PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Two Oregon school districts will receive electric vehicle school buses thanks to funding awarded to them by the federal government.
The Biden Administration announced Wednesday it’s allocating $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law this year to serve as rebates for school districts to replace their existing, aging school bus fleets with clean buses.
Of that, more than $5.5 million will go to the Banks School District in Washington County and the Prospect School District near Crater Lake to provide them with new, electric buses.
The Banks School District will receive 11 buses and the Prospect School District will receive three buses.
“If you think about it, it’s going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s going to improve air quality around the schools and for the kids. It’s going to incentivize manufacturers and create good paying jobs and it’s just going to protect our kids’ health,” White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu told KOIN 6 News Wednesday.
The grants awarded to school districts are meant to help accelerate their transition to zero-emissions vehicles and produce cleaner air around schools and communities.
According to the White House, diesel exhaust from buses produces particulate matter and other pollutants that can cause lung damage and aggravate asthma and other health problems in children.
“Every child should be able to travel to and from school without being exposed to dangerous toxins. By curbing the dangerous pollution emitted by existing school bus fleets, we will not only be supporting our students but also helping to address climate chaos, giving them a brighter future,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D.-Ore. “I am happy kids in Banks and Prospect will be getting a cleaner and safer way to school.”
So far, 389 schools throughout the U.S. have been selected to receive electric buses.
The $1 billion in awards issued in 2022 is part of a $5 billion program. The Environmental Protection Agency is designing the next rounds of program funds to launch in the coming months.
The EPA plans to make another $1 billion available for clean school buses in the Fiscal Year 2023.
Landrieu said most of the districts selected in the first round of awards were ones that would otherwise have difficulty paying for electric buses themselves.
He said the Banks and Prospect school districts will be able to take their rebate money to one of five electric bus manufacturers to order their buses.