The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected 67 applicants to receive nearly $1 billion through EPA’s first Clean School Bus Program Grants Competition. The awards, made possible through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, will help selectees purchase over 2,700 clean school buses in 280 school districts serving more than 7 million students across 37 states.
With this announcement, EPA’s Clean School Bus Program has awarded nearly $2 billion and funded approximately 5,000 electric and low-emission school buses nationwide.
“Every school day, 25 million children ride our nation’s largest form of mass transit: the school bus,” says Vice President Kamala Harris. “The vast majority of those buses run on diesel, exposing students, teachers, and bus drivers to toxic air pollution. Today, we are announcing nearly $1 billion to fund clean school buses across the nation. As part of our work to tackle the climate crisis, the historic funding we are announcing today is an investment in our children, their health, and their education. It also strengthens our economy by investing in American manufacturing and America’s workforce.”
“Today we’re once again accelerating the transition to electric and low-emission school buses in America, helping to secure a healthier future where all our children can breathe cleaner air,” says EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’ve sat next to students on their very first clean school bus ride, and their excitement reflects the power of good policy. Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, thousands more school buses will hit the road in school districts across the country, saving school districts money and improving air quality at the same time.”
“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law, as the wheels of the new, electric school buses go round and round, carbon emissions and pollution are going to keep going down and down,” adds U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. “I led the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law to passage so communities across the country will have the federal funding needed to combat climate change, and now, for the second year in a row, this major investment sets the wheels in motion to put new electric school buses on the road, curbing carbon emissions, decreasing pollution, and improving the air quality for students and communities across America.”
The Clean School Bus Program is having far-reaching effects across school districts and their surrounding communities. Air pollution from older diesel engines is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and can cause them to miss school. Phasing out these older diesel engines ensures cleaner air for students, bus drivers, school staff working near bus loading areas and the communities through which the buses drive each day.
In April 2023, EPA announced the availability of at least $400 million for its 2023 Clean School Bus Grants through a Notice of Funding Opportunity. The grant application period closed in August 2023 with an outstanding response from applicants seeking to purchase electric and low-emission school buses. Given the demand and large number of high-scoring applications, including applicants in low-income communities, EPA has nearly doubled the amount of funding that will be awarded this round to approximately $965 million.
After an extensive review process, the EPA Clean School Bus Program has selected the Notice of Funding Opportunity’s top tier applicants. Funds are slated to support the purchase of about 2,700 buses, 95% of which will be electric. EPA will distribute awards to selectees in 37 states. Prioritized school districts in low-income, rural and/or tribal communities make up approximately 86% of the projects selected for funding. The program 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.
EPA is currently accepting applications for the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program until January 31, 2024. EPA encourages applicants not selected for the 2023 Clean School Bus Grant Program — and those that did not apply — to participate in current and future funding rounds. Once the application period for the 2023 rebate program closes and the school districts selected are notified, school districts can proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure.
To learn more about the 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program, applicant eligibility, selection process and informational webinar dates for future rounds of funding, visit the program’s website.