Gov. Cooper Joins EPA and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to unveil first electric school bus in NC

“This electric school bus is better for the environment and our children’s health, and it was made right here in North Carolina. That’s a win-win-win for our state,” Governor Cooper said.

RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — The first electric school bus was unveiled Tuesday in North Carolina.

Governor Roy Cooper joined Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to highlight the state’s transition to a clean energy economy.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality used funds from the Volkswagen Emissions Settlement to buy the bus.

“This electric school bus is better for the environment and our children’s health, and it was made right here in North Carolina. That’s a win-win-win for our state,” Governor Cooper said. “The transition to clean transportation is critical in our fight against climate change and this new emission-free bus shows just how many opportunities for clean energy transitions there are in our everyday life.”

EPA Administrator Regan also announced that the tribe has been awarded an EPA Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant to buy four all-electric school buses.

“We are grateful and excited for cooperation we have received from Governor Cooper and the Environmental Protection Agency in the effort to provide better and safer transportation for our school children,” Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed said. “We are confident that the new electric school busses will be an asset for the community for years to come.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Cooper and Principal Chief Sneed, EPA and our partners are delivering on our mission to protect children’s health and the environment and hitting the accelerator on a clean transportation future through this investment in electric school buses,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “With an unprecedented $5 billion investment in low- and zero-emission school buses from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law coming soon for communities across the country, this is only the beginning.”

“One electric school bus eliminates more than 23 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year and provides health benefits, especially for children,” said NC DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser. “The health and environmental benefits are the reason we are prioritizing electric school bus replacements with the remainder of the Volkswagen Settlement funding.”

This electric bus is part of a larger goal of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to buy at least 50% electric or hybrid vehicles when making new fleet purchases and install 20 electric vehicle charging stations on the Qualla Boundary and at tribal buildings by 2024. The tribe is also working to install electric vehicle chargers and install solar panels on residential homes.

In January, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 246 that directs the North Carolina Department of Transportation to work with public and private sectors to create a Clean Transportation Plan that will craft solutions for a cleaner and more resilient transportation system. The Order underscores the importance of emphasizing environmental justice and equity in the state’s transition to a clean economy.

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