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$5 Billion Clean School Program to Help Schools Ditch Diesel Buses for EV Alternatives

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it opened applications for a new funding initiative, the Clean School Bus Program, through which it aims to award $5 billion for the transition from diesel to electric buses in high-need school districts or low-income areas.
Schools can request funding to get electric buses 6 photos
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In the EV adoption age, school districts across the United States are also looking to embrace the transition to a more sustainable future by replacing existing diesel school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. But electric school buses don’t come cheap; they are actually 3-4 times more expensive than regular diesel buses, so that’s quite a financial burden for some school districts.

To help ease this burden, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael Regan launched phase one of the Clean School Bus program, which is part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This first phase is basically a rebate program that will operate as a lottery system, so all school districts that apply on time will be eligible for up to $375,000 in electric bus funds.

EPA has also published the list of prioritized School Districts for the Clean School Bus program, and it includes rural schools, tribal schools, low-income areas, and traditionally underserved school districts.

Officials promise to offer 5 billion dollars over the next five years (FY 2022-2026), but this initial phase’s budget is $500 million. Half of this amount will represent funding for zero-emission buses in 2022, while the remaining $250 million will be funds for clean school buses.

School districts applying for the rebate can request funds for up to 25 electric, CNG, or propane school buses. The deadline to submit applications for this year’s rebate program is August 19, 2022.

The need to ditch diesel school buses and replace them with electric models is best summarized by U.S. PIRG environment campaigns director Matt Casale, who stated, “Getting to school shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution or make our children sick. And we shouldn’t continue to use dirty diesel buses when they are making the climate crisis worse. The opening of the Clean School Bus Program should be the end of air-polluting school buses as we know them.”


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