Seattle (October 26, 2022) — Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the Fiscal Year 2022 recipients of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program rebate competition, awarding nearly $5 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to two school districts in Oregon. The grants will help school districts purchase over 14 clean school buses that will accelerate the transition to zero-emissions vehicles and produce cleaner air in and around schools and communities.
Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan will join school children, district leaders, and community members in Seattle, Washington, later today to make the announcement 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.
“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.”
“Every child should be able to travel to and from school without being exposed to dangerous toxins. By curbing the dangerous pollution emitted by existing school bus fleets, we will not only be supporting our students but also helping to address climate chaos, giving them a brighter future,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “I am happy kids in Banks and Prospect will be getting a cleaner and safer way to school.”
“No child riding a school bus should be forced to breathe polluted air on their way to and from school,” said Senator Ron Wyden. “The Clean School Bus Rebates Program adds up to cleaner air for children and their communities, lower costs for school districts, and an investment in the climate fight — and I’m glad to see kids in Prospect and Banks will be among the first to benefit from this innovative program.”
“More electric school buses will mean healthier students, healthier air, and a healthier planet,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Reducing students’ exposure to harmful carbon emissions during their trip to school is an important step toward developing healthier learning environments, lowering chronic absenteeism, and improving equity. I’m excited that the Banks School District will be able to participate in the transition to clean energy by upgrading their bus fleet with funds from the Clean School Bus Rebate program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
“Protecting children’s health is one of EPA’s most important responsibilities,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “Transitioning to electric school buses ensures the air children breathe at home, to and from school, and outdoors is clean. EPA is committed to reducing emissions and improving air quality for Oregon’s future generations.”
Today’s announcement includes funding for buses and infrastructure for districts in Banks and Prospect, in Oregon. Banks School District will receive $4,345,000 in funding for 11 electric school buses. Prospect School District will receive $1,185,000 in funding for three electric school buses.
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 the 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.
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.