EPA Awards Over $22.6 Million To Oregon School Districts For Clean School Buses

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Compiled by Portland Medium News staff

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding over $22.6 million to 15 school districts across Oregon through the 2023 Clean School Bus Program rebate competition.

The federal investment will facilitate the replacement of 96 older buses with new electric or propane buses, further accelerating the transition from diesel to low- and zero-emission vehicles. This initiative aims to improve air quality, advance environmental justice, boost the economy, and create good-paying jobs.

“Every child—regardless of the color of their skin, their zip code, or how much money their parents make—should be able to travel to and from school without having to be exposed to dangerous air pollutants that drive asthma and other diseases,” said Merkley. “These continued historic investments will help support several Oregon school districts—including small and rural school districts—purchase electric school buses to keep the air cleaner for our kids and save school districts money. I’ll keep fighting for the investments and legislation we need to upgrade school bus fleets around Oregon.”

“For Oregon children and their communities, clean air is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Wyden added. “We need to continue with forward-thinking investments like this that support local economies, schools, and our children, while paving the way for a cleaner future.”

The Clean School Bus Program is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates $5 billion to overhaul the nation’s school bus fleet. Earlier this year, Merkley and Wyden announced federal awards benefiting seven Oregon school districts, including $20 million to Beaverton School District for 50 new electric school buses.

Rebates are crucial for school districts transitioning to clean school buses. Last September, the EPA announced at least $500 million for the 2023 Clean School Bus rebates, but due to overwhelming demand, including in low-income communities and Tribal nations, the EPA doubled the available funding to nearly $1 billion.

Oregon school districts receiving rebate funding include:

  • Pendleton School District: $4,165,000 for 13 electric school buses
  • Morrow School District: $2,800,000 for 14 electric school buses
  • Elkton School District: $2,070,000 for six electric school buses
  • Gresham-Barlow School District: $2,020,000 for 10 electric school buses
  • La Grande School District: $2,020,000 for 10 electric school buses
  • McMinnville School District: $2,000,000 for 10 electric school buses
  • Neah-Kah-Nie School District: $1,725,000 for five electric school buses
  • Umatilla School District: $1,600,000 for eight electric school buses
  • North Douglas School District: $1,380,000 for four electric school buses
  • Yoncalla School District: $1,035,000 for three electric school buses
  • North Marion School District: $910,000 for five electric school buses
  • Hood River County School District: $400,000 for two electric school buses
  • Corbett School District: $200,000 for one electric school bus
  • Ashland School District: $200,000 for one electric school bus
  • Eugene School District: $100,000 for four propane school buses

“EPA’s Clean School Bus Program is a breath of fresh air for our students, schools, and communities,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “Diesel pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health, with impacts felt disproportionately in communities of color and Tribal communities. Clean School Bus grants provide much-needed resources for school districts to upgrade aging fleets, replacing diesel buses with new zero-emission and clean school buses. Pulling older diesel buses off the road will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff.”

In this third round of funding through the Clean School Bus Program rebate competition, funds are being provided for school districts in 47 states, along with several federally recognized Tribes. The EPA is expected to make more funds available for clean school buses this year.