Biden-Harris Administration Announces $400 Million Grant Program to Fund Clean School Buses that Reduce Emissions and Protect Children’s Health
Latest funding from the President’s Investing in America Agenda follows nearly $1 billion for thousands of electric and low-emission school buses across the nation
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of at least $400 million in grants for cleaner school buses, reducing harmful pollution and protecting children’s health. Under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, funding from EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will improve air quality in and around schools and communities, save schools money, create good-paying clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, protecting people and the planet.
The grants are made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides an unprecedented $5 billion to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses. This is the first round of funding available as grants and follows the nearly $1 billion the Biden-Harris Administration awarded through the rebate competition last year to fund electric and low-emission school buses across school districts.
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, Senator Bob Casey (PA) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08) announced the funding in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, where the local school district is set to receive 15 new electric buses thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda.
“Today we’re taking another key step toward reducing climate pollution and building a healthier future where all of our children have the clean, breathable air that they deserve,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is already transforming school bus fleets across the nation, passing on cost savings to districts while improving air quality. With new grant funding available, we will accelerate our work to transition to electric and low-emission school buses further and faster than ever before.”
“President Biden and Vice President Harris believe our kids deserve cleaner school buses, which will improve the health of communities and reduce emissions,” said Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President and White House Infrastructure Coordinator. “Communities will also benefit from cleaner air and energy savings by replacing old, dirty diesel school buses with cleaner alternatives.”
“Clean school buses mean that students are breathing cleaner air and districts are saving money. This commonsense solution is a win-win,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (PA). “With more grants to come this year and in the years to follow, more communities in Pennsylvania and across the Nation will get this opportunity to set students up for a healthier and brighter future — all thanks to the infrastructure law.”
“Running these clean, green buses will reduce harmful pollution, improve air quality in and around schools and communities, save money and reduce greenhouse gas pollution,” said U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08). “This unprecedented investment will protect the safety and well-being of our most treasured resources: our children and our planet.”
About the Clean School Bus Grant Competition
The $400 million grant opportunity through EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will fund electric, propane, and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses that will produce either zero or low tailpipe emissions compared to their older diesel predecessors.
These emission reductions will result in cleaner air for students riding the buses, bus drivers, school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities the buses drive through each day. Beyond the community, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacement projects will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on climate change.
EPA is prioritizing applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, Tribal school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or those receiving basic support payments for students living on Tribal land, and rural areas. In addition, EPA is committed to ensuring the Clean School Bus Program delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative to ensure that at least 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Large school districts with communities of concentrated poverty also will be prioritized if their proposal focuses on clean school buses serving those communities.
Eligible applicants for this funding opportunity are (1) state and local governmental entities that provide bus service; (2) public charter school districts, (3) Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, or Tribally-controlled Schools, (4) Nonprofit School Transportation Associations, and (5) Eligible Contractors (including OEMs, Dealers, School Bus Service Providers, and Private Bus Fleets).
Applicants have two options to apply:
- Applicants seeking to serve a single school district can apply through the School District Sub-Program to request a minimum of 15 school buses and up to a maximum of 50 school buses.
- Applicants seeking to serve at least four school districts can apply through the third-party Sub-program to request between 50 school buses and up to a maximum of 100 school buses.
EPA will provide a combined funding amount to cover both bus and infrastructure costs for all awardees requesting electric school buses. Prioritized applicants may apply for up to $395,000 when applying for larger school buses and associated infrastructure, and other applicants may apply for up to $250,000 for larger school buses and associated infrastructure. To encourage federal funding to support the replacement of as many buses as possible, EPA will also offer points in the competition to those who can offer voluntary funding through public-private partnerships, grants from other entities, or school bonds.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing federal dollars in a responsible way that drives high-quality job creation and inclusive economic growth. EPA worked closely with the Department of Labor to ensure this program also supports the workforce needed to support a clean energy economy. Applicants will be asked to describe their plans to conduct workforce planning to ensure current drivers, mechanics, and other essential personnel receive training to safely operate and maintain the new buses, as well as clarify protections to ensure existing workers are not replaced or displaced.
Electric vehicle charging infrastructure must be installed by electricians certified by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) or a comparable program approved by the Department of Labor. Funding from the Clean School Bus program can also be used to support workforce training and certifications such as EVITP. EPA is also working with clean school bus manufacturers to improve transparency around the high-quality jobs being created across the country.
This 2023 Grant Program is separate from the earlier 2022 Rebate Program, and interested applicants must apply to the Grant Program if interested in this funding opportunity. Grant applicants may submit proposals after the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) which is publicly posted at EPA's Clean School Bus Program webpage. This is a competitive program where applicants will be scored based on how well their proposal meets the criteria set forth within the NOFO. The Clean School Bus Grant Program will be open for 120 days and close on Tuesday, August 22, 2023. Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to creating a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, to building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.
To learn more about the grant program, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates, visit EPA's Clean School Bus Program webpage.
Here is what they are saying about the Clean School Bus grant program:
As the wheels of the new, clean school buses go round and round, carbon emissions and pollution is gonna keep going down and down,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (NY). “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law I led to passage as majority leader, over $400 million in grants are now available to help transform school bus fleets across America and put our students on the road to a brighter future and a cleaner commute. I am proud to announce this funding that will accelerate our transition to electric and low-emission school buses, fighting climate change and ensuring our kids have the clean breathable air they deserve.”
“Investments in clean school buses are investments in cleaner air, healthier communities, and good-paying jobs,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper (DE), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Thanks to the historic funding that we provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA has been able to supply school districts across our country, especially those in communities most impacted by pollution, with grants to purchase American-made clean school buses. Today’s announcement represents another step forward in our fight to reduce our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than a quarter of which come from the transportation sector.”
“With more than 400,000 diesel school buses on the road, investments in clean transit solutions are critically important. By expanding the national clean school bus fleet, we are taking a significant step in improving public health and reducing childhood asthma,” said U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes (CT-05). “I am pleased the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing the 2023 Clean School Bus Grant Program to help more communities nationwide transition to electric school buses. This $400 million grant program will give school districts the resources needed to finally achieve low or no emissions school buses across the country. I look forward to working with the Administrator on this effort and am committed to ensuring students have clean and safe commutes to school.”
“Last year, under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, Democrats made historic investments to deliver clean energy and improve air quality by passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act,” said U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas (CA-29). “The IIJA included the Clean School Bus Program, an initiative I led in Congress, to replace old diesel buses with new, cleaner buses. I am proud to join Administrator Regan in announcing this $400 million grant program, which will help meet the growing demand for school bus electrification. Children in communities like the one I grew up in are more likely to be exposed to polluted air, leading to higher rates of respiratory illnesses. This grant program is necessary to ensure healthier, cleaner futures for our children — no matter their zip code. With this announcement, the Biden-Harris Administration is demonstrating to the American people that they will continue prioritizing the health and well-being of our children, building a cleaner and better future, and investing in America.”