On August 4, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill (A1282) requiring the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement a three-year “Electric School Bus Program” to provide funding for the purchase of electric school buses and charging infrastructure across the state and to assess a variety of operational issues related to school bus electrification.
“In order to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions and optimally capitalize on the benefits of vehicle electrification, we must electrify not just the cars that bring us to work, but the buses that safely deliver our children to school,” said Murphy. “Some of the most important vehicles traversing our state’s roads and bridges are the buses connecting our children and families to our nation-leading public school system. It is our responsibility as elected officials to ensure that those vehicles do not adversely affect the health outcomes of our students as they grow, learn, and prepare to lead New Jersey toward a more sustainable future themselves.”
Through the Electric School Bus Program, the DEP will issue $15 million in grants in Year One and up to $15 million in Years Two and Three for a total of up to $45 million over the course of the three-year program. Grants will be awarded to at least six school districts or bus contractors annually. In each year, at least half of the school districts or school bus contractors selected by the DEP—and at least half of the grant funding awarded by the DEP in each year – will be allocated to a low-income, urban, or environmental justice community in order to mitigate the disproportionate health impacts of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles on vulnerable populations.
Funding for the program can come from the Clean Energy Fund, the Global Warming Solutions Fund (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative proceeds), monies available from utility programs to upgrade electrical infrastructure for vehicle charging, appropriations, or any other available funding. For Year One, the program’s budget comes from the General Fund.
“By getting our children off diesel and on to electric school buses, we are better protecting their health and our entire communities from the particulate matter diesel buses spew into our neighborhoods,” said Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “These investments will also help New Jersey to reduce its reliance on dirtier fossil fuels that are hastening climate change, extreme heat, and flooding. We should be proud of the leadership that Governor Murphy and our Legislature are showing the country–that we can improve health and fight climate change through wise government-led investment in our children and communities.”