Vice President Kamala Harris will announce aid to school districts across the country that will help buy nearly 2,500 school buses, most of which will be electric, the White House said. The funding is part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.
Speaking in Seattle on Wednesday, Harris said “the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will provide nearly $1 trillion to a total of 2,468 electric, low-emission buses in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and several tribal-run or tribal-serving schools,” he said. White House senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu in a Tuesday afternoon briefing. “The majority of these buses, 95% will be purely electric.”
In 12 states, Landrieu said, electric buses will be the first on the ground.
“This means Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire (with this funding) are reaching an incredible milestone,” he said.
While nearly all of the buses will be fully electric, “a very small number” will be powered by compressed natural gas or propane, Karl Simon, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Transportation and Climate Division, told reporters.
Simon said the administration will provide funds for the charging stations, but leaves it up to local communities to decide how those funds should be spent.
“For each electric bus, the agency allows them to spend up to $20,000 on electric vehicle infrastructure. So we really want to have a local conversation between the school district, the bus provider and the local utility,” Simon said.
Awardees will now work with school bus dealers and manufacturers to place orders for the new vehicles and submit the orders to the EPA, which will “get the money out very quickly,” Simon said. That process will be completed by April and then the manufacturers will deliver the buses “as soon as they can”.
The announcement is about to complete one year of the infrastructure law.
“We have launched unprecedented funding in this first project,” said Landrieu. “We’re taking millions of dollars out the door and tarnishing projects all over the country.”