EPA Region 10 (Pacific Northwest)

05/18/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/18/2023 10:06

EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman Joins Clayton County Officials to Announce $400 Million in Grant Funding for Clean School Buses

EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman Joins Clayton County Officials to Announce $400 Million in Grant Funding for Clean School Buses

May 18, 2023

Contact Information
EPA Region 4 Press Office ([email protected])
(404) 562-8400
ATLANTA (May 18, 2023)- At an event yesterday at the Michelle Obama STEM Elementary Academy in Hampton, Georgia, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman highlighted the availability of at least $400 million in grants for cleaner school buses across the country. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply through August 22, 2023. This latest funding from the President's Investing in America Agenda follows nearly $1 billion for thousands of electric and low-emission school buses across the nation, including $9,875,000 million that Clayton County Public Schools was selected to receive last year to replace 25 old diesel buses with new electric ones.

"Residents of Clayton County will experience cleaner air through lifetime emission reductions of 9,375 tons of CO2 for the 25 electric school buses provided to Clayton County school system by the Biden-Harris Administration, and its commitment to invest in America through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. "I hope to see this success replicated in communities across the Southeast so that children - especially those in our must vulnerable communities - will breathe cleaner, healthier air as they travel to and from school each day."

Under President Biden's Investing in America agenda, funding from EPA's Clean School Bus Program will improve air quality in and around schools and communities, save schools money, create good-paying clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, protecting people and the planet.

The new grants are made possible by President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides an unprecedented $5 billion to transform the nation's fleet of school buses. This is the first round of funding available as grants and follows the nearly $1 billion the Biden-Harris Administration awarded through the rebate competition last year to fund electric and low-emission school buses across school districts.

"These upgraded school buses will help kids across Georgia get to school more safely and reduce air pollution," Senator Jon Ossoff said. "I thank President Biden, Administrator Regan, and Southeast Regional Administrator Blackman for their support. These upgrades are possible thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law we passed last Congress."

"I championed the Clean Bus Program when we passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I am thrilled to see these critical funds invested in Georgia to help further cement our state as a leader in the clean energy economy," said Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock. "Our children deserve clean, healthy transportation on the road to a better education, and I'm going to keep fighting to direct more critical investments to my state to modernize transportation, protect our environment, and support good-paying jobs."

Regional Administrator Blackman was joined by Clayton County officials and partner organizations who highlighted the benefits of the Clean School Bus program.

"The health and safety of the children of Clayton County are of paramount concern for the leadership of our school district," said Dr. Anthony W. Smith, Interim Superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools. "We join the Environmental Protection Agency and these various partner agencies in supporting initiatives that will put more electric school buses on our roads as a way of reducing potentially harmful emissions. We must do all we can to create a better tomorrow, today for our students."

"Electric school buses provide multiple benefits to our communities-cleaner air, reduced oil use and operational and fuel savings," said Anne Blair, Senior Director of Policy, Electrification Coalition. "For too long, our children have been paying the price of dirty diesel school buses. Right now we have an opportunity to significantly shift Georgia's school bus fleet to cleaner buses by taking advantage of historic levels of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We encourage Georgia's leaders to stand up and take advantage (and supplement) this funding. It's time that all of Georgia's children get a cleaner and healthier ride to school."

"Hundreds of thousands of children in Georgia ride diesel-powered buses to get to and from school each day. This means that they are exposed to toxic diesel pollution every day of the school year. But, thanks to EPA's Clean School Bus funding, this is poised to change," said Lux Ho, Moms Clean Air Force Georgia State Coordinator. "The state has already been awarded 127 electric school buses through last year's rebate program, including 25 right here in Clayton County. As a lifelong Georgian, and former Clayton County Public Schools student, I couldn't be happier to see this progress toward a healthier future, and I'm looking forward to seeing how many more zero-pollution buses come to the state with the support of this next round of funding from EPA. Let's leave diesel pollution in the rearview!"

"Our children's health and well-being should be at the forefront of our priorities. Diesel fumes from Georgia's aging school buses contain harmful pollutants that have been linked to respiratory issues, asthma, and developmental problems in children, resulting in missed school and lower test scores. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the EPA' grants are providing an unparalleled opportunity for school districts to transition tired school bus fleets to clean energy," said Tanya Coventry-Strader, Executive Director, Mothers and Others for Clean Air. "By converting their old diesel buses to clean electric buses, Clayton County School District is leading the way and creating a safer and healthier environment for students, bus drivers and faculty. Mothers and Others for Clean Air are working with other Georgia school districts to encourage them to plan for a transition to clean school buses while this funding support is available. We hope many will follow Clayton County's lead in ensuring their children have the best chance to thrive and succeed in school."

About the Clean School Bus Grant Competition

The $400 million grant opportunity through EPA's Clean School Bus Program will fund electric, propane, and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses that will produce either zero or low tailpipe emissions compared to their older diesel predecessors.

These emission reductions will result in cleaner air for students riding the buses, bus drivers, school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities the buses drive through each day. Beyond the community, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacement projects will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on climate change.

EPA is prioritizing applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, Tribal school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or those receiving basic support payments for students living on Tribal land, and rural areas. In addition, EPA is committed to ensuring the Clean School Bus Program delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration's Justice40 Initiative to ensure that at least 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Large school districts with communities of concentrated poverty also will be prioritized if their proposal focuses on clean school buses serving those communities.

Eligible applicants for this funding opportunity are (1) state and local governmental entities that provide bus service; (2) public charter school districts, (3) Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, or Tribally-controlled Schools, (4) Nonprofit School Transportation Associations, and (5) Eligible Contractors (including OEMs, Dealers, School Bus Service Providers, and Private Bus Fleets).

Applicants have two options to apply:

  1. Applicants seeking to serve a single school district can apply through the School District Sub-Program to request a minimum of 15 school buses and up to a maximum of 50 school buses.
  2. Applicants seeking to serve at least four school districts can apply through the third-party Sub-program to request between 50 school buses and up to a maximum of 100 school buses.

EPA will provide a combined funding amount to cover both bus and infrastructure costs for all awardees requesting electric school buses. Prioritized applicants may apply for up to $395,000 when applying for larger school buses and associated infrastructure, and other applicants may apply for up to $250,000 for larger school buses and associated infrastructure. To encourage federal funding to support the replacement of as many buses as possible, EPA will also offer points in the competition to those who can offer voluntary funding through public-private partnerships, grants from other entities, or school bonds.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing federal dollars in a responsible way that drives high-quality job creation and inclusive economic growth. EPA worked closely with the Department of Labor to ensure this program also supports the workforce needed to support a clean energy economy. Applicants will be asked to describe their plans to conduct workforce planning to ensure current drivers, mechanics, and other essential personnel receive training to safely operate and maintain the new buses, as well as clarify protections to ensure existing workers are not replaced or displaced.

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure must be installed by electricians certified by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) or a comparable program approved by the Department of Labor. Funding from the Clean School Bus program can also be used to support workforce training and certifications such as EVITP. EPA is also working with clean school bus manufacturers to improve transparency around the high-quality jobs being created across the country.

This 2023 Grant Program is separate from the earlier 2022 Rebate Program, and interested applicants must apply to the Grant Program if interested in this funding opportunity. Grant applicants may submit proposals after the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) which is publicly posted at EPA's Clean School Bus Program webpage. This is a competitive program where applicants will be scored based on how well their proposal meets the criteria set forth within the NOFO. Questions about applying may be directed to [email protected].

President Biden's Investing in America agenda is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out - from rebuilding our nation's infrastructure, to creating a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good-paying jobs that don't require a four-year degree, to building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

To learn more about the grant program, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates, visit EPA's Clean School Bus Program webpage.