Biden Admin Hands Out $1.7 Billion For Electric Buses Despite Their Propensity To Burst Into Flames

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The Biden administration is handing out nearly $1.7 billion across 46 states and territories to buy electric and low-emission buses despite their susceptibility to catching on fire, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Monday.

The federal government has already spent $3.3 billion on the bus electrification projects prior to Monday’s announcement, and reportedly plans to spend a further $5 billion in the next three years as outlined in the bipartisan infrastructure law, according to The Associated Press. Electric buses have burst into flames due to battery malfunctions in Wichita, Kansas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Hamden, Connecticut, since July 2022, according to local reports.

The most recent round of funding will allow state and local governments to buy more than 1,100 fully electric buses, according to a DOT press release. The funding falls in line with President Joe Biden’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the American economy by 2050, according to the same press release.

The Connecticut fire prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a partial recall of electric buses which were to be used in the Washington, D.C., metro bus fleet, according to WAMU. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg hailed the administration’s support of electric buses with taxpayer dollars as “unprecedented levels of investment when it comes to putting modern cleaner buses on the road,” according to the DOT press release. (RELATED: Buttigieg Admits He Failed To Remove ‘Systemic Racism’ In South Bend)

Critics of electric vehicles and buses have highlighted their more carbon-intensive battery production process and problems with their range and efficiency in addition to safety concerns regarding their lithium-ion batteries, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate Portal and Autotech Training.

Before the November 2022 electric bus fire in Philadelphia, city officials reportedly shelved most of the electric bus fleet in 2020 because the buses had exhibited other dangerous defects, including cracked chassis, according to WHYY. Monday’s announced funding includes about $116 million for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and $104.1 million for the municipal transportation service in Los Angeles to acquire electric buses, according to the DOT press release.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm held a board seat for one of the nation’s largest electric bus manufacturers, Proterra, before joining Biden’s cabinet and did not sell her shares in the company until several months after her confirmation. Granholm’s Proterra shares netted her about $1.6 million in capital gains when she eventually sold them in May 2021, and the Biden administration has promoted Proterra as a part of its larger electric vehicle and green energy agendas, according to CNN.

As a candidate for the presidency in 2019, Biden delivered a personal “guarantee” that his administration would “end fossil fuels.” Despite the apparent propensity for electric buses to catch fire, the Environmental Protection Agency asserts that safety and other concerns regarding electric vehicles are “myths,” according to its website.

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