Wisconsin schools get federal funds for new clean school buses - TAI News
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A Lion electric school bus is seen on display in Austin, Texas, Feb. 22, 2023. The Transportation Department is awarding almost $1.7 billion in grants for buying zero and low emission buses, with the money going to transit projects in 46 states and territories. The grants will enable transit agencies and state and local governments to buy 1,700 U.S.-built buses, nearly half of which will have zero carbon emissions. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on May 29 that Wisconsin has been awarded nearly $23 million in federal rebates to 24 school districts in the state to be used for new clean energy school buses.

“With today’s latest round of funding, we are transforming the nation’s school bus fleet to better protect our most precious cargo — our kids — saving school districts money, improving air quality, and bolstering American manufacturing all at the same time,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

Funding for the rebates comes from the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, which was created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in 2021. The program will provide local school districts across the United States with $5 billion in funding over a five-year period to transition from existing buses to zero-emission vehicles. According to the EPA, enough awards have been disbursed to replace 8,535 buses.

The Democrats in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, voted for the infrastructure law, but it was opposed by the Republican members of the delegation, including Sen. Ron Johnson.

Approximately 530 school districts across the country received rebates in the latest round of announced funding. The EPA said that the assistance would help schools purchase more than 3,400 buses.

“We are thrilled to see the ongoing support of President Biden in helping districts across the state implement these clean-energy alternatives for schools. Together with our administration’s efforts, these funds will go a long way in advancing our shared goals for a stronger, healthier clean energy economy and future,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a release.

Emissions from diesel-powered school buses have been linked to health hazards for children and are the main cause of climate change.

According to the EPA, diesel exhaust fumes can aggravate bronchitis and asthma and can also cause lung damage. Because the respiratory systems of children are still in development, the exhaust is even more of a health threat than it is for adults.

Children from low-income families and children of color are more likely to be exposed to exhaust from school buses because those communities are more likely than people in white and upper- and middle-class areas to require busing.

The Clean Bus Program is part of the Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative, which seeks to direct 40% of federal investments towards projects related to legacy pollution, energy policy, climate, housing, and job training in some federal investments to historically previously underserved communities.

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