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Biden administration kicks off $5 billion electrical Clear College Bus program

US Vice President Kamala Harris and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan are today launching the Clean School Bus program, a part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, from a high school in Falls Church, Virginia.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 authorizes the EPA to offer rebates to replace diesel school buses with what the EPA calls “clean and zero-emission (ZE) models.” Electric buses will be prioritized over alternative fuels.

The first round of the Clean School Bus Program funding will be awarded as lottery rebates. The lottery will prioritize applications from Prioritized School Districts – low-income, rural, tribal, and/or high-needs school districts.

School districts can apply now to receive the rebate, which will be sent to the manufacturer or dealer before the school district pays. Applications can request funds for up to 25 new electric school buses or the price differential between such buses and diesel buses. Details can be found here.

The EPA will award up to $500 million this year, and the deadline to apply for this year’s rebate program is August 19, 2022.

The Environmental Protection Agency explained in an announcement on its website:

With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s new Clean School Bus Program provides $5 billion over the next five years (FY 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. EPA is offering $500 million through the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates for zero-emission and low-emission school bus rebates as the first funding opportunity.

The Washington, DC-based global research nonprofit World Resources Institute’s Jennifer Rennicks, who is senior manager of government affairs for WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative, said in an emailed statement:

The long-standing commitment from Vice President Harris on this issue is an extraordinary testament to her efforts and this Administration’s pursuit of helping schools and communities join the transition to an electrified future. WRI applauds the EPA’s decision to prioritize funding for underserved districts. WRI looks forward to working with EPA to continue strengthening and improving the program for future rounds of funding.

US PIRG environment campaigns director Matt Casale said: 

Getting to school shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or make our children sick. And we shouldn’t continue to use dirty diesel buses when they are making the climate crisis worse. The opening of the Clean School Bus Program should be the end of air-polluting school buses as we know them.

The American Lung Association has called on Congress to invest $20 billion to transition one-fifth of all diesel school buses to electric to protect children’s health.

Read more: New York State commits to 100% electric school buses by 2035

Photo: Lion Electric Buses

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