EPA meets with partners in Aurora to usher in next generation of clean, zero- and low-emission school buses in Colorado
EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe joined by Governor Jared Polis, Aurora Public Schools Chief of Staff Mark Seglem and other partners to highlight $500 million in available funding for clean school buses
Aurora, Colo. – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe and EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker met with partners at Aurora Public Schools’ Edna & John W. Mosley P-8 school to usher in the next generation of clean, zero- and low-emission school buses in Colorado. On May 20, EPA announced the availability of $500 million for school districts and other eligible school bus operators and contractors to begin replacing the nation’s fleet of school buses with clean, American-made, zero-emission buses. This $500 million represents the first round of funding out of the unprecedented $5 billion investment for low and zero-emission school buses over the next five years, secured through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA is encouraging eligible applicants to apply for funding before the Friday, August 19, 2022 deadline.
EPA Deputy Administrator McCabe joined EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker, Governor Jared Polis, Aurora Public Schools, Chief of Staff Mark Seglem, Healthy Air and Water Colorado Senior Director Sabrina Pacha, Green Latinos Colorado State Program Director Ean Thomas Tafoya, and other essential partners at Edna & John W. Mosley P-8. Aurora Public Schools, a statewide and nationwide leader in transitioning its diesel-powered school bus fleet to zero- and low-emission school buses, demonstrated the use of a clean school bus to help encourage the adoption of clean school bus fleets throughout Colorado and across the Mountain West.
“The healthiest school bus is the one without a tailpipe,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “I applaud the State of Colorado for making clean school buses a priority and setting aside millions of dollars to help districts transition their fleets. Through our partnership with Colorado and funding made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can help every kid in Colorado have a healthy ride to school.”
“Electric school buses will help save schools across our state money, help clean our air and protect children's health and safety,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “Our landmark clean air initiatives at the state level paired with the federal investments will help cut pollution and provide savings for schools and we encourage school districts across Colorado to take advantage of this opportunity to lower operating costs and reduce reliance on expensive diesel buses to free up more money for better teacher pay and smaller class size.”
“With the EPA’s recent proposal to downgrade Front Range communities to severe nonattainment in ozone and more than 1.3 million children in Colorado living in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone, these investments in clean buses could not come at a better time,” said Healthy Air and Water Colorado Senior Director Sabrina Pacha. “With cleaner and healthier electric school buses, we are taking a critical step in protecting our kid’s health.”
“We all have a right to clean air—the children, the drivers, and everyone else,” said Green Latinos Colorado State Program Director Ean Thomas Tafoya. “It is important that we advocate for our school districts to implement this new technology, and it is upon all of us to educate our communities about these programs. Let’s do it together!”
Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt our communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and tribal communities. New, zero-emission and low-emission buses will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but produce cleaner air for students, bus drivers, school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities that the buses drive through each day. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on fueling climate change. In addition, zero-emission buses cost less for school districts to operate than diesel buses, and the electricity stored in zero-emission school buses can transmit energy back to the grid to meet extra energy demand or provide energy to communities during power outages.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allows EPA to prioritize applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, tribal schools, and rural areas. This approach supports President Biden’s Justice40 initiative to direct at least 40% of the benefits of certain government investments to underserved communities. EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will strive to meet this commitment and advance environmental justice and equity considerations into all aspects of our work. In addition, EPA will focus education and outreach efforts to underserved communities, including partnering with stakeholders to reach communities that may have never applied for a federal grant or rebate. Portions of the rebates can also be used to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure so that schools can make chargers available for the new buses. The rebate program will select awardees through a lottery system.