Every day, more than 20 million kids ride to school on the 450,000 or so buses that trundle through cities and towns across the country. More than 90 percent of those vehicles run on diesel fuel, which emits harmful pollutants like fine particulates, ozone-forming substances like nitrogen oxide, and cancer-causing chemicals like benzene. They also spew a whole lot of greenhouse gases.
The Biden administration wants to do something about that. On Monday, it announced the latest tranche of funding to make America’s yellow buses more green. The Environmental Protection Agency awarded nearly $1 billion in grants to 280 school districts to help them go electric.
The allocations mark the third round of funding for clean school buses released under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. The money will purchase more than 2,700 vehicles to shuttle 7 million students in 37 states. Notably, 86 percent of the cash will go to low-income, rural, or tribal communities. School officials and public health advocates say it’s an important step toward reducing the impacts of diesel pollution — a burden disproportionately experienced by children of color and those in low-income areas.