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The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting comments for a potential waiver of the Buy America preference for infrastructure investments under the Clean School Bus Program.

The waiver, open for comment until June 7, states that it would provide “a brief, time-limited public interest adjustment period waiver applicable to certain electric vehicle charging infrastructure equipment to avoid undue increases in the time and cost of a project, and to allow recipients and EPA to transition to new rules and processes.”

The Clean School Bus Program, funded with $5 billion under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, currently falls under the requirement that funded infrastructure projects use iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials produced in the United States. Guidance for the Buy America requirement allows for federal agencies to waive the preference in circumstances in which the agency’s head finds that:

  • Applying the domestic content procurement preference would be inconsistent with the public interest.
  • Types of iron, steel, manufactured products, or construction materials are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or of a satisfactory quality.
  • Or the inclusion of iron, steel, manufactured products or construction materials produced in the United States would increase the overall cost of the project by more than 25%.

The waiver under consideration here falls under the “public interest” umbrella. It would allow the EPA to work with the departments of Energy (DOE) and Transportation (DOT) to find a common approach for applying Buy America provisions to vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure.

“Suppliers are encouraged to take steps now that will better enable EPA to shorten the transitional waiver or narrow its applicability to rapidly encourage domestic sourcing,” the waiver states.

The EPA noted in the waiver proposal that some EV charging products currently on the market may meet the Buy America provisions: “Based on discussions with some suppliers and other relevant information, we believe that more products meeting this standard will be coming to market in the next year and beyond.”

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