May 20, 2022
Today, U.S. EPA announced long awaited guidance for the Clean School Bus Program. Authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), EPA’s Clean School Bus Program provides $5 billion over the next five years to replace school buses with low- and zero-emission school buses. The first funding opportunity under this program is the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates with EPA offering $500 million for zero-emission and clean school bus rebates.
Statement by Susan Mudd, Senior Policy Advocate
“ELPC welcomes EPA’s long-awaited guidance for the brand-new Clean School Bus Program created in the IIJA. This program offers school districts the critical opportunity to replace noisy and dirty diesel buses with clean electric school buses for their students. These new electric buses will deliver safe, quiet and pollution free rides benefitting students, drivers and communities. Making this switch for all students who ride buses is critical – but it must be done fairly and quickly.
Unfortunately, EPA’s program design adds an extra burden on school districts that are either switching from contracted student transportation services to owning their own buses or switching contractors. Those school districts would have to acquire a school bus to promise to scrap in order to be allowed to apply. This is a very real flaw in the program that could leave priority schools across the Chicagoland area that serve predominantly low-income Black and Brown students out of the very first round of the program. The children in priority school districts should not have the chance at a clean ride delayed because of who does or does not own a bus. Further, another issue is Chicago Public Schools and other districts were left off the priority list entirely because of a mis-guided approach to number of students under the poverty line.
ELPC is working hard to ensure all school districts, especially those EPA has included on their priority list to meet essential equity outcomes, know about this program and can apply. We will continue to do that work while urging EPA to issue guidance that ensures all schools have a chance to participate in the program consistent with congressional intent without unnecessary make-work burdens.”