PRESIDENT BIDEN’S BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE LAW CREATES NEW EPA PROGRAM TO PROTECT CHILDREN’S HEALTH, REDUCE POLLUTION, AND BOOST AMERICAN MANUFACTURING By Ramona du Houx May 20, 2022 Riding the school bus is the safest way to get to school. But students exposed to diesel exhaust from school buses can experience adverse health effects. Diesel exhaust contains fine particles which can aggravate […]
PRESIDENT BIDEN’S BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE LAW CREATES NEW EPA PROGRAM TO PROTECT CHILDREN’S HEALTH, REDUCE POLLUTION, AND BOOST AMERICAN MANUFACTURING
By Ramona du Houx
May 20, 2022
Riding the school bus is the safest way to get to school. But students exposed to diesel exhaust from school buses can experience adverse health effects. Diesel exhaust contains fine particles which can aggravate asthma and cause lung damage. Children’s School Bus Exposure Study conducted by the California Air Resources Board characterizes the range of children’s exposures to diesel vehicle-related pollutants and other vehicle pollutants during their commutes to school by diesel school buses.
Countless parents worried for decades watching their children waiting for the school bus knowing toxic fumes swirled around their heads.
Using a grant from EPA’s “Clean School Bus USA” program, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is spearheaded a program that resulted in 300 school buses being retrofitted with pollution control equipment that will curb emissions of particulate matter (soot), carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. DEP is worked with 26 school districts on the project, making it the first statewide program of its kind in the country. That started in 2004 and continued during the Baldacci administration. It was the first step.
Finally, in 2022, the federal government is implementing an EOPA grant program for all electric school busses.
“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.”
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. EPA will continue to update this page with additional Clean School Bus Program funding information and educational resources.
EPA is accepting applications from May 20, 2022 until August 19, 2022. Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.
To learn more about the rebate programs, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates, visit www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus
Vice President Kamala Harris, Administrator Michael S. Regan and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu visited Meridian High School in Falls Church, Virginia to make the announcement and highlighted 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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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