Students will breathe easier thanks to funding for 138 electric school buses

On a sunny morning in early November, three bright yellow school buses did something extraordinary: they drove through the parking lot of a school in Ypsilanti with no smoke, no smell, and virtually no noise.

The full-size, battery-powered buses offered a taste of the 138 electric buses soon to arrive in 25 Michigan schools and public districts (listed below) thanks to $54 million in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. environment (EPA).

EGLE principal Liesl Clark in Ypsilanti during the announcement of an electric school bus.

This will be the first major influx of electric school buses to Michigan since September 2019, when the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) awarded $4.2 million to support the purchase of 17 electric school buses and charging stations to serve seven schools in Michigan. neighborhoods, replacing 17 polluting diesel buses. EGLE also awarded a grant to Dean Transportation in September 2022 for an electric bus to replace a diesel used by Cadillac Public Schools.

The EPA designed its new, five-year, $5 billion Clean School Bus Program, funded by President Joe Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce cleaner air. pure. The program has awarded nearly $1 billion nationally to support the purchase of more than 2,400 clean-powered buses. Grants of up to $375,000 per bus plus $20,000 for charging infrastructure will help districts replace older, high-polluting buses with new, clean ones, while freeing up resources for other expenses school.

EGLE Principal Liesl Clark joined representatives from two recipient school districts (Ypsilanti Community Schools and Dearborn Community Schools); electric school bus suppliers; and regional, state and federal dignitaries at a Nov. 2 press conference to celebrate funding for Michigan schools.

“These grants are future-focused in two crucial ways,” Clark said. “They’re protecting the health of our children and generations to come in Michigan’s bright clean energy future, and they’re moving us forward toward the ambitious goals we’ve set for ourselves to reduce our carbon footprint and avoid the worst impacts.” of the climate crisis.”

The MI Healthy Climate Plan, Michigan’s roadmap to a prosperous, carbon-neutral economy by 2050, calls on the state to add infrastructure to support 2 million electric vehicles on Michigan’s roads by 2030 and to increase access to clean transport, including public transport, by 15% per year. Public school buses collectively form the largest mass transit system in America.

“Today we celebrate a great victory,” EPA Region 5 Director Debra Shore told attendees of the Nov. 2 event. She noted that 99% of school districts chosen for grants across the country serve low-income, rural, and tribal students. “The EPA is proud to be able to partner with them and help move our country toward a cleaner, healthier future.”

“Clean buses are going to make a real difference in the health of our children,” said U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell.

Dearborn received funding for 18 electric buses. Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko praised the impact they will have and the example they will set.

“I think for our students,” he said, “the lesson is good environmental stewardship.”

Ypsilanti has received funding for 10 electric buses, which Assistant Superintendent Dr. Carlos Lopez says is a “game changer” for his district. Devon Kirkland, a junior at Ypsilanti High School, says it should also be a game-changer for students like him who suffered from asthma made worse by diesel fumes from driving the bus as children.

“It’s not something I would have had to deal with at that age,” he said, and he hopes a niece and nephew who will soon be attending Ypsi schools will be among those to benefit from the benefits. zero-emission bus.

In addition to funding for Ypsilanti and Dearborn, the EPA also provided Michigan grants to Pontiac schools for 25 buses; Jackson for 21; Homer for seven; Ubly for six; Beecher, Britton Deerfield and Chesaning Union for five each; Hartford and Pellston for four each; Cassopolis, Harbor Beach, Hopkins and Onsted for three each; Alcona, Bessemer, L’Anse, Mayville, Pentwater and Sand Creek for two each; and one each for Armada, Au Gres-Sims, Ojibwe Charter and Unionville-Sebewaing.

The EPA’s next $1 billion annual funding round, for fiscal year 2023, will kick off in the coming months with an ambitious grantmaking competition. The agency encourages participation from school districts that were not selected in the first round or did not apply for this funding round.

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