The Biden administration is making the grants available as part of a broader effort to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles and reduce air pollution near schools and communities.
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Vice President Kamala Harris and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Reagan announced the grant awards Wednesday in Seattle. The new, mostly electric school buses will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and better protect children’s health, she said.
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About 25 million children ride yellow buses every school day, Harris said, and a clean fleet will have a healthier future.
“We are seeing the effects of extreme weather in our country and around the world,” she said. “What we’re announcing today is a step forward in our nation’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, invest in our economy… invest in upskilling the American workforce. Go ahead. For them, save our planet.”
Until last year, only 1% of the country’s 480,000 school buses were electric, but in recent years there has been a push to phase out traditional diesel buses. The money for the new purchases is available under the federal Clean School Bus Program, which includes $5 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law that President Joe Biden signed last year.
Reagan said the Clean Bus program is “accelerating our nation’s transition to low-emission, electric school buses while ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children.”
The EPA initially made $500 million available for clean buses in May, but increased that amount to $965 million last month, in response to what officials say is strong demand for electric buses. An additional $1 billion is scheduled to be provided in the budget year beginning October 1.
The EPA said it received about 2,000 applications requesting about $4 billion for more than 12,000 mostly electric buses. The EPA said it has accepted about 389 applications worth $913 million to help buy 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric. The rest of the buses will run on compressed natural gas or propane.
School districts identified as priority areas serving low-income, rural or tribal students accounted for 99 percent of the projects selected, the White House said. More applications are being reviewed, and EPA plans to select more winners in the coming weeks to reach the full $965 million.