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Natural Awakenings National

School Districts Getting Electric Buses

Electric school bus in parking lot

Robert Peak/

A $1 billion effort to electrify school buses will provide renewable fuel vehicles for around 400 school districts, including Indigenous tribal lands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa. At present, fewer than 1 percent of the country’s 500,000 school buses are electric or run on low-emission fuels. The government grant program wants to reduce children’s exposure to harmful exhaust from diesel buses as part of a broader effort to address climate change and environmental justice by making it easier for communities to have access to zero-emission vehicles. The funds come from $5 billion that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received to purchase around 2,300 electric buses. Many will be available to select school districts by the start of the next school year, with the rest by the end of this year.

A 2021 study found that even brief exposure to air pollution, including wildfire smoke and car exhaust, can alter a child’s DNA and increase their risk of heart and lung problems as adults. Seventy percent of students from low-income families take a bus to school, increasing their exposure to diesel exhaust. Children of color, in particular, are more likely to live near heavy transit routes, industrial facilities and other sources of vehicular and industrial pollution. This is in large part due to historic housing, zoning and transit policies that leave Black and Brown communities with few options.

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