Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chair of the Senate Education and Health Committee, has joined Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., and Reps. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., and Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., to introduce the Clean School Bus Act.
The legislation would provide $1 billion for grants to help school districts across the country replace traditional school buses with electric units. By reducing students’ exposure to diesel exhaust, the bill would significantly reduce students’ risk of asthma and other respiratory illnesses and provide long-term savings to school districts.
“As we work to ensure a brighter future for children in Washington state and across the country, it’s crucial for both the health of our students and the future of our planet that we invest in zero-emission transportation,” says Murray. “This legislation is good for the health of our students, our economy and our planet – and I look forward to working with my colleagues and Vice President Kamala Harris to pass this bill.”
Every day, more than 25 million children and thousands of bus drivers breathe polluted air during their commute to school, which has a negative impact on students’ health and academic performance – particularly for students with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Further, transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. With approximately 500,000 school buses on the road traveling over 3 billion miles per year, this bill will assist school districts in transitioning to cleaner buses that can accelerate the electrification of the nation’s school bus fleet. The legislation comes as school districts across Washington state are committing to electrifying their school bus fleets, including Seattle Public Schools.
The Clean School Bus Act will:
- Authorize $1 billion over five years at the Department of Energy to fund a Clean School Bus Grant Program to spur increased adoption of this clean technology
- Provide grants of up to $2 million to replace diesel school buses with electric school buses, invest in charging infrastructure and support workforce development. Right now, electric vehicle (EV) school buses cost significantly more than diesel, so it is cost-prohibitive to purchase EV buses
- Give priority to applications that serve students from families with low-incomes, replace the most polluting buses
The Clean School Bus Act was supported in 2019 by American Lung Association, California Association of School Transportation Officials, Chispa – Clean Buses for Healthy Niños, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Green for All, Hispanic Access Foundation, League of Conservation Voters, National Resources Defense Council, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, South Coast Air Quality Management District and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. This year it is also supported by the Environmental Defense Fund and the BlueGreen Alliance.