Padilla, Butler Announce Over $91 Million for Zero-Emission California School Buses

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler (both D-Calif.) announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded over $91.2 million to 47 California schools and school districts to replace 380 existing school buses — the majority of which run on diesel — with zero-emission models. This FY 2023 funding is being distributed from the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, which was included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and modeled after the Clean Commute for Kids Act that Padilla introduced in 2021.

“Setting California’s schoolchildren up for a successful day of learning starts with a cleaner commute,” said Senator Padilla. “The Clean School Bus Program is a crucial down payment on the transition to zero-emission buses, which is especially important to lower income communities who face some of our nation’s worst air quality. I’m proud to have championed these investments, which are already transforming our bus fleets and improving our children’s health and education.” 

“I applaud the Environmental Protection Agency for delivering funding for zero-emission school buses that will reduce pollution and contribute to a healthier environment for our children to learn and grow up in,” said Senator Butler. “These federal dollars will provide targeted investments to school districts most in need, making sure access to cleaner transportation is equitable for all Californians.”

“EPA is proud to take another step in advancing the rollout of electric school buses in California, helping create a future where our children can breathe cleaner air,” said EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “I’ve seen firsthand the advantages of these electric buses, with the absence of noxious diesel emissions benefiting students, school staff, and neighboring communities. Thanks to these investments, more electric school buses will be on the road in school districts across California.”

School districts receiving Clean School Bus Rebate Program awards include:

  • Compton Unified: $8.6 million for 25 buses
  • Fresno Unified: $6.6 million for 25 buses
  • Santa Barbara Unified: $5.1 million for 25 buses
  • Orange Unified: $4.5 million for 25 buses
  • Montebello Unified: $4.2 million for 25 buses
  • Stockton Unified: $6.9 million for 20 buses
  • Whittier Union High: $3.4 million for 17 buses
  • Elk Grove Unified: $5.5 million for 16 buses
  • Paradise Elementary: $2.3 million for 15 buses

The full list of FY23 Clean School Bus Rebate Program awards for California is available here.

These awards mark the third round of funding from the five-year, $5 billion Clean School Bus Program. EPA selected the awardees of the FY 2023 Clean School Bus Program rebate competition through a lottery system, awarding nearly $900 million for over 3,400 buses across 531 applicants nationwide. Across the nation, school districts identified by EPA as priority areas serving low-income, rural, and/or tribal students make up 45 percent of the projects that were selected.

Over 400,000 public school buses travel more than 4.3 billion miles each year to help 23.5 million children get to and from school, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and cause them to miss school, particularly in communities of color and tribal communities. Phasing out these diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff working near the bus loading areas, along with neighboring communities. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will also help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling the climate crisis. The program will also save school districts money as they upgrade school bus fleets, replacing older, heavily polluting buses with new clean school buses and freeing up needed resources for schools.

Senator Padilla has championed the transition from diesel-powered buses to zero-emission vehicles, including through his bicameral Clean Commute For Kids Act. Padilla and the bill co-leads, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.-29) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.-05), recently led a letter urging congressional appropriators to include at least $300 million in additional funding for zero-emission school buses through the Clean School Bus Program for FY25. Padilla announced $88 million for California through the program earlier this year and applauded over $68 million for California school buses in FY22.

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