FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2022
Jennifer Inaba, Western Resource Advocates
Nissa Erickson, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
[SANTA FE, NM] – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the award of funding for 5 New Mexico school districts to purchase 12 electric school buses, including Las Cruces Public School District 2. Senator Martin Heinrich joined leaders of New Mexico nonprofits advocating for clean air, environmental justice, a stable climate, children’s health and for energy efficiency to celebrate the announcement:
“I am thrilled to welcome this first round of funding for the Clean School Bus Program,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, founder and co-chair of the Electrification Caucus. “The clean energy and electrification investments that we secured in the Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act are by far the most significant steps that Congress has taken to spur the widespread deployment of highly-efficient, fully electric and climate pollution-free technologies. Modernizing the vehicles that transport New Mexico’s children to school–especially with clean and electric buses–will make our air cleaner and improve public health, and create important energy and fuel savings for public school districts. Electrifying our homes, buildings, and vehicles is one of the surest climate actions that we can take right now that will help secure a more equitable, healthier future for all our communities.”
“I am excited that our iconic yellow school buses have begun this transition to zero emissions across the country, and here in New Mexico,” said Ana Rios, New Mexico Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force. “The Clean School Buses program will bring many health benefits to our children as they will breathe cleaner air. I hope to see more electric school buses in Albuquerque as we work together to reduce the air pollution impacting our beloved communities and prioritize clean air and good health for all families.”
“This is a tremendous opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our rural environment,” said Nena Benavidez, Co-Founding Director of Creciendo Nuevo México and resident of Grant County. “We look forward to the state of New Mexico taking advantage of these funds to modernize our infrastructure and provide clean, healthy transportation for our children.”
“We are so excited to see this first round of Clean School Bus rebates awarded to five school districts in New Mexico,” said Aaron Kressig, transportation electrification manager with Western Resource Advocates. “Electric school buses will provide enormous benefits to communities that are already feeling the impacts of climate change and disproportionately bear the burdens of air pollution, while also providing cost savings to school districts and health benefits for children. This EPA funding provides a great first step on the path to electrifying school transportation and reducing emissions that are driving climate change across the state.”
“Electric school buses save New Mexico school districts money,” said Tammy Fiebelkorn, New Mexico Representative, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “Transitioning to electric buses lowers long-term maintenance costs, eliminates unpredictable fossil fuel costs, and reduces pollution. The EPA funding jumpstarts a sustainable and stable future for our students and communities. Every school district should pursue future rounds of this funding.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $5 billion to help school districts buy electric school buses. The law charged EPA with distributing the funds over 5 years. School districts submitted the first round of funding applications this August. EPA received so much interest in the grant program that the agency doubled the amount of funding to be distributed this year, to nearly $1 billion nationwide.
New Mexico districts that will receive funding in the first year are: Las Cruces Public Schools, Dora Municipal Schools, Dulce Independent Schools, Lake Arthur Municipal Schools and Pecos Independent Schools.
The initial round of funding prioritized low-income, rural and tribal school districts. However, all school districts are eligible for funding. EPA will be awarding more money in future years, including $1 billion anticipated for fiscal year 2023. All school districts, whether selected this round or not, should apply for future rounds of funding.
The federal funding complements the major step that New Mexico took to accelerate vehicle deployment and unlock electrification benefits in 2019 by enacting House Bill 521. The law requires investor-owned electric utilities, such as PNM, to create programs and partnerships with school districts to advance the EV market. Additionally, the New Mexico Environment Department awarded Santa Fe Public Schools funding for three electric school buses from the Volkswagen Settlement fund.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency and clean transportation in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. swenergy.org
Western Resource Advocates’ (WRA) team of scientists, lawyers, and economists craft and implement innovative solutions to the most complex natural resource challenges in the region. westernresourceadvocates.org