Sen. Patty Murray is introducing the latest federal effort to flip the switch toward electric school buses.
The Clean School Bus Act would provide the U.S. Department of Energy with $1 billion over five years to “spur increased adoption of this clean technology,” according to a Feb. 25 press release issued by the office of Murray, the Democrat senator from Washington state.
It would also include up to $2 million in grants to replace diesel school buses with electric counterparts as well as pay for charging infrastructure and “support workforce development.” Grant applications submitted by school districts that serve students from low-income families would receive priority.
Seattle Public Schools is anticipated to be one of the first districts to benefit from if the legislation is passed. In fact, new district school bus purchases made after April 10 must be zero or near-zero emissions. That was an edict by the school board in passing a clean energy resolution last month to fully transition to zero-emissions, fossil-free throughout all district properties by 2040.
“The commitment our district made for 100-percent clean energy in electricity and transportation will have a positive impact for generations to come,” said Seattle board director Zachary DeWolf, who co-authored the resolution with fellow director Lisa Rivera-Smith. “This was a huge community effort to create, so to all of our students who worked and fought for this, thank you for holding us adults accountable. I hope you understand the power you have in making the world better.”
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Among the resolution’s other features, new district construction or renovation after April 10 must be completed without the use of fossil fuel infrastructure, according to the resolution. Additionally, a task force will be assembled by April 30 to begin developing the plan and accountability process, with priority given to advancing racial, environmental and economic justice.
The resolution also includes a 2027 deadline for the district to run on 100-percent, zero-carbon electricity provided by utility company Seattle City Light and renewable energy sources that are to be installed on all district property.