The Biden administration has allocated nearly $1 billion to swap out traditional school buses with low- and zero-emission buses, aiming to cut down air pollution around schools and communities.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that through their Clean School Bus Program Grants Competition, 67 recipients will be given funds to buy over 2,700 clean school buses. These buses will serve 280 school districts and benefit more than 7 million students in 37 states.
“Every school day, 25 million children ride our nation’s largest form of mass transit: the school bus. The vast majority of those buses run on diesel, exposing students, teachers, and bus drivers to toxic air pollution,” said Vice President Kamala Harris in the press release. “Today, we are announcing nearly $1 billion to fund clean school buses across the nation. As part of our work to tackle the climate crisis, the historic funding we are announcing today is an investment in our children, their health, and their education. It also strengthens our economy by investing in American manufacturing and America’s workforce.”
According to Michael Regan, the EPA’s administrator, low-income rural and tribal communities make up about 86% of those benefiting from the funding.
“In DeKalb County, Georgia, a county that has been plagued with air quality issues for decades, one of the major reasons that they applied for this program was also for the climate benefits, but mostly to be used as a compliance mechanism for the air quality disbenefits that these children have been seeing in DeKalb County for decades," said Regan.
As of 2023, over 90% of the school buses use diesel, which, as a known carcinogen, is linked to serious health problems and can affect cognitive development, contributing to issues like asthma, the World Resources Institute reported.
The report states that low-income students, especially those from Black communities and children with disabilities, face higher exposure to diesel exhaust pollution as 60% of them rely on school buses compared to 45% from higher-income families.
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