Biden administration launches $5 billion clean electric school bus program

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan today launch the Clean School Bus program, part of President Joe’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. Biden, from a high school in Falls Church, Va.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Act of 2021 authorizes the EPA to offer rebates to replace diesel school buses with what the EPA calls “clean, zero-emission (ZE) models.” Electric buses will have priority over alternative fuels.

The first round of funding for the Clean School Bus Program will be awarded in the form of lottery rebates. The lottery will prioritize applications from priority school districts – low-income, rural, tribal, and/or high-needs school districts.

School districts can apply now to receive the rebate, which will be sent to the manufacturer or retailer before the school district pays. Applications can request funds for up to 25 new electric school buses or the price differential between these buses and diesel buses. Details can be found here.

The EPA will award up to $500 million this year, and the deadline to apply for this year’s rebate program is August 19, 2022.

The Environmental Protection Agency explained in an announcement on its website:

With funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the EPA’s new Clean School Bus program is providing $5 billion over the next five years (fiscal year 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission models and low emission. The EPA is offering $500 million through the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates for zero- and low-emission school bus rebates as the first funding opportunity.

Jennifer Rennicks of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Global Resources Institute, who serves as Senior Director of Government Affairs for WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative, said in an emailed statement:

Vice President Harris’ longstanding commitment to this issue is a tremendous testament to her efforts and this administration’s willingness to help schools and communities join the transition to an electrified future. WRI applauds the EPA’s decision to prioritize funding for underserved districts. WRI looks forward to working with EPA to continue to strengthen and improve the program for future funding cycles.

US PIRG Environmental Campaigns Director Matt Casale said:

Going to school shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or make our children sick. And we shouldn’t continue to use dirty diesel buses as they make the climate crisis worse. The opening of the Clean School Bus Program should mean the end of dirty school buses as we know them.

The American Lung Association has called on Congress to invest $20 billion to convert one-fifth of all diesel school buses to electric to protect children’s health.

Read more: New York State Commits to 100% Electric School Buses by 2035

Photo: Lion electric buses

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