Vice President Kamala Harris announced Monday a series of new Biden administration actions aimed at putting greener buses and trucks on roads while creating jobs.
What You Need To Know
- Vice President Kamala Harris announced Monday a series of new Biden administration actions aimed at putting greener buses and trucks on roads while creating jobs
- The initiatives include electrifying public and school buses and proposing a rule that would dramatically reduce air pollution caused from heavy-duty vehicles
- Harris and other Biden administration officials made the announcement during an event on the White House campus
- Most of the initiatives are being paid for with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan, both passed by Congress last year
The initiatives include electrifying public and school buses and proposing a rule that would dramatically reduce air pollution caused from heavy-duty vehicles.
Harris and other Biden administration officials made the announcement during an event on the White House campus. Most of the initiatives are being paid for with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan, both passed by Congress last year.
“Our transportation sector has reached a turning point,” Harris said. “We are all in the midst of a turning point. We have the technology to transition to a zero-emission fleet. Our administration … is working to make that possibility a reality.”
The Transportation Department is allocating nearly $1.5 billion to a program that helps state and local governments purchase American-built transit buses and other cleaner models to improve local air quality and expand affordable, accessible transportation options. The DOT also is spending $2.2 billion toward workforce training at 35 transit agencies in 18 states to hire new employees and retain existing ones.
“In our economy, transportation is the single biggest contributor to climate change and is responsible for over 55% of nitrogen oxides — dangerous gases that can contribute to asthma and other respiratory diseases,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “So that also means transportation has to be a big part of the solution to the climate crisis and to air pollution. One of our best tools for doing that is public transit.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $17 million to replace diesel school buses with electric ones. The funding is in addition to $5 billion from the infrastructure law that is being dedicated to green school buses.
“This investment will transform how millions of children get to school each and every day,” EPA Administration Michael Regan said. “It will clean the air we breathe, protect public health and tackle the climate crisis.”
The EPA also is proposing a rule that would set stronger emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles in order to dramatically cut down on air pollution from nitrogen oxides, known to cause asthma, heart and lung disease and other serious respiratory issues. If approved, the White House estimates the change would save 2,000 lives a year, eliminate 18,000 cases of childhood asthma and reduce the number missed school days by 1.1 million.
“Seventy-two million people are estimated to live near truck freight routes in America, and they're more likely people of color and those with lower income,” Regan said. “Those overburdened communities are directly exposed to pollution that leads to respiratory and cardiovascular problems, among other serious and costly health effects.”
Harris said that after she became California’s attorney general, she visited the town of Mira Loma, where residents complained of terrible air pollution.
“In Mira Loma every day, heavy-duty trucks made more than 15,000 trips to that town’s main roads, bringing with them, of course, soot and exhaust, and the air turned toxic,” she said. “The first time I went to Mira Loma, you could taste the metal in the air. My eyes burned. The toxicity in the air was that thick.
“The fact is, there are many Mira Lomas all over our country, communities that have been left out and left behind,” the vice president added.
The Biden administration said the Transportation Department also is using new eligibility in the Port Infrastructure Development Program to advance clean port equipment, including electric charging infrastructure for drayage trucks, cargo equipment and harbor vessels. Meanwhile, the Energy Department is awarding $127 million in grants to expand technology making zero-emission trucks more affordable and durable.