EPA’s $19M grant will put clean school buses on the streets of New Jersey

A bipartisan infrastructure law is transforming how New Jersey children get to school, accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles and producing cleaner air for our communities. Transportation company Van-Con Inc. will receive nearly $19 million to purchase 42 clean school buses and 28 bus chargers.

A recent message delivered by EPA chief of staff Olivia Glenn, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and other congressional and local leaders at Jose Marti STEM Academy in Union City said the award, which is made possible through President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda, will help secure clean school buses for five school districts in New Jersey, including Bloomfield Township, Elizabeth, Lakewood Township, Newark and Union City.

“Today’s funding means cleaner air and less pollution … which equals healthier kids,” Glenn said. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’ll breathe easier in New Jersey having these quiet, tailpipe-less school buses carrying our kids to and from school and other activities. Making our neighborhoods cleaner and better places to live is how we advance environmental justice and is what investing in America is all about.”

“I want to thank President Biden, our congressional delegation and the Environmental Protection Agency for their steadfast support of our efforts here at home to protect schoolchildren from harmful pollutants and give them the best chance to succeed,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Together, we are building momentum in the transition to zero-emission vehicles that will help us deliver on our promise to mitigate the disproportionate health impacts of medium and heavy-duty vehicles, especially in New Jersey’s most overburdened communities.”

The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program was adopted under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides an unprecedented $5 billion of funding to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses. The Clean School Bus Program funds electric buses, producing zero tailpipe emissions, as well as propane and compressed natural gas buses, resulting in lower tailpipe emissions compared with their older diesel predecessors.

“There is nothing more important than the health and wellbeing of our children, most of whom are transported each day on school buses that produce harmful diesel emissions,” New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said. “The Murphy administration is proud to have recently announced its groundbreaking Electric School Bus Grant Program providing grants for clean electric school bus purchases and charging infrastructure. We are equally proud to join with the EPA and the Biden-Harris administration in announcing this Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for even more electric school bus purchases and infrastructure in New Jersey. With programs like these, we are embarking on an exciting and important journey that will better protect the health of our schoolchildren and communities, especially our overburdened communities.”

“I’m proud to work with the Biden administration to deliver funding that will benefit five New Jersey school districts with clean school buses, a significant investment in protecting our children’s health and combating the climate crisis,” Booker said. “When we crafted the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these are among the groundbreaking investments into our communities that I envisioned. Electric school buses are a win-win for our children, bus drivers and our communities — providing a cleaner, healthier environment and producing long-term savings. Today’s grant announcement is the product of a months-long process during which my office worked closely with the awardees, and I’m confident this is one of many more awards to come. My office is continuously engaged with districts throughout the state seeking to transition to an electric fleet.”

“I’m proud to have secured this funding for clean school buses through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Clean School Bus program is a perfect example of how making necessary investments in building the clean energy economy will also create a healthier environment for our children,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said. “These zero-emission buses will help phase out older, dirtier diesel engines, reducing not only our greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, but also other harmful air pollution that is linked to asthma and other health impacts. Students, staff and residents of these five communities in New Jersey will benefit immensely from these new electric buses, and I look forward to continuing to work to bring even more funding for clean energy and transportation to communities across the state.”

“With this grant, New Jersey is one step closer to a greener future, thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These school districts will now be able to purchase clean energy school buses and chargers — not only improving their transportation fleet, but also protecting the health of our children. Securing federal grants like this is key to my fight to make New Jersey a better, safer and more affordable place to live. I am thankful for the efforts of Sen. Booker and the EPA in supporting that shared goal,” U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.) said.

The Clean School Bus Program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts and produce cleaner air. Air pollution from older diesel engines 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. Efforts to minimize the effects of these older 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 also will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling the climate crisis. The program will benefit school districts as they upgrade to cost-saving and fuel-efficient school bus fleets, by replacing existing buses with brand new zero-emission and clean school buses and freeing up needed resources for schools.