Elected officials applaud federal $5 Billion funding for electric school buses

Elected officials applaud federal $5 Billion funding for electric school buses and support strong national tailpipe standards and no new gas cars sales by 2035

October 26, 2022

Batteries from electric school buses can also store clean energy to be fed into the grid

Presently, most of the nation’s nearly half a million school buses run on diesel, producing extremely harmful emissions that children are forced to breathe while waiting to board their ride to and from school. Even worse, the diesel pollution that leaks inside the bus can be 5 to10 times higher than outside the bus. Yet fewer than one percent of the nation’s school buses are powered by electricity. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The Biden administration and Congress acted for our school children when they passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s)Clean School Bus Program is providing five billion dollars over five years to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models. Now school districts across the country are transitioning to clean, electric school buses.

Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), a network of state and local elected officials, applauds the Biden-Harris administration and Congress for passing the Infrastructure and Jobs Act. EOPA further encourages the implementation of a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 2030, and the prohibition of gasoline-powered vehicles sales by 2035.

EOPA held a press conference on the issue. Please view it HERE: https://youtu.be/Nque6w1l_I8

“Students in every community deserve the health benefits of breathing clean air instead of diesel fumes from their school buses. Thankfully, with the Infrastructure Law funding, the transition is happening. However, the transportation sector remains the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S. Cleaning up this dangerous pollution is one of the most important things we can do to fight the climate crisis, protect our children’s future and national security,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine State Representative, Marine combat veteran, and  President and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America.  “Tragically, and unjustly, communities of color living near heavily trafficked roads and highways suffer the most. That’s why we need the strongest possible pollution standards for cars and light duty vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions, help us achieve a more stable climate, and protect public health nationwide. EOPA supports the administration to take the next step in implementing long-term standards to reach a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 2030.”

Twenty-five million children ride diesel-powered school buses, exposing them to harmful diesel pollution that can trigger asthma attacks and interfere with their ability to learn. Diesel exhaust is a human carcinogen.

“It is our duty to do everything within our power to provide safe transportation to school so students can focus on their education. As the 3rd largest school district in America, we can set the standard for a cleaner transportation future with more efficient buses that will protect the health of students and reduce harmful emissions that advance the climate crisis. We have had enough wake-up calls. Our students need us to act,” said Karly Pulido, M.Eng, LEED GA, Sustainability Officer, Miami Dade County Public Schools.

School buses are the largest form of public transportation in America. 

“Thousands of diesel buses are used every day to transport America’s students. This negatively affects our marginalized communities who are more likely to commute to school using our bus transportation. It is our moral duty to move away from diesel-polluting buses to cleaner, more efficient buses, to protect the health of our students who ride these buses every day and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are the root of the climate crisis,” said Luisa Santos, Miami Dade School Board Member, District 9.

Every day, 480,000 diesel powered school buses ferry up to half of our children to school and back.

“In Connecticut, our state legislature took a huge step to make sure that students don’t breathe in deadly pollution as they travel to and from school. The Connecticut Clean Air Act is an historic effort to make electric vehicles more affordable for families, business, school districts and transit agencies,” said Will Haskell, State Senator District 26, Deputy President Pro Tempore, Transportation Committee Chair, Connecticut. “While we’ve made tremendous progress, no single state can tackle the crisis of climate change by itself. We’re elated that the federal Infrastructure Law has $5 billion allocated for electric school buses. Now we need the federal government to ensure that electric vehicles are the rule — not the exception. That’s why I believe that 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 is a vital target to protect our play for generations to come.” 

The Biden administration has done significant ground work to help the transition to EVs. Also in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $7.5 billion has been included to help accelerate EV adoption by building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV charging stations. By 2030 a convenient national charging network that promises equitable access to rural drivers and overburdened and underserved communities will be created. With increased charging availability the stage is set for more EV use. 

“For decades, children riding a school bus to and from school have been breathing diesel fuel exhaust. Mounting evidence shows it’s a major health hazard and can hamper lung development in young children. This is no longer tolerable. Clear evidence shows that this pollution impacts the neurological systems and the development of our children. It has cut lives short. While Miami Dade’s school system will install 50 electric buses, we need to transfer the entire fleet to electric. I’m relieved and thankful to the Biden administration and Congress for the federal funding for electric school buses,” said Cindy Lerner, Former Mayor Pinecrest Florida and Former State Representative Florida, EOPA Leadership Council. “Electric school buses run on battery power with no tailpipe emissions, protecting our children and the planet. Yet tailpipe emissions still threaten the health of all Americans. That’s why I urge strong pollution standards for cars and light duty vehicles. Our nation needs to take the next step in implementing long-term standards to reach a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles by 2030 and to ensure no gasoline powered cars are sold by 2035.”

New York State made history in April as the first state to enact a law to  transfer all school buses to electric by 2035.

“I’m proud to say, our Governor Hochul boldly led New York to make history  becoming the first state to make a commitment in statute to electrify our school bus fleet last April. All new school bus purchases must be zero emission by 2027 and all buses in operation to be zero emission by 2035,” said William Reinhardt, Albany County Legislator,  New York, EOPA NY Leadership Council, ”As part of an investment in a cleaner and Greener New York, the $500 million for electric school buses has been incorporated into a broader environmental bond act that will go before New York voters this November. This bond is not only for electric school buses, it will help environmental justice communities as well as other measures and put us firmly on the path to a clean energy economy.”

Additionally, the Infrastructure Law allocates more than $7 billion for investments in battery manufacturing, materials, and recycling to drive down EV costs, increase sustainability, and build the batteries that will power the future vehicles in the United States.

A World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiativereport examines how the transition to electric school buses, in addition to keeping diesel exhaust out of developing lungs, could help speed up the expansion of clean energy by providing a critical source of reliable battery storage. This cutting-edge technology could enable electric school buses to store energy and return it to the grid, which will create flexibility and stability for a renewable-powered future.

The report, entitled Electric School Buses and the Grid: Unlocking the power of school transportation to build resilience and a clean energy future, finds that if every school bus currently in operation across the country were replaced with an electric bus that has the right vehicle-to-grid technology, the nation’s school bus fleet would also have the ability to provide 6.28 GW of instantaneous power. That would provide power output equivalent to over 1.2 million typical residential solar roof installations or 16 average coal power generators. 

“My East Hartford School District has 12 schools with over 6,500 students, of whom 90 percent are minorities. Our community shoulders a disproportionate burden from exhaust fumes which are a major health hazard and can hamper lung development in growing children. An electric school bus fleet would improve the health outcomes of our students and their ability to learn. We need to follow the example of Middletown, the first electric bus school district in our state. The federal funding is key,” said Tyron Harris, Board of Education Chairman, East Hartford Public Schools, CT, EOPA Leadership Council. “Additionally, we need to look into this V2G technology, as it has the power to store excess electrical energy, which the district could potentially feed back into the grid saving funds.”

This vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G) enables electric school buses to provide stability, capacity and emergency power to the grid when needed, and potentially to earn revenue for school districts. As electric school buses are mostly only in use during short specific periods, buses could absorb renewable energy when it is available at peak times and release it during periods when it isn’t. V2G energy reduces the need to use power plants, lowering pollution, and saving energy costs for everyone. Plus, bus batteries can serve as mobile energy units in emergency situations, helping to power community centers, healthcare services, or other essential places when the power grid goes down.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), with its historic $369 billion investment in climate action, will massively ramp up clean energy production and overall slash climate pollution in the U.S. by an estimated 40 percent by the end of the decade. Part of the remaining 10 percent needed to meet the IPCC climate goal could come from using electric buses in this manner.

“For years our public policies have too often put profits over people, with a select few reaping the financial benefits while many more suffer the consequences. Scientists have told us that we all will face the catastrophic impacts of this practice if we don’t take immediate action. Advances in battery technology have enabled electric school buses to serve dual purposes, one as safe transportation for our children and the other as a clean energy resource, storing the energy from local wind and solar sources. School districts can potentially sell this power back to the grid at peak times,” said Christian Brock, CEO, Elected Officials to Protect America, air force veteran. “Electric school buses could speed the transition to a clean electric grid. Electrifying the nation’s school bus fleet will get us on the road to a clean energy economy. They could be a significant contributing factor in helping the U.S. reach President Biden’s and the United Nations’ goals of a 50 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2030. 

Cars and light-duty vehicles make up more than 20 percent of all U.S. gas emissions and 45 percent of all U.S. oil consumption. The IRA also provides tax credits of up to $7,500 for consumers buying new and used zero-emissions cars and trucks, plus up to $40,000 for purchasers of electrified commercial vehicles.

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Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.

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