As a part of the sweeping Inflation Discount Act of 2022, the Environmental Safety Company (EPA) launched a brand new Clear College Bus Program that earmarked $5 billion to assist college districts change from conventional diesel to “clear power” electrical college buses — however one of many program’s necessities is holding these buses out of the low-income college districts that stand to learn probably the most from them.
What’s Going On Right here?
With a view to qualify for first spherical of funding from these EPA grants, college districts are being required to determine the particular diesel buses they’d be changing with the brand new, clear buses. The issue there may be that many low-income college districts don’t personal their very own buses. And, as a result of they depend on contractors or backed lease offers, they will’t meet the scrappage requirement.
In an open letter despatched to the EPA, 14 members of Congress from Illinois wrote that, “These colleges, no matter their curiosity in this system or dedication to bettering air high quality for his or her college students, are barred from funding to decarbonize their fleets.” In Chicago alone, that one requirement signifies that a number of Chicagoland college districts — a listing that features Proviso, Wealthy Township, Lindop, Prairie Hills, and Waukegan — gained’t have the ability to take part within the Clear College Bus Program.
One of many districts negatively impacted by the EPA’s scrappage necessities is Wealthy Township HSD 227 on the south facet. D227 contracts with a non-public firm to bus its college students, and must persuade their contractor to scrap their buses — and that’s one thing they will not be prepared to do. D227 Superintendent Johnnie Thomas thinks it’s unfair for districts like his to should depend on an out of doors entity to be able to even have the ability to apply for the federal funding. “With (bus driver) shortages, with Covid and issues of that nature, we have now little or no leverage in negotiating prices of these providers,” Thomas stated. “This was a major alternative for us to have some leverage to assist stability the price of offering transportation providers to our households.”
It will get worse.
If the non-public contractor agrees to the scrappage, they should conform to serve the district that applies for the grant for a interval of 5 years. No downside there, proper? As soon as the 5 years are up, although, the contractor will get to maintain the buses, whether or not they proceed to serve the college district or not. To some, it would seem that it’s the contractor who would profit most from the Clear College Bus Program, and never the district or college students. “We’re excited that there’s a push to change into greener, to enhance air high quality in our space,” Thomas stated. “Sadly, as a result of we don’t personal a faculty bus and must associate, it simply wasn’t advantageous for us.”
Illinois isn’t the one state college districts are dealing with this downside in. Susan Mudd, a senior coverage advocate on the Midwest-based Environmental Legislation & Coverage Middle, stated she has additionally heard related considerations from districts in New York and Louisiana — with extra certain to return.
The scrappage requirement, in line with the EPA, wasn’t their concept. As a substitute, it got here as a response “to suggestions EPA has heard from communities overburdened with air air pollution,” in line with an EPA spokesperson who spoke to Inside Local weather Information. “[Those communities] expressed concern that, absent a alternative requirement, probably the most polluting diesel buses within the nation can be relocated to their communities, additional exacerbating long-standing environmental justice considerations.”
Sounds to me just like the wealthy youngsters are anxious that the poor youngsters may get a superb deal on their used buses, however I could also be too near the entire thing. What do you guys suppose? Is the scrappage requirement the suitable solution to go, or is that this — like Money 4 Clunkers — a well-aimed shot on the decrease and center class? Scroll on to the feedback and tell us.
Electrical Buses Bonus Content material
If all this discuss electrical college bus fleets has you excited to study extra, take a look at this episode under of CleanTech Speak, that includes the founder and CEO of Highland Electrical Transportation, Duncan McIntyre, who makes a speciality of serving to college districts get reasonably priced entry to cleaner electrical buses. Take pleasure in!
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