US EPA Awards Another $1 Billion for Clean School Buses

The U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) kicked off the new year by announc­ing $1 bil­lion in grants to tran­si­tion school bus fleets away from diesel to elec­tric and low-emis­sion vehi­cles. The move comes as diesel emis­sions have been linked to high rates of asth­ma, can­cer, and school absen­teeism. The funds will be dis­bursed to 280 school dis­tricts serv­ing 7 chil­dren, 86 per­cent of which low-income, rur­al, and trib­al com­mu­ni­ties, which are more like­ly to suf­fer from high­er rates of air pol­lu­tion, writes Bet­sy Reed of the Guardian US.

“The new funds mean so far near­ly $2bn has been to add about 5,000 clean to schools across the coun­try. The pro­gram draws from the 2021 bipar­ti­san infra­struc­ture law that carved out $5bn to equip schools with clean bus­es over five years, and is part of a broad­er fed­er­al strat­e­gy that aims to spend 40% of invest­ments in envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice com­mu­ni­ties,” Reed .

The tran­si­tion away from diesel isn’t some­thing most school dis­tricts can afford with­out state or fed­er­al assis­tance. High upfront costs of elec­tric bus­es and the cost of installing charg­ing infra­struc­ture are pro­hib­i­tive for many. A full-size elec­tric bus costs three to four times as much as a diesel ver­sion.

Repub­li­can sen­a­tors from New York expressed as much in recent push­back against a new state man­date ban­ning the pur­chase of diesel bus­es start­ing in 2027. The state award­ed $100,000 in grants to assist with elec­tric school bus pur­chas­es, but the sen­a­tors say that’s nowhere near enough.

“With 45,000 school bus­es in the state, full con­ver­sion by 2035 will cost approx­i­mate­ly $20  bil­lion. The cost over and above what school dis­tricts already pay for bus­es is pro­ject­ed at between $8 bil­lion and $15 bil­lion statewide. These totals don’t even include the required infra­struc­ture upgrades includ­ing instal­la­tion of charg­ing , elec­tri­cal improve­ments, bus garage ren­o­va­tions and so on,” they wrote in a let­ter to Gov. Kathy Hochul last . They on the gov­er­nor to the man­date or com­mit to ful­ly fund­ing the con­ver­sion.

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