LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – In a time when Michigan automakers are drastically increasing EV vehicles, the federal government is granting millions to Michigan to help transform its gas powered school bus fleet into a low emissions one.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would be allocating $1 billion in funding to make roughly 400 school districts zero or low-emissions school bus dominant. In facet 95% of the buses will be electric while the remaining will be compressed natural gas buses and nearly 100 propane-fueled buses.
Michigan will be the recipient of $54 million across 25 school districts. Of the 138 school buses that Michigan will purchase, Pontiac School District will receive 25 and Jackson Public Schools will buy 21 buses.
“As many as 25 million children rely on the bus to get to school each day. Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration, we are making an unprecedented investment in our children’s health, especially those in communities overburdened by air pollution,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, “This is just the beginning of our work to build a healthier future, reduce climate pollution, and ensure the clean, breathable air that all our children deserve.”
According to data, more than 90% of school buses run on diesel, though there has been a tremendous spike in the conversion of diesel buses to electric or low emissions. 2018 was the first year that 100 electric buses were in circulation, but fast forward to the beginning of 2021, there were 1,555. But a massive increase in the 4th quarter of 2021 – 11,682 buses – can be attributed to the 10,000-bus/five-year commitment by bus dealer Midwest Transit Equipment and SEA Electric according to the World Resources Institute.
“In May, EPA had announced the availability of $500 million, but given overwhelming demand from school districts across the country, including in low-income communities, tribal nations, and territories, EPA is nearly doubling the amount of funding that will be awarded to $965 million,” the press release stated.
Michigan was ranked as a committed state according to WRI; committed is defined as a school district or fleet operator that has been awarded funding to purchase it or has made a formal agreement for a purchase with a manufacturer. As of June 2022, Michigan only had 38 Electric School buses across eight school districts in the lower peninsula.
The funding from the EPA would more nearly quadruple the amount of electric school buses in Michigan.