Under a new federal initiative, over 400 school districts from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as several tribes and U.S. territories, will get about $1 billion to buy around 2,500 “clean” school buses.
The Biden administration is offering the funds as part of a larger initiative to hasten the switch to zero-emission vehicles and lessen air pollution around communities and schools.
The funding winners are scheduled to be announced on Wednesday in Seattle by Vice President Kamala Harris and the Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan.
According to the White House, the new school buses, primarily electric, would improve kid health, save money, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Up to 25 million kids travel recognizable yellow school buses daily, and Regan claimed that a cleaner fleet would lead to a “healthier future” for the kids.
He remarked, “This is just the beginning of our work to… reduce climate pollution and ensure that all of our children have access to clean, breathable air.”
As of last year, only 1% of the 480,000 school buses in the country were electric, but the movement to get rid of conventional diesel buses has gained steam recently.
The federal Clean School Bus Program has funding for the new acquisitions, including $5 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure measure President Joe Biden signed last year.
Regan said in a statement that the clean bus program is “speeding up our country’s transition to electric and low-emission school buses while assuring a brighter, healthier future for our children.”
Due to what officials described as an extraordinary demand for electric buses around the nation, the EPA boosted its initial $500 million grant for clean buses to $965 million last month.
In the fiscal year that began on October 1st, an additional $1 billion is planned to be distributed.
Over 12,000 buses, primarily electric, were requested in over 2,000 applications, according to the EPA.
According to the EPA, 389 applications totaling $913 million were approved to help fund the purchase of 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric.
The remaining buses will be powered by propane or compressed natural gas.
99% of the projects chosen served low-income, rural, or tribal students in school districts designated as priority areas, According to the White House.
The EPA is currently reviewing further applications and intends to choose more winners in the upcoming weeks to award the whole $965 million.
From Wrangell, Alaska, to Anniston, Alabama, and Teton County, Wyoming, to Wirt County, West Virginia, districts are expected to get funding.
Major cities that received funding for clean school buses and Washington include New York, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Seattle.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Gov. Jay Inslee are scheduled to attend a ceremony in Seattle where Harris and Regan will present the honors.
Murray is facing off against Republican Tiffany Smiley in the race for reelection.