ORANGEBURG, SC (Nov 1, 2022) – Today at an event in Orangeburg, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Orangeburg County School District (OSCD) will receive $6,320,000 in funding for Clean School Bus Program rebates. The funds will allow the district to purchase 16 electric school buses, accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles, and producing cleaner air for children and communities. Seventy five percent of the District’s 12,000 children travel by bus during the school year.
EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman joined Congressman James Clyburn, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and Orangeburg officials in recognizing the award. Statewide, South Carolina will receive nearly $59 million for clean school bus rebates which will help 16 school districts in South Carolina purchase over 148 clean school buses. This funding is the third highest of any state in the country.
EPA’s investment in zero-emission school buses highlights how districts will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save schools money, and better protect children’s health. The investment will also drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, boost domestic manufacturing, and create good-paying jobs.
“The infrastructure bill is delivering critical resources for the communities I represent, which has always been my top priority,” said Congressman Clyburn. “This initial investment of $58 million for South Carolina, including $25.3 million for the Sixth District, will have a lasting impact on rural communities by providing students with reliable and climate-friendly transportation. South Carolina received the third greatest allocation of all the states in this round of awards, and there will be additional funding to come over the next four years of this program to assist even more communities across the state.”
“With this historic investment, schools in Orangeburg and across the southeast will be able to reduce pollution and provide our children with cleaner safer air,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “This is especially critical for children in historically disadvantaged communities who deserve healthy air.”
“We are grateful for the award and what it means for students and residents in our state,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “South Carolina can now tout having a modern state fleet, with plans to have one of the largest fleets of electric school buses in the country. We look forward to the cost savings and many ways this will benefit our state, and we take pride in knowing that the next generation of school bus mechanics, bus drivers, STEM leaders and inventors will be riding on electric school buses very soon.
“The significant investment that the EPA is making in South Carolina, but especially in Orangeburg County School District, is a gift that our students and families will benefit from for years to come,” said Dr. Shawn D. Foster, OCSD Superintendent. “Some of the current buses in our fleet are nearly 15 years old, and the addition of these buses will greatly improve our student’s travel to and from school in a clean, safe, and, most importantly, healthy environment,” Foster continued.
EPA will distribute awards to school districts in all 50 states, Washington D.C., along with several federally recognized Tribes and U.S. territories. School districts identified as priority areas serving low-income, rural, and, or Tribal students make up 99% of the selected projects. More applications are under review, and the agency plans to select more to reach the full $965 million in the coming weeks.
Those school districts that received an award can now 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. EPA is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Transportation to provide school districts with robust technical assistance to ensure effective implementation.
These awards are the first $1 billion of a five-year, $5 billion program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA is also designing the next rounds of program funding to launch in the coming months, including an ambitious grant competition. Through future funding rounds, EPA will make another $1 billion available for clean school buses in Fiscal Year 2023. EPA 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.
About the Clean School Bus Rebate Program
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 new clean school buses while freeing up needed school resources.
The 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates prioritize 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 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.
View the full list of Clean School Bus award recipients here.