Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Year : 1, Issue : 19
The US has announced nearly $1bn in grants to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric and lower-emitting vehicles.
The Environmental Protection Agency will disburse funds to 280 school districts serving 7 million children across the country in an effort to curb harmful air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Today we’re once again accelerating the transition to electric and low-emission school buses in America, helping to secure a healthier future where all our children can breathe cleaner air,” the EPA administrator, Michael Regan, said in a statement.
Diesel emissions have been linked to higher rates of asthma, cancer and school absenteeism. Communities of color and people living in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to suffer from higher rates of air pollution.
Eighty-six per cent of grant recipients are in school districts that serve low-income, rural and tribal communities, according to the EPA. The new funds mean so far nearly $2bn has been awarded to add about 5,000 clean buses to schools across the country. The program draws from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law that carved out $5bn to equip schools with clean buses over five years, and is part of a broader federal strategy that aims to spend 40% of investments in environmental justice communities.
But the Biden administration’s efforts to phase out diesel school buses could be stalled by the limited infrastructure that exists for charging electric vehicles. According to a recent report by EPA’s office of inspector general: “The increased demand on utility companies may impact the timeliness of replacing diesel buses.”
Some states have also been pushing back on completely phasing out their diesel school fleets. In a letter to New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul, Republican senators expressed concern over the new state mandate that bans the purchase of diesel buses starting in 2027.