WASHINGTON, D.C. — A handful of federal lawmakers introduced legislation last week that would help school districts across the U.S. replace diesel buses in their fleets with electric buses.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris led Senators Jeff Merkley, Dianne Feinstein, Cory Booker, Tina Smith, Bernie Sanders, and Catherine Cortez Masto in introducing the Clean School Bus Act, a grant program that would provide funding of up to $2 million to replace diesel school buses with electric school buses, according to a news release from Harris’s office. The bill would also cover charging infrastructure, and support training on the maintenance, charging, and operation of the buses.
The Clean School Bus Act would prioritize applications that serve lower-income students, replace buses that produce the most pollution, and leverage the funding to further decrease pollution and emissions, including through partnerships with local utilities. Additionally, it would authorize $1 billion over five years at the U.S. Department of Energy to boost adoption of the technology.
The Clean School Bus Act is supported by the California Association of School Transportation Officials; California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District; the American Lung Association; the League of Conservation Voters’ CHISPA – Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign; and the Environmental Law and Policy Center, among other organizations, according to Harris's office.
“Our children deserve a healthy environment to learn and grow: at school, at home, and everywhere in between,” Harris said of the bill. “We know that students are breathing polluted air on their way to school, and we know that burden falls disproportionately on low-income students and students of color. We must take action to protect them. Electrifying the nation’s school bus fleet will clean the air our students breathe and help fight the climate crisis that threatens their futures.”
“Electric school buses are already being used to transport students — like the electric school bus in Lakeville, Minnesota — and cutting down on emissions improves our health and our environment,” Sen. Tina Smith added. “This is a good thing, but we know even more schools want to make this kind of investment. If we’re going to make it more feasible for schools to move to electric vehicles, we need to pass this bill.”