WILMINGTON, Del. — The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) has been awarded an $809,000 federal grant to purchase one propane and three electric school buses for the Colonial School District through the federal Clean School Bus Rebate Program. Nationally, these awards are part of the first $1 billion of a five-year, $5 billion program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, championed by Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) and signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021.
The department—which qualifies the same as a school district as an applicant for this rebate because the state is a funder, purchaser and title owner of almost 500 school buses—submitted rebate applications for Colonial and four other districts. The award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was from a random generation of grant applications from around the country, and Colonial’s was the first on the lottery list among the Delaware districts.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Rebate program incentivizes both electric and propane school bus purchases since both are cleaner than diesel engine buses. Delaware school bus fleets already contain about 108 propane buses. These will be Delaware’s first electric school buses.
“Thanks to our historic investment in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, electric school buses are soon coming to communities across our nation,” said Senator Carper, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Today’s announcement means that the Colonial School District will be able to replace dirty school buses with cleaner alternatives. Importantly, these updates are going to result in cleaner air for students to breathe, more good-paying jobs, and a better future for our planet. I commend EPA Administrator Michael Regan and the Biden Administration for their continued commitment to deploying clean school buses, especially in disadvantaged communities.”
“Reducing transportation-related emissions is a key part of our Climate Action Plan, and we need to expand cleaner types of transportation across our state,” said Governor Carney. “Thank you to President Biden and our congressional delegation for supporting continued investments in cleaner transportation – an important step in our efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Investments in the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to modernize our school bus fleets will help us combat climate change and bring down fuel costs for schools, all while ensuring students in Colonial School District and every state across the country ride to class without breathing in harmful pollutants,” said Senator Coons.
“With the transportation sector representing the single largest source of carbon emissions in the United States - we know that we have a tremendous opportunity with fleet and large capacity vehicles to help in our mission to reach net zero emissions," said Representative Blunt Rochester. That’s why the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program - which I was proud to vote to create through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law - is such a critical tool to modernize the vehicles that bring our kids to and from school every day while reducing our carbon footprint. I want to commend the Colonial School District for putting together a compelling plan to win this grant from the EPA - and I look forward to seeing these low and zero-emission school buses out on the roads of Delaware.”
“We are constantly looking for ways to improve our services to our students and families, while making the bus environment more appealing for our drivers,” said Colonial Superintendent Jeffrey Menzer.
The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts and produce cleaner air. Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and cause them to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities. Phasing out these diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities through which the buses drive each day. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will also help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling the climate crisis. The program will also save school districts money as they upgrade school bus fleets, replacing older, heavily polluting buses with brand new clean school buses, while freeing up needed resources for schools.
The EPA rebate program requires that the new clean buses replace older school buses that are currently in service, with the primary category for replacement being diesel buses from 2010 or before. Delaware has engaged in a concerted effort to replace older school buses over the last few years with newer, cleaner ones, and 99 percent of the state-owned buses were already newer than 2010, with 76 percent 2016 or newer.