While one doesn’t usually think that hard about how school buses may relate to climate change or health, research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown that not only are school buses a producer of heat-trapping emissions that worsen climate change, the EPA also cites studies that show school bus pollution is affecting children’s health.
That’s why school districts in Wisconsin may soon be replacing their worn-down fleet of diesel buses with cleaner energy-efficient options, courtesy of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Out of the $1 trillion outlined in the bipartisan budget, $5 billion is set aside for the Clean School Bus Program for the EPA.
As the name suggests, the EPA is offering $500 million in rebates annually until 2026 to encourage school districts to sign up and replace their old buses for electric or zero-emission options.
Jason Treutel, the air quality section chief at the Department of Natural Resources, explained that “half of those funds are specifically directed toward zero-emission school buses, commonly referred to as electric or EVs, and half are directed towards alternative fuel buses such as propane, or compressed natural gas buses, but can also be used for EVs.”
School districts in Wisconsin have been quick to take up the offer, as 198 districts have been prioritized in new bus funding, including low-income communities where students are particularly reliant on public transportation. The program also prioritizes rural and tribal districts in the state when it comes to obtaining rebates.
The EPA outlines that school districts can replace up to 25 eligible buses, with the ceiling rebate sitting at $375,000. Overall in the midwest, the EPA expects to account for upwards of 2,500 clean school buses.
Research has shown that car pollution is a major contributor to climate change, with the EPA reporting that 27 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. comes from transportation.