Padilla, Feinstein Announce Over $68 Million to California for Clean School Buses
Senators helped lead fight to include funding in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
CALIFORNIA — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif.) announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded over $68.2 million to 21 California schools and school districts to replace 177 existing school buses with zero-emission models. This funding comes 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 and Feinstein cosponsored in 2021.
“I have been proud to help lead the charge to transition our nation’s school bus fleet to zero- and low-emission models,” Senator Alex Padilla said. “Success in the classroom starts before children even get to school. Unfortunately, far too many children in working-class communities—like the one I grew up in—are forced to inhale harmful emissions from outdated diesel buses on the way to school. Today’s announcement is a significant investment in modernizing school buses in some of the communities with the poorest air quality. If we are serious about improving public education and public health, then clean school buses are a must.”
“Buses contribute heavily to air pollution and can harm children’s respiratory health. That’s why funding clean buses is absolutely critical,” said Senator Feinstein. “Thanks to $68 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law, these grants will support the purchase of 177 clean school buses across California school districts. This funding is a key step to help California and the nation reach our ambitious emission reduction goals to reduce the effects of climate change and to improve our children’s health.”
These awards are among the first from the five-year, $5 billion Clean School Bus Program. EPA selected the awardees of the Fiscal Year 2022 Clean School Bus Program rebate competition through a lottery system. Across the nation, school districts identified by EPA as priority areas serving low-income, rural, and/or Tribal students make up 99% of the projects that were selected.
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, and the communities through which the buses drive each day. 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 brand new clean school buses, while freeing up needed resources for schools.
In April 2021, Senators Padilla and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act to transition much of the nation’s school bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles and protect children’s health. The group also led a bicameral letter—signed by dozens of their colleagues—to the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies’ leadership to request at least $300 million in new funding for zero-emission school buses in the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bill, which would help meet the overwhelming demand for zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure for school districts in historically underserved and rural communities.