Washington, D.C. – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the award recipients for the inaugural Clean School Bus Program rebate. In response, Chispa LCV released the following statement from Chispa National Senior Director Johana Vicente:
“Chispa members and madres promotoras across the country have been fighting for a clean ride for kids since 2017. The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program is an important step to ensuring that communities get the investments they need to transition to clean transportation. With over 95% of the initial funding going to electric school buses, the EPA’s initial efforts are a historic investment for pollution-free communities. Air pollution affects low-income communities of color disproportionately across the country; we are excited to see this program become a reality, but we know that our work does not end here. Chispa will continue to push for stronger equity indicators like race and air pollution to be part of the EPA’s prioritization criteria for future funding, and for all of these public dollars to be invested in zero-tailpipe-emission school buses that will clean up our air. As the EPA prepares to release their grant program in 2023, we look forward to working with them to make sure communities of color breathing the dirtiest air benefit the first and the most.”
Angeles Sanchez, Mom and Promotora with Chispa Nevada, said:
“We’re thrilled to welcome this EPA funding for Clark County School District to continue the transition to a clean ride for kids, especially for low-income Nevadans and Nevadans of color who breathe the dirtiest air and most need a relief from pollution. In community with our members and promotoras, parents and students, Chispa Nevada has led a Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign since 2017, fighting for electric school buses that won’t pollute the air our children breathe. As the mother of a child who suffers from asthma and rides in diesel school buses, this is a victory for our communities. We look forward to working with Clark County School District to fully transition its fleet to zero-tailpipe-emission school buses. Our children deserve to breathe clean air.”
DJ Portugal, Chispa Arizona Federal Climate Organizer, said:
“Chispa AZ is excited to see that more than $11 million will be invested in clean school buses in Arizona. We are grateful that a majority of the 8 school districts awarded today are considered prioritized school districts that serve low-income communities of color who have been historically disenfranchised. We understand that communities of color are on the front lines of the climate crisis and are statistically more likely to suffer from air pollution-related health conditions. We applaud school districts for taking advantage of this opportunity to work towards transitioning to zero-tailpipe-emission buses and are glad that the majority of this funding will go to electric school buses in particular. We recognize that this will not only improve the air our children breathe but subsequently will also improve their quality of life, including their academic experience, as research shows they will experience reduced health-related absences as air quality improves. Chispa AZ would also like to acknowledge that this progress would not be possible without the ongoing advocacy of Chispa AZ members who, through our Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, continue to push for the electrification of school buses in their communities year after year.“
Ramon Palencia, Chispa Maryland Director and Maryland LCV Deputy Director, said:
“Investing in electric school buses is an investment in clean air and most importantly, our school children. These buses have the potential to be transformational for Baltimore City Public Schools, eliminating toxic chemicals in the air that our children and communities breathe and providing quieter rides, better health, and fewer school absences due to preventable respiratory illnesses. We are calling on school boards and elected officials across Maryland to put the health of our youth and communities first by transitioning the state’s school bus fleet to clean, zero-emission electric school buses.”
The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program was created by the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act of 2021 and will distribute $5 billion over 5 years to replace polluting buses with electric school buses. The program prioritizes funding for low-income, rural, and Tribal school districts. Due to overwhelming demand, the EPA nearly doubled this year’s funding from originally offering $500 million to now awarding $965 million in rebates. Over 90% of 2022 applicants requested electric school buses, and over 95% of the 2,463 new school buses funded through this rebate round will be electric. Additional grants and rebates will be made available in 2023.
School districts receiving EPA rebate awards will have until April 2023 to place their purchase orders and receive the upfront rebate funds. Winning school districts are encouraged to contact their electric utility immediately to begin planning for any infrastructure needs. School districts can also receive technical assistance through the World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiative.
As a founding member of the Alliance for Electric School Buses, a national coalition of not-for-profit organizations committed to equitable electrification of the nation’s school bus fleet, Chispa has been fighting for federal funding for zero-emission, electric school buses since 2019. Check out our coalition’s media statement here.
Chispa is a program of the League of Conservation Voters that builds the power of Latinx communities to fight for climate justice and our democracy. Visit us at https://chispalcv.org for more information.