Biden-Harris Administration Announces Over $48 Million from EPA’s Clean School Bus Program for Illinois School Districts
Historic investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law headed to all 50 states in effort to transform America’s school bus fleet
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the Fiscal Year 2022 recipients of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program rebate competition, awarding $48,315,000 from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to 15 school districts in Illinois. The grants will help school districts purchase 123 clean school buses that will accelerate the transition to zero emissions vehicles and produce cleaner air in and around schools and communities.
Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan joined schoolchildren, district leaders and community members in Seattle, Washington, later today to make the announcement and highlight how it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save schools money, and better protect children’s health. The investment will also drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, boost domestic manufacturing, and create good-paying jobs.
“President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is accelerating our nation’s transition to electric and low-emission school buses while ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “As many as 25 million children rely on the bus to get to school each day. 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.”
“By replacing older, heavily polluting buses, EPA is making clean school buses the American standard,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “Students deserve to live a life free from the burdens of pollution, just as they deserve to learn and grow in a healthy school environment.”
“The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program shows just what’s possible when we invest in clean, climate-friendly technologies. Illinoisans are hard at work building electric school buses, and this investment will help put those buses on the road in the school districts where it matters most,” said Sen. Dick Durbin. “This funding represents a crucial first step to giving every student a ride to school without breathing hazardous pollutants.”
“Increasing the number of zero-emission and low-emission school busses strengthens Illinois–-and protects the health of our children—by helping ensure our air is safer to breathe,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth. “I’m proud that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping to create a healthier, more environmentally-friendly future for our families and communities.”
“These new electric buses will reduce harmful pollution and ensure that Illinois students and communities have clean, breathable air,” said Rep. Robin Kelly. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering for communities in Illinois and the Clean School Bus Program is an example of how this funding is benefiting communities with clean energy alternatives and reduced long-term costs.”
"When Democrats passed the bipartisan infrastructure law and President Biden signed it, we were taking steps forward to create millions of good-paying jobs, rebuild our communities, and bring critical infrastructure funding home to our cities, towns and villages," said Rep. Cheri Bustos. "I'm thrilled that East Moline, Galesburg and Williamsfield will collectively receive more than $10 million in support for new low-emission school buses!"
Fifteen school districts in Illinois will receive funding. A total of 123 clean school buses will go to the state, 100% of which are electric.
In May, EPA announced the availability of $500 million for its Clean School Bus Program. Given overwhelming demand from school districts across the country, including in low-income communities, Tribal nations, and territories, EPA nearly doubled the amount of funding that will be awarded to $965 million. The rebate application period closed in August with an outstanding response from school districts seeking to purchase electric and low-emission school buses across the country.
At this time, the agency has selected 389 applications totaling $913 million to support the purchase of 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric. EPA will distribute awards to school districts in all 50 states, Washington D.C., along with several federally recognized Tribes and U.S. territories. School districts identified as priority areas serving low-income, rural, and, or Tribal students make up 99% of the projects that were selected. More applications are under review, and the agency plans to select more to reach the full $965 million in the coming weeks.
Those school districts who received an award can now 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. EPA is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Transportation to provide school districts with robust technical assistance to ensure effective implementation.
These awards are the first $1 billion of a five-year, $5 billion program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA is also designing the next rounds of program funding to launch in the coming months, which will include an ambitious grant competition. Through future rounds of funding, EPA will make available another $1 billion for clean school buses in Fiscal Year 2023. EPA encourages school districts not selected in the first round of rebates – and those that did not apply this funding cycle – to participate in future rounds.
About the Clean School Bus Rebate Program
The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts and produce cleaner air. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and cause them to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities. Phasing out these diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff working near the 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 also save school districts money as they upgrade school bus fleets, replacing older, heavily polluting buses with brand new clean school buses, while freeing up needed resources for schools.
The 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates prioritize low-income, rural, and Tribal communities. The vast majority of applicants met the priority definition under the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates criteria, resulting in access to more funds for buses and electric vehicle infrastructure for schools in areas that need them the most. The program also 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.