Bipartisan lawmakers laud $58M award for electric school buses to improve air quality for students, South Carolinians of all ages
Federal program to fund 148 zero-emission buses across 16 S.C. school districts
COLUMBIA, SC – South Carolina was awarded over $58 million Wednesday to phase out old diesel school buses and modernize its fleet with new electric school buses serving sixteen school districts across the state. Funded through the federal Clean School Bus Program established by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) will replace 148 diesel-fueled buses with electric school buses and install charging infrastructure in school districts spanning from Anderson to Georgetown. A complete list of districts where new buses and support infrastructure will be deployed is below.
“The transportation sector is the largest source of pollution in the US and our kids deserve a clean, healthy ride to school,” said Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC) Executive Director John Tynan. “Transitioning away from a fossil-fueled school bus fleet is an important step in improving the health of our children, climate, and economy, and CVSC is thrilled South Carolina is helping lead the way to a clean energy future.”
SCDE was awarded more zero-emission electric buses and funding than any other public entity in the nation Wednesday. A known carcinogen, diesel exhaust is linked to asthma and other conditions harmful to student health. Electric school buses have no tailpipe emissions, reducing students’ exposure to the dangers of diesel exhaust pollution.
Members of the General Assembly from both sides of the aisle praised the impact the new, zero-emission school buses will have in their communities:
“As an educator, I appreciate how these new electric school buses will contribute to cleaner air for our students, bus drivers, and faculty and staff who work near bus loading areas,” said Senator Mike Fanning (D-Fairfield). “I’m grateful for Superintendent Spearman’s leadership on transforming the state school bus fleet and am excited Chester and Fairfield County Schools will benefit from being on the front lines of this transition.”
“This funding is a win for South Carolinians of all ages,” Representative Bill Herbkersman (R-Beaufort) said. “It will allow Jasper School District to phase out 4 of their oldest, most polluting diesel buses and replace them with brand new, zero-emission electric school buses that will result in cleaner air, healthier kids, and provide clean energy jobs to people right here in South Carolina.”
“It’s a great day when Chester County students can enjoy new school buses. I appreciate State Superintendent Spearman working to bring our tax dollars back to this community,” said Representative Randy Ligon (R-Chester). “Upgrading our buses not only reduces fuel costs but makes our air cleaner. Everyone can get behind that.”
“As South Carolina continues making strides towards transportation electrification and away from vehicles that produce harmful exhaust, it makes sense that we do the same with the school buses our youngest citizens ride every school day,” Representative Seth Rose (D-Columbia) said. “I know Columbia families will be thrilled for their students to ride on the clean, quiet buses this new federal funding will provide while also improving our climate and the air we all breathe.”
South Carolina districts receiving buses through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program include:
- Abbeville County School District,
- Anderson School District 3,
- Anderson School District Five,
- Barnwell School District 45,
- Chester County School District,
- Dorchester District Four,
- Fairfield County School District,
- Georgetown County School District,
- Hampton County School District,
- Jasper County School District,
- Laurens County School District 56,
- Marion County School District,
- McCormick County School District,
- Orangeburg County School District,
- Richland County School District One, and
- Sumter School District.
EPA’s new Clean School Bus Program was established by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in November 2021, which provides $5 billion over five years to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. SCDE and eligible districts will have the opportunity to apply for another $1 billion in funding for clean school buses in Fiscal Year 2023.