WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Praise for the Biden-Harris Administration’s Plan to Transform America’s School Buses
Yesterday, Vice President Harris and EPA Administrator Regan announced that 389 school districts from across all 50 states and U.S. territories will receive nearly $1 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace old diesel school buses with new clean school buses.
Electric school buses will ensure cleaner air in and around our communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect children’s health. They will also drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, boost domestic manufacturing, and create good paying union jobs. Thanks to the President and Vice President’s vision, the Clean School Bus Program will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses every day.
Political, business, and advocacy leaders from across the country praised the announcement. Here’s what they’re saying:
New York Senator Charles E. Schumer: “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law, as the wheels of the new, electric school busses go round and round, carbon emissions and pollution is gonna keep going down and down. Over $50 million will supercharge our efforts to fight climate change and power over 130 brand new electric buses to keep our air clean, kids safe and Upstate New York healthy. I am proud to deliver this tremendous environmental justice investment that will put our students on the road to a brighter future and a cleaner commute.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey: “Clean school buses ensure our children are breathing cleaner air, which will set them up with a brighter and healthier future. Thanks to the infrastructure law, school districts across Pennsylvania will be able to protect students’ health and save money, while helping to reduce greenhouse emissions. This is a commonsense solution that benefits our children, our schools, and the environment.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto: “I’m excited to see this funding for clean buses headed to Clark County schools. In addition to reducing air pollution and lowering fuel costs, these buses will help reduce harmful emissions across Las Vegas and keep our kids healthy. I’ll keep working to support innovative transportation solutions as well as create good-paying jobs in our booming clean-energy industries.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
California Senator Diane Feinstein: “Buses contribute heavily to air pollution and can harm children’s respiratory health. That’s why funding clean buses is absolutely critical. Thanks to $68 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law, these grants will support the purchase of 177 clean school buses across California school districts. 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.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich: “I am thrilled to welcome this first round of funding for the Clean School Bus Program. The clean energy and electrification investments that we secured in the Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act are by far the most significant steps that Congress has taken to spur the widespread deployment of highly-efficient, fully electric and climate pollution-free technologies. Modernizing the vehicles that transport New Mexico’s children to school–especially with clean and electric buses–will make our air cleaner and improve public health, and create important energy and fuel savings for public school districts. Electrifying our homes, buildings, and vehicles is one of the surest climate actions that we can take right now that will help secure a more equitable, healthier future for all our communities.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine: “Virginia students deserve buses that won’t accelerate climate change and pollute the air in their communities. This is one of many examples of how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which I helped pass last year, is going to make a real difference for Virginians across the Commonwealth and help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. I’m glad to see Virginia is receiving federal funding so that school districts can purchase more energy efficient school buses.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin: “Every West Virginian deserves clean air to breathe, and this Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investment for clean school buses in Boone, Wirt and Wyoming counties is great news for our entire state. The new buses will emit fewer pollutants linked with asthma and lung damage and will promote better air quality across the state, all while safely taking young West Virginians to and from school every day. Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver critical investments for the Mountain State, and I will keep working with the EPA to protect communities across West Virginia for generations to come.” [Press Release, 10/27/22]
Washington Senator Patty Murray: “Building new, clean electric buses and getting them on our roads is good for our kids, our economy, and our planet. That’s why for months, I pushed to pass my Clean School Bus Act. Because this is just one way we boost an economy-wide transition to clean energy. We’ll be making these clean buses here in America, creating good-paying jobs—all while promoting clean air and better health outcomes for our kids. It’s a win-win-win.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
California Senator Alex Padilla: “I have been proud to help lead the charge to transition our nation’s school bus fleet to zero- and low-emission models. 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.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Michigan Senator Gary Peters: “I’m proud to have supported the bipartisan infrastructure law that is now providing this funding to help replace school buses across Michigan. We need to be working to tackle climate change, improve air quality and protect our children’s health as they ride to school each day, and these low and zero-emission buses are a great step forward.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen: “I’m proud to announce Clark County Schools will receive nearly $10 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Senator Cortez Masto and I helped write and pass. This critical funding will invest in our schools’ transportation system while decreasing our carbon footprint.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow: “Electric school buses will make a big difference for schools across Michigan. This investment will improve air quality while helping our school districts cut their transportation costs and keep more resources in the classroom. It’s a great step to protect the health of our children and save schools money.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Virginia Senator Mark Warner: “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, school districts in Virginia are set to receive millions in funding for zero-emission and low-emission school buses that will help provide students with safe and reliable transportation to and from school. As we continue to look for ways to reduce pollution and combat climate change, I am glad to see this federal funding directed towards replacing old school buses with 21st century, eco-friendly equipment.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
Arizona Representative Raúl M. Grijalva: “In Arizona, we know how critical it is to transition to a clean and sustainable future and this clean energy bus award for Somerton Elementary will help make that possible. We owe our kids cleaner air, less climate pollution and a healthier learning environment. It has never been more apparent that the time to towards clean transportation options is now. I’ll continue to fight for programs that move away from dirty fossil fuels and will make clean and zero emissions the standard, not the exception.” [Press Release, 10/26/22]
State and Local Governments
Governor Sisolak, Nevada: Tweet: Good news: The @EPA awarded Nevada $9.875 million for @ClarkCountySch to adopt 25 electric school buses into its fleet – moving us closer to our goals to reduce our carbon footprint, improve air quality and better protect the health of our children and families. [Tweet, 10/26/22]
Governor Inslee, Washington: Tweet: “Thank you @VP for visiting us today to announce these exciting new investments to electrify school buses. Every kid in America – including the more than one million school children in Washington state — deserves a clean, electric bus to free them from breathing diesel fumes.” [Tweet, 10/26/22]
Mayor Bruce Harrell, Seattle: Tweet: Great to join @VP Harris, @EPAMichaelRegan & other leaders to highlight investments in low-emission school buses, supporting kids and communities. Seattle is committed to advancing bold climate solutions, and we welcome federal support to help build a sustainable future together. [Tweet, 10/26/22]
Mayor Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia Retweet: @DCPublicSchools: BIG NEWS: Today, @EPA announced a $1 billion investment in electric school buses — including $7.6M for DC. These funds will help DC have a 100% green school bus fleet. WH Senior Advisor @MitchLandrieu46 & officials delivered the news from John Lewis ES, a LEED Platinum school. [Tweet, 10/26/22]
Advocacy and Industry Leaders
Alliance for Electric School Buses: “The Alliance for Electric School Buses is excited to see this transformational program provide funding for hundreds of school districts across the country to purchase electric school buses. We are especially elated to see that over 90% of the winners will be investing in electric school buses, the cleanest and healthiest option for children.
These new electric buses will eliminate dangerous toxins in the air our children and communities breathe and reduce climate-harming pollution. For students and drivers, this means quieter rides, better health and fewer missed days of school or work due to preventable respiratory illnesses.
As we have noted previously, there is still urgent work to do to ensure this program prioritizes and reaches the communities breathing the dirtiest air and who desperately need relief: low-income communities and Black, Indigenous and communities of color. We also urge EPA to adopt measures for subsequent funding rounds that promote the creation of high-quality, family-sustaining jobs for school bus drivers, mechanics, manufacturing workers and electricians. We will continue pushing to secure funding, equitable financing and inclusive utility investment programs for school districts looking for additional opportunities to deploy electric school buses.
Today’s announcement is the result of years of advocacy by families, students and community members seeking federal funding to facilitate their local school districts investing in a clean ride for kids. Our coalition remains committed to helping school districts get electric school buses on the road. Together, we are driving the charge for pollution-free communities and healthier children.” [Statement, 10/26/22]
WE ACT for Environmental Justice: “WE ACT is happy to see nearly $1 million in this first round of federal funding from the Clean School Bus Program – double the amount that was first made available in May. The program provides a tremendous opportunity to reduce emissions and spur the transition to electric, zero-emission school buses as well as begin to clean the air and improve the health of millions of children, especially in overburdened communities that depend on the school bus transportation system.
We are even happier that a large percentage of this funding will go towards electric school buses in the EPA’s priority school districts. For many years, WE ACT has been advocating for clean air and transportation for communities overburdened by pollution. Most school buses run on diesel fuel, which emits nasty pollutants such as soot, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants that significantly worsen air quality within our communities and contribute to global warming. Air pollution is particularly harmful for the developing lungs of children, and children of color and in areas of low income in New York City experience its worst impacts. Neighborhoods in Northern Manhattan, for instance, have some of the highest death and disease rates from asthma in the nation, with childhood asthma in these communities of color being responsible for a disproportionately high number of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths.
The funding under the EPA Clean School Bus Program will go a long way in replacing diesel school buses with all-electric school buses and thus, improve air quality in New York City and the State, reduce children’s exposure to asthma-causing pollutants while also protecting the health of drivers and the communities these buses drive through. It will also help achieve New York State and New York City’s electric school bus mandates, both of which require school bus fleets to be fully electric by 2035. WE ACT looks forward to working with the EPA in the continued rollout of the Clean School Bus Program to ensure that funding for electric school buses goes towards communities that need it the most.” [Statement, 10/26/22]
Molly Rauch, Public Health Policy Director, Mom’s Clean Air Force: “Electric school buses are rolling your way! School districts in every state and the District of Columbia have been awarded federal funding for clean, electric school buses. Moms and dads celebrate this great news for our kids and our climate. Today’s announcement from EPA is the result of years of advocacy from members of Moms Clean Air Force and other allies dedicated to securing funding for a safe ride for our kids. Moms Clean Air Force worked tirelessly to connect that funding with school districts across the country, educating them about the importance of replacing dirty diesel buses with zero-tailpipe-pollution electric buses. Moms Clean Air Force helped districts through the application process. School response has been so great that the EPA has nearly doubled the funding to meet soaring demand. EPA had planned to award $500 million in rebates from the Clean School Bus Program this year. Today’s announcement indicates EPA is awarding $965 million to purchase 2,463 buses, 95% of which will be electric (as opposed to propane/gas). Every day, millions of US children ride iconic yellow school buses to and from school on what amounts to the nation’s largest public transportation fleet — about half a million vehicles. Almost all of these buses currently run on diesel engines, which spew carcinogenic and climate-warming pollution into the air our kids breathe. It doesn’t make sense to send our kids to school on buses that create brain-harming, lung-harming, cancer-causing, climate-harming pollution. Our kids, our bus drivers, and our communities deserve better. We know that communities burdened with the dirtiest air should be at the front of the line to benefit from clean, quiet, zero-tailpipe-pollution electric buses. As a member of the Alliance for Electric School Buses, Moms Clean Air Force will continue to advocate for a transition of the nation’s school bus fleet to electric models.” [Statement, 10/26/22]
Dr. Tiffany Tyler-Garner, Executive Director for Children’s Advocacy Alliance: “The Children’s Advocacy Alliance is beyond excited for Clark County School District’s historic opportunity to transition to electric school buses and clean rides for kids. Our latest Kids Count report shows that Nevada unfortunately lags behind in many key indicators of children’s health and well-being. Today’s EPA announcement and CCSD’s acceptance of nearly $10 million in electric school bus rebates is a giant step forward to reduce students’ exposure to harmful pollution. When our children thrive, Nevada thrives. [Statement, 10/26/22]
Ben Prochazka, Executive Director, Electrification Coalition: “Our national dependence on oil for transportation leads to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants that jeopardize our children’s health. Global oil markets are controlled by bad actors who manipulate price and supply. By contrast, electric school buses are powered by domestic energy, providing a cleaner, healthier ride to school for our kids. With significantly lower maintenance and costs to power the vehicles, electric school buses are also cheaper to operate, saving local school districts money.
No vehicles are more critical to electrify than the school buses that expose our children to toxic emissions. 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.
This $1 billion, nearly twice what the EPA had planned to distribute in the first stage of this five-year program, is a critical investment in our future. The funding will lead to cleaner air for our kids and reduced operating costs for our schools while reducing oil’s negative impact on our national and economic security.
The demand to electrify school buses is oversubscribed, with more than $4 billion in requests. While today’s announcement is a huge step forward, it’s clear that school districts in the U.S. are ready to get on the electric school bus! We look forward to working with school districts to support the implementation of these awards.
This move is a win for kids, a win for schools, and a win for our nation.” [Statement, 10/26/22]
Environment America: “Around the country, many children take the bus to get to school, and most of these buses are powered by diesel- over 95% of them. This can exacerbate problems like asthma and other respiratory issues in children, and it releases emissions that accelerate climate change. Electric buses, on the other hand, are much safer for children’s health and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions. While they can provide lifetime savings for school districts, they still tend to cost more upfront.
That’s what makes today’s announcement from the White House so exciting. The Biden-Harris administration released the list of which school districts will receive $913 million in funding to transition away from diesel buses for the fiscal year. 389 applicants in all 50 states, as well as several territories, registered tribes, and Washington, D.C. will receive funding from the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, primarily to purchase electric buses. The agency expects to distribute the full $965 million allotted for the year in the coming weeks. The program, created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will eventually distribute nearly $5 billion in funding over the next five years.” [Statement, 10/26/22]
Ryan Giunta, Transportation Campaigns associate for PIRG: “The demand is there. School districts across the country understand the opportunity they are presented with and that it’s time to take action. The funding provided by the federal infrastructure bill presents a massive opportunity to improve the health of our children by reducing air pollution and fighting back against the climate crisis.
Seeing that over 90% of this round’s applications were for electric buses is a great sign. Administrators know that electric buses are much cleaner and safer compared to their fossil fuel-powered counterparts.”
Eric Willadsen, Campaign Representative at Sierra Club: “We’re thrilled that so many children across the country will be hopping onto electric school buses thanks to the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program. Communities from coast to coast have urged school districts to invest in electric school buses that ensure better health for students and bus drivers alike. We’re grateful that EPA is making this a reality. And the momentum will continue in 2023 so that even more students will breathe easy on their way to school.” [Statement, 10/26/22]
World Resources Institute: “Today the #US@EPAannounced nearly $1 BILLION in Clean School Bus Program Funding – and due to overwhelming demand, 95% of school buses funded are #ElectricSchoolBuses! Read the @ESBInitiative statement on this historic moment: http://bit.ly/CSBP-awards” [Tweet, 10/26/2022]
Environmental Defense Fund: “The wheels on the bus go round and round, but the pollution is stopping. Electric school bus sales in the U.S. are booming! The transition is happening so fast, some advocates think America’s entire school bus fleet will be electric by 2030.” [Tweet, 10/26/2022]
Electric School Bus Initiative: “NEWS: Today the @EPA announced nearly $1 BILLION in Clean School Bus Program Funding – and due to overwhelming demand, 95% of school buses funded are #ElectricSchoolBuses!” [Tweet, 10/26/2022]
Evergreen Action: “Evergreen’s @jamalraadand his new assistant Eilis are behind the wheel in Seattle today at @VP Harris’ event announcing $1 BILLION in clean school bus funding!” [Tweet, 10/26/2022]
EcoMadres: “#ESBs produce zero tailpipe emissions, protecting students, drivers & communities from harmful air pollutants. We are thrilled @EPA has awarded electric school bus funding through the Clean School Bus Program!” [Tweet, 10/26/2022]
Chesapeake Climate Action Network: “@BaltCitySchoolswill be receiving over $9 million from the first round of @EPA’s Clean School Bus Program! These funds will go towards purchasing 25 #ElectricSchoolBuses & will provide benefits such as cleaner air for kids & and communities in Baltimore City!” [Tweet, 10/26/2022]
Environment Washington: “What an honor to be at @VPand @EPA‘s announcement of new federal program investing $5 bill in 5 years for clean electric school busses! WA will be getting 7 clean school busses this year. Let’s hear it for #cleanair#climateaction and #healthykids!” [Tweet, 10/26/2022]
Matthew Stevenson, President and CEO, Blue Bird Corporation: “Today’s historic funding announcement by the EPA accelerates the adoption of clean student transportation in the United States. It’s a major step to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and to put student and community health first. As the industry leader in zero- and low-emission school buses, Blue Bird continues to expand electric school bus production to 20 vehicles a day by the end of 2023 to meet increasing U.S. demand.” [Statement, 10/26/22]
Marc Bedard, CEO-Founder of Lion Electric: “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. Lion would like to congratulate the EPA along with the awardees, who will soon benefit from the adoption of zero-emission school buses. Lion saw the opportunity for all-electric school buses in the market over a decade ago, when we began developing our technology and started the zero-emission school bus revolution, and today we are seeing the results in large-scale adoption, for the benefit of the health of our children, our communities and the environment.” [Statement, 10/26/22]