Biden-Harris Administration Makes $500 Million Available for Clean School Buses Through EPA
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Creates New EPA Program to Protect Children’s Health, Reduce Pollution, and Boost American Manufacturing
WASHINGTON (May 20, 2022) — Today the Biden-Harris Administration through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $500 million is now available for school districts and other eligible school bus operators and contractors to begin replacing the nation’s fleet of school buses with clean, American-made, zero-emission buses. This $500 million represents the first round of funding out of the unprecedented $5 billion investment for low and zero-emission school buses over the next five years, secured through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Administrator Michael S. Regan and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu will visit Meridian High School in Falls Church, Virginia to make the announcement and highlight how it will reduce greenhouse gas pollution, provide cleaner air around schools and communities, 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.
“This historic investment under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will forever transform school bus fleets across the United States,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These funding opportunities to replace older, heavily-polluting buses will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses, many of whom live in overburdened and underserved communities. Today we take a major step toward a future where clean, zero-emissions school buses are the American standard.”
Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities. New, zero-emission and low-emission buses will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but produce cleaner air for students, bus drivers, school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities that the buses drive through each day. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on fueling climate change. In addition, zero-emission buses cost less for school districts to operate than diesel buses, and the electricity stored in zero-emission school buses can transmit energy back to the grid to meet extra energy demand or provide energy to communities during power outages.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allows EPA to prioritize applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, Tribal Schools, and rural areas. This approach supports President Biden’s Justice40 initiative to direct at least 40% of the benefits of certain government investments to underserved communities. EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will strive to meet this commitment and advance environmental justice and equity considerations into all aspects of our work. In addition, EPA will focus education and outreach efforts to underserved communities, including partnering with stakeholders to reach communities that may have never applied for a Federal grant or rebate. Portions of the rebates can also be used to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure so that schools can make chargers available for the new buses. The rebate program will select awardees through a lottery system.
“Every dollar we invest in clean school buses means cleaner air, healthier students, and a brighter future for our nation. That’s exactly why we fought to include historic funding for electric and other zero-emitting clean school buses in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, targeting schools that serve our most vulnerable children,” said Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Tom Carper. “For those of us who have spent years working to clean up our nation’s school buses, we know there are millions of dirty buses that need replacing, especially in our most disadvantaged communities. Today’s announcement represents real potential progress in terms of cleaner air for all and a better economy. American-made clean school buses are good for communities, good for our economy, and good for our planet—a true win-win-win.”
“Right now, most school buses are powered by dirty diesel engines that exacerbate climate change and emit dangerous air pollution. With these funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are beginning to change that, paving the way for cleaner air and healthier communities – especially for frontline communities who are at greater risk,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. “These investments will also help spur the development and deployment of American-made clean technology, creating more good paying jobs right here at home. This is a win for our economy, our environment, and most of all, our nation’s children, all of whom deserve to breathe clean, safe air.”
“Too many American children are forced to breathe dirty air on their commutes to and from school. This announcement is a major down payment on ensuring that our children and grandchildren can experience pollution-free rides,” said House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko. “I’m proud that our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes this investment, driving innovation, creating good jobs, reducing pollution, and prioritizing communities that need the help most. I’m heartened by today’s announcement that will set us on a path to build a cleaner, healthier, better world for our kids.”
“Clean air for our children is fundamental to their healthy development and success in life. Clean, quiet, and pollution-free electric school buses will improve air quality and the lives of our kids. Electrifying medium- and heavy-duty vehicles also is a key strategy to reduce transportation costs, improve quality of life in communities, protect public health, and tackle the climate crisis,” said House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor. “I applaud Administrator Regan’s efforts to implement the groundbreaking funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
EPA is accepting applications from May 20, 2022 until August 19, 2022. Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.
This is the first competition that EPA is running through the Clean School Bus program. The Agency will also launch a grant competition later this year. Further Clean School Bus competitions funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be run every year over the next five years.
To learn more about the rebate programs, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates, visit www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus