Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined a group led by Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) to urge the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies’ to request at least $300 million in new funding for zero-emission school buses in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill. The letter also calls on the subcommittee to increase access to zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure for school districts in historically underserved and rural communities.
“As you develop the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we write to request at least $300 million in new funding be provided for zero-emission school buses under the Clean School Bus Program,” wrote the members. “We also ask that you include the report language below to enhance the successful deployment of zero-emission buses and robust charging infrastructure for school districts in underserved and rural communities.”
Last year, Congress passed a transformational, bipartisan investment in our aging infrastructure, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This law included the largest down payment our country has seen to help electrify our nation’s massive school bus fleet of roughly 480,000 vehicles and provide healthier, cleaner futures for students. However, the $2.5 billion dedicated solely to zero-emission buses, along with an additional $2.5 billion dedicated to zero-emission and alternative fuel buses, only scratches the surface of the needs of providing our nation’s children a clean and healthy ride to and from school.
In the Senate, the letter was also signed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Angus King (D-Maine), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
In the House, the letter was also signed by Representatives Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jerry Connolly (D-Va.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa,), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Jesus “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Al Lawson (D-Fla.), Barabara Lee (D-Calif.), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Tom O'Halleran (D-Calif.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Nikema Williams (D-Ga.).
Full text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Chairs Merkley and Pingree and Ranking Members Murkowski and Joyce:
As you develop the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we write to request at least $300 million in new funding be provided for zero-emission school buses under the Clean School Bus Program. We also ask that you include the report language below to enhance the successful deployment of zero-emission buses and robust charging infrastructure for school districts in underserved and rural communities.
The Clean School Bus Program was established as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA; P.L. 117-58). This bipartisan law included a down payment to start electrifying our nation’s massive school bus fleet of roughly 480,000 vehicles and provide healthier, cleaner futures for students. However, the $2.5 billion dedicated solely to zero-emission buses, along with the additional $2.5 billion dedicated to zero-emission and alternative fuel buses, only scratches the surface of what is needed to transition to zero-emission buses and improve the health of the more than 20 million students who ride buses to school each day as well as surrounding communities.
To deliver the benefits of electric school buses and meet the growing demand for school bus electrification, the “Clean Commute for Kids Act” (H.R. 2721; S. 1271) calls for a ten-year, $25 billion investment. The additional annual appropriation of at least $300 million for FY 2023 would help bolster the Clean School Bus Program, provide an opportunity for annual engagement beyond the five years of funding provided in the IIJA, support a healthier and more productive learning environment for our nation’s children, and bring the United States closer to meeting its emissions targets.
We believe it is also imperative that the Subcommittee support efforts to increase access to zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure for school districts in historically underserved and rural communities. Therefore, we ask that you include report language to encourage the necessary outreach, collaboration, and coordination among school districts and the relevant federal agencies:
The Committee provides not less than $300,000,000 to the Clean School Bus Program for zero-emission school bus deployment and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Committee directs the Agency to conduct outreach to inform, encourage, and support potential award recipients in historically disadvantaged, underserved, and rural communities regarding the availability of resources for the replacement of existing school buses with zero-emission school buses. The Agency shall collaborate with the Department of Energy and Department of Transportation to ensure funding resources for the transition to zero-emission school buses, as well as the necessary charging infrastructure, vehicle-to-grid opportunities, and workforce training programs, are deployed in parallel to optimize program outcomes.
Thank you for your consideration of these requests to ensure the Clean School Bus Program is better equipped to improve the health and safety of students, reduce harmful emissions in communities, and meet the needs of our school districts, especially those in historically underserved and rural communities.