Near $1B investment awarded to 389 school districts through EPA’s Clean School Bus Program

Published on October 27, 2022 by Debra Flax

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On Wednesday, the Biden-Harris administration announced the 389 school districts that will receive nearly $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help purchase 2,463 clean school buses, 95 percent of which will be electric.

The Fiscal Year 2022 recipients, which span all 50 states and Washington, D.C. as well as several tribes and U.S. territories, were chosen through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program rebate competition. The goal of the program is to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles while producing cleaner air in and around schools and communities.

School districts identified as priority areas serving low-income, rural, and/or tribal students make up 99 percent of the projects selected.

“As many as 25 million children rely on the bus to get to school each day,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said. “Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration, we are making an unprecedented investment in our children’s health, especially those in communities overburdened by air pollution. This is just the beginning of our work to build a healthier future, reduce climate pollution, and ensure the clean, breathable air that all our children deserve.”

The investment is also expected to drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, boost domestic manufacturing, and create good-paying jobs, an EPA release stated.

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the organization that represents U.S. investor-owned electric companies, praised the announcement and said it would continue to work with the EPA to drive the deployment of new zero- and low-emissions school buses.

“The new clean energy and climate laws already are spurring innovation and helping to deploy more clean energy technologies in sectors across the U.S. economy,” EEI President Tom Kuhn said. “EEI and America’s investor-owned electric companies applaud the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for moving quickly to implement its Clean School Bus Program, which will help drive down emissions and improve local air quality in communities across the country.”

EPA announced the availability of $500 million for its Clean School Bus Program in May 2022. Due to an overwhelming response from districts across the country, the agency nearly doubled the amount of funding available to $965 million and closed the rebate application period in August.

The 389 applications selected were chosen through a lottery system and currently total $913 million. More applications are under review as the agency plans to select more districts to reach the full $965 million funding potential. EPA is also working with the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide the districts with technical assistance to ensure effective implementation.

These awards are the first in a five-year, $5 billion program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA will make available another $1 billion for clean school buses in Fiscal Year 2023 and the agency encourages any district not chosen this year to participate in future funding rounds.