WASHINGTON (January 04, 2024) – Last week, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released two reports regarding the first round of funding through the agency’s Clean School Bus Program (the Program), created by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.
Both reports indicated that EPA is successfully fulfilling its mandate to provide support for the transition to cleaner school buses so that students will no longer have to breathe dangerous diesel exhaust pollution. Citing data from WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative, one report noted that the Program has provided support for thousands of electric school buses and related charging infrastructure to date. Since the reports were developed, EPA has continued to evolve the Program and already taken additional steps to improve the delivery of funding and to continue to safeguard its integrity.
The audit report focused on potential supply chain or production delays and confirmed that the manufacturing supply chain is capable of meeting the demand of the Program. It also highlighted the importance of early coordination between school districts and their electric utility on charging infrastructure. We applaud EPA for taking proactive steps in subsequent funding rounds to address this concern – such as requiring applicants to engage with their local electric utility prior to submitting an application – without creating an overly burdensome application process that could disadvantage under-resourced school districts.
The management implication report offered suggestions for additional safeguards to ensure EPA continues to distribute funds in line with the goals of the Program. We commend EPA’s ongoing efforts to ensure funds are allocated appropriately and in a timely fashion, including new steps it implemented for subsequent funding rounds, such as requiring additional oversight of third-party vendors and proactive engagement with school boards.
Following is a statement from Sue Gander, Director, WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative:
“The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program is a gamechanger for our children’s health. Diesel exhaust pollution is dangerous, and the overwhelming demand for electric school buses shows that school districts nationwide want to transition away from harmful diesel-burning school buses and protect their students. The success of the Clean School Bus Program is the main reason the number of electric school buses on the road or on their way to schools across the country has doubled since last year.
Last week’s U.S. EPA Office of the Inspector General reports make clear that by providing funding for school districts to bring clean rides to their communities, the Clean School Bus Program is delivering on the unprecedented demand for clean, zero-tailpipe-emission rides for students. It is also clear that enhancements already adopted or underway by EPA will help to further strengthen the performance and integrity of the Program.
We appreciate the efforts of the OIG in examining the Program for potential improvements. We look forward to continuing to work with EPA, school districts, transportation providers, manufacturers, electric utilities and communities to implement and enhance the Clean School Bus Program and bring the air quality, health and climate benefits of electric school buses to students nationwide.”
Contact: Tom Meyer