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Feds sending millions for Georgia schools to buy ‘clean school buses’

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(The Center Square) — The federal government is sending more than $25 million to school districts in Georgia to buy “clean school buses.”

The money, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2023 Clean School Bus Program rebate competition, is funded by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which some call the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Federal officials say the funding will help the school districts replace older, diesel-fueled school buses and hasten the transition to zero-emission vehicles. The program funds the purchase of electric buses, along with propane and compressed natural gas buses.

“Clean transportation investments will have lasting impacts on protecting clean air for the environment,” Acting EPA Region 4 Administrator Jeaneanne Gettle said in a statement. “This significant funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will allow children across the Southeast to breathe cleaner air and communities will reap tremendous health benefits.”

A news release indicated the rebates would help “selectees purchase over 22 clean school buses in six school districts across Georgia.” However, the release lists rebate funding for 10 districts, totaling more than $27.4 million for 135 buses.

An EPA spokesperson did not respond to a request to clarify the apparent discrepancy.

Regardless, having the buses is just one part of the equation.

“With funding in place, the challenge now becomes building the infrastructure and training the maintenance workers upon which to operate the replacement busses,” Todd R. Zabelle, author of “Built to Fail, Why Construction Projects Take So Long, Cost Too Much and How to Fix It,” told The Center Square in an email.

“The administration continues to make funds available to enable digital transformation and energy transition, but whether it is onshoring semiconductor plants or deploying a fleet of alternative energy buses, infrastructure needs to be built and maintained. Something that the construction industry challenged by ongoing supply chain disruption and an ever-shrinking skilled labor pool finds difficult to accomplish in an efficient manner,” Zabelle added. “If we are going to successfully navigate the energy transition, we must sort out the construction industry, including coherent investment in educating and training knowledge and craft workers how to deliver projects on time and to budget.”

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