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Detroit Local NewsDetroit, Lansing and Pontiac public schools receive federal funds from Biden’s Clean...

Detroit, Lansing and Pontiac public schools receive federal funds from Biden’s Clean School Bus Program

Detroit, Michigan – Michigan is making a big leap towards using cleaner and electric-powered school buses. This change is getting a boost thanks to several million dollars awarded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This money comes from the Clean School Bus Program (CSBP) grants.

Three major city school districts – Detroit, Lansing, and Pontiac – are set to get $5,925,000 each from the federal government. This funding will be used to buy 15 new, environmentally-friendly school buses for each district.

Other Michigan school districts to also receive electric school buses

Additionally, First Student Inc. and Highland CSB 1, which are two big organizations that work across multiple states, will be using this funding to bring electric buses to five more public school systems in Michigan. Flint will get 10 of these buses, Redford Union No. 1, which is close to Detroit, will receive five, and Mason County, Brimley, and the West Shore Educational Service District in Ludington will each get two.

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“These EPA Clean School Bus Program grants will help Michigan schools buy and use new, clean school buses to take kids to school safely, protect clean air in and around our schools, and power the future of our mobility industry,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

“Together, we are taking action to meet the goals of the MI Healthy Climate Plan and the historic clean energy package I signed late last year to lower household utility costs, create thousands of jobs, and protect our air, land, and lakes as we meet a 100% clean energy standard by 2040. Let’s keep working together to chart the future of clean energy while protecting the health and safety of our kids and communities.”

“The Michigan Infrastructure Office applauds Detroit, Lansing, and Pontiac for their Clean School Bus Program wins. These federal dollars will purchase new, electric school busses for these school districts, providing a safer and cleaner ride to school for students,” said Michigan Chief Infrastructure Officer Zachary Kolodin.

“A single electric bus can eliminate 1,690 tons of CO2 over its lifespan, the equivalent of taking 27 cars off the road. These busses will save schools money on maintenance costs while meaningfully advancing the state’s climate goals.”

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the awards Jan. 8 as part of the agency’s first CSBP Grants Competition, made possible through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. This is year two of five for the $1 billion-a-year CSBP. Awards in year one took the form of rebates.

“Before the new funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Michigan only had 17 electric school buses,” said Phil Roos, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). “This grant program has greatly accelerated Michigan’s transition to clean school buses, helping implement Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan while lowering costs for schools; keeping Michigan on the leading edge of advanced mobility; and, most importantly, protecting the state’s most precious resources, our children, from harmful air pollution.”

Michigan is dedicated to achieving the ‘cleaner future’ goal with the help from the federal government

Since the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was passed in November 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, Michigan has received billions of dollars from the federal government. This money is being used for big projects that will boost the state’s economy, create lots of well-paying jobs, and lead to a cleaner, brighter future. A 2023 study by Atlas Public Policy shows that Michigan has spent over $1.28 billion of these federal funds on climate-related infrastructure projects, which is more than any other state except for California.

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In Michigan, transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making up nearly 28% of the state’s total. A big part of these emissions comes from the burning of gasoline and diesel, including by school buses. To achieve Michigan’s goal of being 100% carbon neutral by 2050, as outlined in the MI Healthy Climate Plan, it’s important to cut down GHG emissions from transportation.

Every school year, about 17,000 school buses carry over 800,000 students across Michigan.

Back in 2019, EGLE’s Fuel Transformation Program gave a $4.2 million grant to help buy the first 17 electric school buses and their charging stations for seven school districts in Michigan.

In November 2022, the EPA contributed $54 million from the CSBP rebate competition. This funding is for 138 new electric school buses and the necessary infrastructure for 25 school districts in Michigan, covering areas from Southeast Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.

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Governor Whitmer’s bipartisan budget for the fiscal year 2024 includes $125 million to assist school systems in moving to clean-energy buses, focusing on the communities that need them the most.