Biden-Harris Administration announces nearly $1B in awards for clean school buses across the nation as part of Investing in America Agenda
WASHINGTON – As part of its ongoing commitment to protecting children and improving air quality, today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the selection of 67 applicants to receive nearly $1 billion through EPA’s first Clean School Bus Program Grants Competition. The awards, which are made possible through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, will help selectees purchase over 2,700 clean school buses in 280 school districts serving over 7 million students across 37 states. By accelerating the transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles, these awards will improve air quality for children and their families and advance environmental justice, all while boosting the economy and creating good-paying jobs.
With today’s announcement, EPA’s Clean School Bus Program has awarded nearly $2 billion and funded approximately 5,000 electric and low-emission school buses nationwide.
“Every school day, 25 million children ride our nation’s largest form of mass transit: the school bus. The vast majority of those buses run on diesel, exposing students, teachers, and bus drivers to toxic air pollution,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “Today, we are announcing nearly $1 billion to fund clean school buses across the nation. As part of our work to tackle the climate crisis, the historic funding we are announcing today is an investment in our children, their health, and their education. It also strengthens our economy by investing in American manufacturing and America’s workforce.”
“Today we’re once again accelerating the transition to electric and low-emission school buses in America, helping to secure a healthier future where all our children can breathe cleaner air,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’ve sat next to students on their very first clean school bus ride and their excitement reflects the power of good policy. Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, thousands more school buses will hit the road in school districts across the country, saving school districts money and improving air quality at the same time.”
“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law, as the wheels of the new, electric school buses go round and round, carbon emissions and pollution are going to keep going down and down,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (NY). “I led the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law to passage so communities across the country will have the federal funding needed to combat climate change, and now, for the second year in a row, this major investment sets the wheels in motion to put new electric school buses on the road, curbing carbon emissions, decreasing pollution, and improving the air quality for students and communities across America. I am proud to deliver this tremendous environmental justice investment that will carry our students to a brighter future, emissions free.”
“The Biden Administration continues to honor their commitment to the health and wellbeing of our children by investing in the transformation of our national school bus fleets with zero-emission and low-emission models,” said Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29). “With nearly $1 billion in investment already made, school districts in rural and urban America have eagerly taken advantage of this program. Through this latest round of investment, even more school districts will be able to provide cleaner air for students, school staff, and for the communities they serve.”
“Since I came to Congress in 2019, I have advocated for clean school bus funding and tirelessly fought for inclusion in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Educators know how damaging diesel exhaust can be for students and our communities. The nearly $1 billion investment, announced by the Biden-Harris Administration today, will save Connecticut school districts money, create good-paying clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protecting people and the planet. It is great to see how these efforts will impact over seven million students across the nation. This is a huge win for our state and our country.” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05).
The Clean School Bus Program is having far-reaching effects across school districts and their surrounding communities. Air pollution from older diesel engines is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and can cause them to miss school. Phasing out these older diesel engines, which disproportionately affect communities of color and Tribal communities, ensures cleaner air for students, bus drivers, school staff working near bus loading areas, and the communities through which the buses drive each day.
In April 2023, EPA announced the availability of at least $400 million for its 2023 Clean School Bus Grants through a Notice of Funding Opportunity. The grant application period closed in August 2023 with an outstanding response from applicants seeking to purchase electric and low-emission school buses. Given the overwhelming demand and large number of high-scoring applications, including applicants in low-income communities, EPA has nearly doubled the amount of funding that will be awarded this round to approximately $965 million. These awards follow over $875 million obligated to new buses from the Clean School Bus Program’s 2022 Rebates, which funded the replacement of 2,366 buses at 372 school districts to further improve air quality in and around schools, advance environmental justice, reduce greenhouse gas pollution fueling the climate crisis, and accelerate America’s leadership in developing the clean vehicles of the future.
After an extensive review process, the EPA Clean School Bus Program has selected the Notice of Funding Opportunity’s top tier applicants to receive this historic investment in their community. Funds are slated to support the purchase of approximately 2,700 buses, 95% of which will be electric. EPA will distribute awards to selectees in 37 states. Prioritized school districts in low-income, rural, and/or Tribal communities make up approximately 86% of the projects selected for funding. The program delivers on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.
Proactive and ongoing communication with key stakeholders, like school boards and local utilities, is critical to successful bus and infrastructure deployment. To ensure the successful implementation of the selected projects funding electric buses and charging infrastructure, EPA has created a Utility Partnership Template which encourages early and robust engagement between the applicant and their utility company. Additional details can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity on the Clean School Bus Program website.
Grantees will work with their EPA Regional Project Officers to finalize project plans and purchase their awarded new buses and eligible infrastructure. EPA is also partnering with the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to provide grantees with robust technical assistance to ensure effective implementation.
EPA’s $5 billion Clean School Bus Program, created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, includes both a grant program where selected applicants are awarded funds to purchase buses, and a rebate program that allows selectees to receive awards before purchasing eligible buses that replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models. Today’s Clean School Bus grants are the second round of selections announced for the newly created program. EPA will make more funds available for clean school buses in additional rounds of funding.
EPA is currently accepting applications for the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program until January 31, 2024. EPA encourages applicants not selected for the 2023 Clean School Bus Grant Program – and those that did not apply – to participate in current and future funding rounds. Once the application period for the 2023 rebate program closes and the school districts selected are notified, school districts can proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure. Selectees will need to submit Payment Request Forms with purchase orders demonstrating they have ordered new buses and eligible infrastructure. After the selectees submit the proper forms, they will be eligible to receive rebate funds. All selectees must submit a Utility Partnership Agreement to verify that the school district’s electric utility provider is aware of the school district’s rebate application.
To learn more about the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates for future rounds of funding, visit the Clean School Bus Program website. Questions about applying for funding may be directed to email@example.com. Questions about Clean School Bus Program technical assistance may be directed to CleanSchoolBusTA@nrel.gov.
About the Clean School Bus Program
EPA’s Clean School Bus Program was created under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provides an unprecedented $5 billion of funding to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses. The Clean School Bus Program funds clean school buses, including electric buses, compressed natural gas, and propane buses that produce zero tailpipe emissions compared to their older diesel predecessors, with a requirement that at least half of the funding go toward zero-emitting school buses.
The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts, and produce cleaner air. Air pollution from older diesel engines, which disproportionately impact communities of color and Tribal communities, is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and can cause them to miss school. Replacing these older diesel engines with zero- or low-emission buses will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, school staff working near bus loading areas, and the communities through which the buses drive each day.
The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will also help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling the climate crisis. The program will benefit school districts as they upgrade to cost saving and fuel-efficient school bus fleets, by replacing existing buses with brand new zero-emission and clean school buses and freeing up needed resources for schools.
For more information, please email CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.