Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released data on the applications it received in the first round of funding in its historic $5 billion Clean School Bus Program, authorized under the bi-partisan 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Clean School Bus Program will award school districts and other eligible applicants funds to replace polluting diesel school buses with cleaner options, including electric school buses.
The Agency received nearly 2,000 applications totaling almost $4 billion from school districts in all fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and federally recognized tribes -- eight times the $500 million initially designated for this first rebate round. In response to this overwhelming demand, the EPA announced it will increase the awards issued in this round to $965 million.
Eligible applicants had the option of applying for funds for electric school buses, propane buses or compressed natural gas buses. Today, the Agency announced that over 90% percent of applications were for electric, just under 9% were for propane, and 1% were for compressed natural gas. The list of winning applicants, who will be selected through a lottery based on several prioritization criteria, is expected to be released in October 2022.
“With applications flooding the Clean School Bus Program, school districts around the country have spoken: they’re ready to make polluting diesel buses a thing of the past. For too long, students and drivers across the country have suffered the impacts of diesel exhaust pollution, a known carcinogen which can lead to asthma and other respiratory illnesses,” said SUE GANDER, DIRECTOR, ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUS INITIATIVE, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE. “And, there’s more to the story. The overwhelming demand for electric school buses, over any other fuel type, is striking. Applicants across the country chose electric buses over propane at a rate of 10 to 1. There’s no doubt we’re entering a new, electric era in student transportation, one with massive benefits for our kids’ health, climate and the economy.”
“The benefits of transportation electrification are especially pronounced in communities of color, who face elevated levels of on-road fine particulate matter. We applaud the fact that the Clean School Bus Program has been designated as part of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative and are eager to see electric school buses reach the communities who most stand to benefit,” said JENNIFER RENNICKS, SENIOR MANAGER OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE. “We encourage the EPA and Congress to take note: districts everywhere are ready to leave fossil fuels in the rear-view mirror. The unprecedented response to the Clean School Bus Program sends a clear signal that additional funds to support equitable school bus electrification, through the annual Appropriations process as well as other legislative vehicles, are warranted.”
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