VP Harris and EPA announce controversial $500 million rebate for massive school bus swap

Vice President Kamala Harris will join the Environmental Protection Agency in Virginia Friday to announce a controversial $500 million Clean School Bus rebate program that will incentivize schools to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric or low emission buses.

Harris, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu will make the announcement at Meridian High School in Falls Church, Virginia, according to a White House press release. School Administrator Regan Merritt, manufacturers, educators, and students will also attend the event.

“The vice president has led on this issue for many, many years as a senator,” Mitch Landrieu, who is the implementation coordinator for the infrastructure law, told reporters during an interview call earlier this week, according to Fox Business. “Vice President Harris led the Clean School Bus Act, the first bill to focus exclusively on zero-emission school busses.”

“This legislation served as a model for the Clean School Bus Program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that she worked with President Biden to pass. Since taking office, the vice president has highlighted the importance of transitioning to zero-emission vehicles, emphasizing the benefits of good jobs, cleaner air, and reduced costs,” he asserted.

Harris indicated that she would be working on the project months ago in her speech concerning electric buses.

(Video Credit: WH.gov)

This is only the first round of funding that is being allotted from a $5 billion investment for low- and zero-emission school buses. The release of funds for the program will take place over the next five years. The money was included in the bipartisan infrastructure law, according to the Biden administration.

Schools can apply for the program starting on Friday and have until Aug. 19 to file their forms. The project will run once a year for the next five years.

There are approximately 500,000 school buses across the nation. This $500 million rebate program represents ten percent of the overall money appropriated to replace them, according to EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe.

“It’s going to depend on what people apply for, how far the money will go,” McCabe stated according to CNN. “We’ll get a better sense of that when we see what people are asking for in this first increment.”

Regan said in a statement that the funding will “forever transform school bus fleets across the United States.”

“These funding opportunities to replace older, heavily polluting buses will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses, many of whom live in overburdened and underserved communities,” he remarked.

“This investment will make a huge difference in the lives of schoolchildren who are currently riding on dirty diesel buses,” Gina McCarthy, Biden’s domestic climate adviser, proclaimed. “Diesel air pollution makes it difficult to breathe. It causes asthma and triggers other health problems. And it’s a leading cause of missed school days for our kids who deserve a healthy school, and to be in school learning.”

The proposed low emission buses may run on “alternative fuels” including liquefied or compressed natural gas, hydrogen, propane, or biofuels.

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