Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has awarded over $68 million to fund electric transit buses.
The governor’s office says that the spending will modernize public transit and reduce air pollutants caused by diesel emissions.
In a statement about the funding, Gov. DeSantis’ office said that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will secure 227 electric transit buses in 13 counties statewide that will replace existing diesel transit buses in Alachua, Broward, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, and Pinellas counties.
“This funding will help lower emissions while also bringing our transit bus fleets to more modern standards,” said Gov. DeSantis. “This is a win-win for air quality and advancing the state’s efforts to bolster growing electric vehicle usage.”
According to the press release, DEP has also awarded grants to seven school districts to purchase a total of 218 electric school buses in Broward, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties.
DeSantis’ office asserted that “introducing electric buses is an important and effective way to reduce harmful emissions, especially in highly populated areas where mobile sources are the largest sources of air pollution. As more and more electric vehicles are deployed, emissions of air pollutants will be reduced, which will continue to improve Florida’s air quality.”
“Florida continues to be a national leader in air quality and is proud to be the most populous state in the nation to have met all of EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Through collaboration with partner agencies and the private sector, we are able to implement projects to protect air quality and support the needs of our communities.”
In 2016 and 2017, Volkswagen agreed to pay three settlements over allegations that they violated the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) by the sale of approximately 590,000 diesel motor vehicles equipped with “defeat devices.”
The Environmental Protection Agency had alleged that the car manufacturer had equipped vehicles with computer software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests.
The bus projects are being funded by DEP’s Florida Beneficiary Mitigation Plan to spend $166 million it was allotted from the Volkswagen settlement.
Gov. DeSantis noted that DEP has also provided grants to install 150 electric vehicle charging stations along the state highway system and several DERA grants to reduce emissions in and around the state’s ports. “These projects include marine engine replacements, an electric freight switch, and port cargo handling equipment,” his office said.