4 billion for more than 12,000 mostly electric buses. Some 389 applications worth $913 million have been accepted to support the purchase of 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric, the EPA said. The remaining buses will run on compressed natural gas or propane.
School districts identified as priority areas serving low-income, rural or tribal students account for 99% of selected projects, the White House said. More applications are being reviewed, and the EPA plans to select more winners to reach the full $965 million in the coming weeks.
Districts expected to receive money range from Wrangell, Alaska, to Anniston, Alabama, and from Teton County, Wyoming, to Wirt County, West Virginia. Other than the District of Columbia, major cities that have won clean school bus grants include New York, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
White House adviser Mitch Landrieu said he expects many buses to be delivered by the start of the next school year, with the rest likely to be in service by the end of the school year. end of 2023. The billion dollars spent this year, as well as an additional 4 billion dollars. expected over the next four years — expected to “energize” a domestic electric school bus manufacturing boom, said Landrieu, a former New Orleans mayor hired by Biden to oversee spending in the Massive Infrastructure Act .
“These buses will be made in America – real jobs with real salaries,” Landrieu said in an interview. “We are going to ramp up manufacturing in this country.”
Environmental and public health groups welcomed the announcement, which comes after years of advocacy to replace diesel-powered buses with cleaner alternatives.
“It doesn’t make sense to send our children to school on buses that create pollution that is harmful to the brain, lungs, cancer and the climate,” said Molly Rauch, director of public health policy. for Moms Clean Air Force, an environmental group. “Our children, our bus drivers and our communities deserve better.”
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