WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would nearly double the funding awarded for clean school buses this year following increased demand, with school districts from all 50 states applying for the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates. This is the first round of funding from the EPA Clean School Bus Program, which President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created with a historic $5 billion investment for low- and zero-emission school buses over the next five years.
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.
EPA will move swiftly to review applications submitted and expects to issue a robust slate of awards next month. EPA is also designing the next rounds of program funding to launch in the coming months, which will include an ambitious grant competition. Through future rounds of funding, EPA will make available another $1 billion for clean school buses in Fiscal Year 2023.
“Thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re working across all 50 states to accelerate the transition to a future where clean, zero-emissions school buses are the American standard,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “America’s school districts delivered this message loud and clear – we must replace older, dirty diesel school buses. Together, we can reduce climate pollution, improve air quality, and reduce the risk of health impacts like asthma for as many as 25 million children who ride the bus every day.”
“Today’s announcement reflects what we know to be true—school districts across our country are eager to replace their heavy-polluting school buses with cleaner alternatives.” said Senator Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “I’m especially pleased to see that there is high demand for electric buses among low income, tribal, and other disadvantaged communities. These are the very communities that stand to gain the most from our historic clean school bus investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Given the response to the availability of these dollars, it’s clear that more funding is needed. I look forward to working with Administrator Regan, the rest of the Biden Administration, and my colleagues in Congress to build on this progress so that more communities can realize the clean air and energy saving benefits of these cleaner vehicles.”
“This is a huge win for our nation’s children and our fight against the climate crisis,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. “School districts across the country have long recognized the tremendous benefits of zero-emission electric school buses for protecting both our environment and our children’s health. With today’s announcement, I’m thrilled we are making significant progress toward safeguarding both. I encourage every school district to apply and look forward to seeing this important program in action.”
The rebate application period closed in August with an outstanding response from school districts seeking to purchase electric and low-emission school buses across the country. EPA received around 2,000 applications requesting nearly $4 billion for over 12,000 buses. More than 90 percent of buses requested were for zero-emission electric buses. Nearly 9 percent of applications were for propane buses and 1 percent were for compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.
The applicant pool includes submissions from all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and federally recognized Tribes.
The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce 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. 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. 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. School districts can save money by upgrading their fleets.
The 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates prioritizes low-income, rural, and Tribal communities. The vast majority of applicants met the priority definition under the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates criteria, resulting in access to more funds for buses and electric vehicle infrastructure for schools in areas that need them the most. The program also delivers on President Biden’s Justice40 commitment, which aims to deliver 40% of benefits from certain federal programs to underserved or overburdened communities.
EPA is currently reviewing submitted applications to determine eligibility and make final selections. EPA anticipates notifying rebate applicants of their selection status in October 2022. Once notified, selected school districts can proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure. Selectees will need to submit Payment Request Forms with purchase orders demonstrating they have ordered new buses and eligible infrastructure. After the selectees submit the proper forms, they will be eligible to receive rebate funds.
This is the first of several funding opportunities for the multi-year Clean School Bus Program. EPA anticipates running both a grant competition and another rebate program in 2023. The agency encourages school districts not selected in the first round of rebates – and those that did not apply this funding cycle – to participate in future rounds.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides EPA with an unprecedented $5 billion opportunity to fund the replacement of older school buses with new zero- and low-emissions buses over a five-year period and jump-start the transition to zero emission in our schools. For more information, visit the EPA Clean School Bus Program website.
Effectiveness of Third-Party Testing and Minimal Standards for CDL Knowledge and Skills Tests: FMCSA is conducting a project titled ‘‘Effectiveness of Third-Party Testing and Minimum Standards for the CDL Knowledge and Skills Test’’, which will assess the effectiveness of the ELDT program, assess third-party training provider performance, and verify/ validate compliance with ELDT minimum standards. Comments are due by November 21, 2022. The Notice can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-09-21/pdf/2022-20406.pdf.
Electronic Logging Devices: FMCSA solicits public comment on ways to improve the clarity of current regulations on the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) and address certain concerns about the technical specifications raised by industry stakeholders. The Agency seeks comment in five specific areas in which the Agency is considering changes: applicability to pre-2000 engines; addressing ELD malfunctions; the process for removing ELD products from FMCSA’s list of certified devices; technical specifications; and ELD certification. Comments are due by November 15, 2022. The Notice can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-09-16/pdf/2022-20095.pdf.
Qualification of Drivers: Medical Examiner’s Handbook and Medical Advisory Criteria Proposed Regulatory Guidance: FMCSA extends the comment period for its August 16, 2022, notice of proposed regulatory guidance relating to the draft Medical Examiner’s Handbook (MEH), which includes updates to the Medical Advisory Criteria published in the United States Code of Federal Regulations. Comments are now due by October 31, 2022. The original notice can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-08-16/pdf/2022-17592.pdf.
Uniform Procedures for State Highway Safety Grant Programs: This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes revised uniform procedures implementing State highway safety grant programs. Comments are due by October 31, 2022. The notice can be accessed here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-09-15/pdf/2022-18995.pdf.
Notice of Intent to Prepare a Environmental Impact Statement for MY2023 and Beyond New Medium- and Heavy-Duty Fuel Efficiency Improvement Program Standards: This is notice that NHTSA intends to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of new fuel efficiency (FE) standards for model years (MYs) 2030 and beyond medium- and heavy-duty on-highway vehicles and some work trucks. This notice initiates the process for determining the scope of considerations to be addressed in the EIS and for identifying any significant environmental issues related to the proposed action. NHTSA invites comments from Federal, State, and local agencies, Indian tribes, stakeholders, and the public in this scoping process to help identify and focus any matters of environmental significance and reasonable alternatives to be examined in the EIS. Comments are due by October 19, 2022. The notice can be accessed here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-09-19/pdf/2022-20211.pdf.
The 2022 National Illegal Passing Survey results are now available. Visit the Resources > Surveys tab of the website or visit https://www.nasdpts.org/stop-arm-violations/#results to see this year's final results.
On January 12, 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its draft Cybersecurity Best Practices for the Safety of Modern Vehicles guidance to support industry-led efforts to improve the industry’s cybersecurity posture as well as provide NHTSA’s views on how the automotive industry can develop and apply sound, risk-based cybersecurity management processes during the vehicle’s entire lifecycle. These guidelines are intended to be applicable to all individuals and organizations involved in the design, development, manufacture and assembly of a motor vehicle and its electronic systems and software. These entities include, but are not limited to, small and large-volume motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment designers, suppliers, manufacturers, and modifiers. Today, NHTSA released the Final Guidelines, which are effective as of today and can be accessed here: 2022-19507.pdf (govinfo.gov). While this is the final version of this iteration of the Best Practices, NHTSA routinely assesses cybersecurity risks as well as emerging best practices and will consider future updates as motor vehicles and their cybersecurity evolve.
Today the Biden Administration is announcing Public and Private Sector actions to strengthen the teaching profession and help schools fill teacher and school support position vacancies.
Of particular interest to the school transportation industry, the Administration is announcing:
The full fact sheet can be found here: FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces Public and Private Sector Actions to Strengthen Teaching Profession and Help Schools Fill Vacancies - The White House.
NASDPTS has released its full conference agenda. Click here to find out what's happening!
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice for comment today on draft revisions of the Medical Examiner’s Handbook. Comments are due by September 30, 2022. Here’s the notice: 2022-17592.pdf (govinfo.gov). To access the draft Medical Examiner’s Handbook, go to the Docket, which you will find here: https://www.regulations.gov/document/FMCSA-2022-0111-0002.
As you may have heard, last week the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced updated and streamlined COVID-19 guidance. The press release announcing those updates can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0811-covid-guidance.html.
The CDC has also updated their Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning. That updated guidance, which includes, but is not limited to, the removal of information about Test to Stay, can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-childcare-guidance.html
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) has submitted an application to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting a five-year exemption for the ‘‘under-the-hood’’ CDL testing requirement.
Drivers issued a CDL pursuant to the requested exemption would be restricted to the intrastate operation of school buses only. FMCSA requests comments on this application by September 12, 2022 and the notice can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-08-11/pdf/2022-17228.pdf.
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