EPA and State/Local Officials Celebrate Award of 14 Zero-Emission School Buses in New Bedford and New $400 Million Clean School Bus Opportunity
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
NEW BEDFORD, MASS. — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New England Regional Administrator David Cash joined elected officials and school leaders in New Bedford to celebrate the award of 14 zero emission school buses to the City of New Bedford. The buses were part of nearly $30 million of rebates awarded to Massachusetts school districts last year under President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that provided 76 zero-emission school buses in five Massachusetts communities. Under this program, the City of New Bedford received a rebate of more than $5.5 million for the 14 buses and charging infrastructure
Recently, EPA also announced $400 million in grants currently available for cleaner school buses, reducing harmful pollution and helping to protecting children's health, especially in communities already overburdened with air pollution. 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.
"President Biden's Investing in America agenda is delivering significant funding to Massachusetts school districts for clean electric school buses, with a particular focus on reducing air pollution in disadvantaged communities overburdened by dirty air," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "These zero-emission vehicles will help provide cleaner and healthier air for school children, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and save money for our communities. Investing in America means investing in communities so that a parent waiting at the bus stop with their kid is not worried what their child is breathing."
"Today is a day to celebrate! These new zero-emission school buses in New Bedford are an important investment in our children's future, and a powerful win for school districts. I'll keep fighting for green investments across Massachusetts to protect our planet," said U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.
"I am proud of this federal investment in green technology that will ensure New Bedford's students get to school safely and with minimal impacts on the environment – two goals worth celebrating as we look to the future," said U.S. Congressman Bill Keating.
"New Bedford has been at the forefront of investments in renewable energy for more than a decade -- from our nation-leading municipal solar programs, to our status as the staging port for America's first industrial-scale offshore wind project, to the electric vehicles already in use by our municipal fleets. We are proud today to continue that record of early adoption of these important technologies with the planned acquisition of electric school buses and are grateful for the federal support from the EPA and our congressional delegation, that has made this possible," said City of New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.
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 25 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.
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 through grants.gov after reading 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.