Selected districts can now move forward with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure.  -  File Photo: Wes Platt

Selected districts can now move forward with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure.

File Photo: Wes Platt

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced recipients of the first round of funding through the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates.

The EPA received about 2,000 applications seeking $4 billion for more than 12,000 buses, with submissions from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and federally recognized Native American tribes.

About 2,500 low- or zero-emission school bus replacements in 389 school districts are being funded through the rebate awards, made possible by the $5 billion investment in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Schools prioritized as low-income, rural, or tribal make up 99% of the selected projects. About 95% of the requested buses are electric.

“President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is accelerating our nation’s transition to electric and low-emission school buses while ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “As many as 25 million children rely on the bus to get to school each day. Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration, we are making an unprecedented investment in our children’s health, especially those in communities overburdened by air pollution. This is just the beginning of our work to build a healthier future, reduce climate pollution, and ensure the clean, breathable air that all our children deserve.”

First-Round Clean School Bus Recipients

The list of final selectees for 2022 includes:

  • Lion Electric on behalf of Fairfield City (Alaska) - $3.555M for 9 buses.
  • Thomas Built Buses on behalf of Compton Unified (California) - $9.875M for 25 buses.
  • Government of District of Columbia on behalf of District of Columbia Public Schools - $7.265M for 25 buses.
  • Blue Bird Body Company on behalf of Macon County (Georgia) - $1.975M for 5 buses.
  • Navistar, Inc., on behalf of Chattahoochee County (Georgia) - $1.58M for 4 buses.
  • Hawaii Department of Education - $4.99M for 25 buses.
  • Baltimore City Public Schools (Maryland) - $9.425M for 25 buses.
  • DATTCO, Inc., on behalf of New Bedford (Massachusetts) - $5.53M for 14 buses.
  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians on behalf of Choctaw Central High School - $3.66M for 12 buses.
  • Nuvve Holding Corp. on behalf of San Felipe-Del Rio CISD (Texas) - $7.505M for 19 buses.
  • Sonny Merryman, Inc., on behalf of Lynchburg City Public Schools (Virginia) - $9.875M for 25 buses.

The full list of 2022 recipients can be found on the EPA website.

Celebrating the Rebate Selectees

In a news release, Lion Electric praised the EPA for the apparent popularity of the Clean School Bus Program and the awarding of this first round of funding.

“It is fantastic to see these funds being awarded and we are excited to see the massive interest in clean school buses across all 50 states,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and founder of Lion Electric. “Lion would like to congratulate the EPA along with the awardees, who will soon benefit from the adoption of zero-emission school buses.”

Said Brendan Riley, president of GreenPower Motor Company: "The funding under the Clean School Bus Program will transform the nation's school bus fleet. Accelerating the transition to clean, zero-emission school buses will result in reduced pollutant levels and a healthier ride for kids."

Kevin Bangston, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses, said the EPA's support "allows us to accelerate electrification efforts across the nation."

The EPA originally had planned to award $500 million in rebates for 2022, but nearly doubled the amount after seeing so much demand for the opportunity. Another $1 billion is expected to be available for school bus fleet transformation in 2023.

Selected districts can now proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure. By October 2024, applicants must turn in their close-out forms. The amounts awarded now are maximum amounts, the EPA notes. Districts could end up spending less than the maximum.

In California alone, 21 schools and school districts are approved to replace 177 school buses with zero-emission models, according to a statement from U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla.

"This funding is a key step to help California and the nation reach our ambitious emission reduction goals to reduce the effects of climate change and to improve our children's health," Feinstein said.

Said Padilla: "Success in the classroom starts before children even get to school. Unfortunately, far too many children in working-class communities - like the one I grew up in - are forced to inhale harmful emissions from outdated diesel buses on the way to school. Today's announcement is a significant investment in modernizing school buses in some of the communities with the poorest air quality. If we are serious about improving public education and public health, then clean school buses are a must."

Ben Prochazka, executive director of the Electrification Coalition, released a statement saying that the nation's dependence on oil for transportation has jeopardized children's health.

"No vehicles are more critical to electrify than the school buses that expose our children to toxic emissions," Prochazka said. "On average, school buses only get seven miles per gallon of gasoline, and school buses use over 800 million gallons of diesel fuel each year, making them prime for electrification. Kids and parents can now breathe easier because clean school buses are coming to a school near you."

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