WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, along with her colleagues Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), today wrote to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan asking for clarification on why EPA chose to abandon the long-standing, broad eligibility for funding provided through the successful, bipartisan Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program. In taking this action, EPA is excluding countless school districts in low-income areas around the United States from accessing funding for reduced-emissions buses.

“The new program excludes reduced-emissions diesel, gasoline, propane, and compressed natural gas buses that should all be eligible under implementation of DERA. The limitation to electric buses is a new requirement that was not authorized by Congress. When Congress wants to limit eligibility to a particular type of technology used by school buses, it does so explicitly, and it did not within the [American Rescue Plan]. Restricting rebates to significantly more expensive electric school buses will result in fewer buses being replaced and could severely limit the overall emissions-reduction impact of the program. It also disadvantages rural states where electric school buses may not provide the necessary range to cover long distances and more difficult terrain, leaving these states to continue operating older and more emissive buses,” the senators wrote.

The new program also establishes unjustified, overly restrictive criteria for applicants by reserving funds for an EPA-defined list, which has resulted in 22 states and territories having fewer than five eligible school districts. Of those 22 states and territories, 14 have only a single eligible school district.

“Congress did not authorize this severe restriction in the application and impact of DERA funding in the [American Rescue Plan]. Misguided restriction ultimately harms the public by disqualifying non-electric buses that would reduce emissions for a fraction of the cost and benefit the health of many more children across the country,” the senators wrote.

The full letter can be read here.


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