WASHINGTON — On Wednesday U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) and the Biden-Harris administration announced the Fiscal Year 2022 recipients of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program rebate competition, awarding over $9.4 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to the Baltimore City Public School System. The grant will help the school district purchase 25 electric school buses that will accelerate the transition to zero emissions vehicles and produce cleaner air in and around schools and communities.
“Taking the bus to school should not be a health hazard for our children,” said Senator Ben Cardin, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee (D-Md.). “Replacing City Schools’ diesel-powered, gas-guzzling, air-polluting school buses with zero- and low-emission vehicles is exactly the type of transformative investments Congress intended when we passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Clean and quiet school buses will improve air quality and public health. I’m excited to see these new vehicles in Baltimore and across the region, and I know our students will be, too.”
“From school buses to public transit, moving to cleaner, more efficient transportation not only replaces older and less safe vehicles, it’s also better for our environment and ultimately saves taxpayer dollars. That’s why we fought to invest in upgrading public transit in the infrastructure modernization law, and why we’re proud to deliver these funds to Baltimore City Public Schools to add more than 20 clean, zero emission school buses to their fleet,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who sits on the Senate Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee. “I’ll keep working to invest in cleaner and safer transit for all Marylanders.”
“President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is accelerating our nation’s transition to electric and low-emission school buses while ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “As many as 25 million children rely on the bus to get to school each day. Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration, we are making an unprecedented investment in our children’s health, especially those in communities overburdened by air pollution. This is just the beginning of our work to build a healthier future, reduce climate pollution, and ensure the clean, breathable air that all our children deserve.”
“This is an especially important announcement with October being Children’s Health Month,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “These rebates will ultimately help protect children’s health by replacing older school buses with newer, cleaner ones, and transitioning to a clean transportation future means cleaner air and less pollution for all of our communities.”
On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan announced nearly $1 billion in clean school bus grants nationwide and highlight how it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save schools money, 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.
In May, EPA announced the availability of $500 million for its Clean School Bus Program. Given overwhelming demand from school districts across the country, including in low-income communities, Tribal nations, and territories, EPA nearly doubled the amount of funding that will be awarded to $965 million. The rebate application period closed in August with an outstanding response from school districts seeking to purchase electric and low-emission school buses across the country.
At this time, the agency has selected 389 applications totaling $913 million to support the purchase of 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric. EPA will distribute awards to school districts in all 50 states, Washington D.C., along with several federally recognized Tribes and U.S. territories. School districts identified as priority areas serving low-income, rural, and, or Tribal students make up 99% of the projects that were selected. More applications are under review, and the agency plans to select more to reach the full $965 million in the coming weeks.
Those school districts who received an award can now proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure. Selectees will need to submit Payment Request Forms with purchase orders demonstrating they have ordered new buses and eligible infrastructure. EPA is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Transportation to provide school districts with robust technical assistance to ensure effective implementation.
These awards are the first $1 billion of a five-year, $5 billion program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA is also designing the next rounds of program funding to launch in the coming months, which will include an ambitious grant competition. Through future rounds of funding, EPA will make available another $1 billion for clean school buses in Fiscal Year 2023. EPA encourages school districts not selected in the first round of rebates – and those that did not apply this funding cycle – to participate in future rounds.
About the Clean School Bus Rebate Program
The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts and produce cleaner air. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and cause them to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities. Phasing out these diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities through which the buses drive each day. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will also help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling the climate crisis. The program will also save school districts money as they upgrade school bus fleets, replacing older, heavily polluting buses with brand new clean school buses, while freeing up needed resources for schools.
The 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates prioritize low-income, rural, and Tribal communities. The vast majority of applicants met the priority definition under the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates criteria, resulting in access to more funds for buses and electric vehicle infrastructure for schools in areas that need them the most. The program also delivers on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.