Gov. DeSantis Announces $68 Million Purchase of Electric Buses; Activists ask what’s next
governor Ron DeSantis’ The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is providing $68 million to purchase 227 electric buses in 13 of Florida’s most urban counties. But at least one activist group wants to know his next steps in promoting green tech.
The project, announced Monday, is Florida’s latest effort to electrify its transportation network and reduce air pollutants associated with diesel emissions. The buses will replace existing diesel buses on the public transit systems of Alachua, Broward, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
The DEP expects the buses to be on the road within 12 months.
“This funding will help reduce emissions while upgrading our transit bus fleets to more modern standards,” DeSantis said in a press release. “This is a win-win for air quality and furthers the state’s efforts to encourage increased use of electric vehicles.”
The funds come from Florida’s $166 million share of Volkswagen’s federal Clean Air Act settlement. The settlement, reached in 2015, came after the US Environmental Protection Agency claimed some Volkswagen companies had equipped their diesel vehicles with software aimed at cheating state emissions tests.
In October 2019, DEP created a mitigation plan to build electric vehicle charging stations, procure electric buses for school districts and transit agencies, and fund projects under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act.
“Florida continues to lead the nation in air quality and is proud to be the most populous state in the nation to have met all of the EPA’s national Ambient Air Quality Standards,” said the DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton said. “By working with partner agencies and the private sector, we are able to implement projects to protect air quality and support the needs of our communities.”
Since taking office in 2019, DeSantis has placed more emphasis on the environment than his predecessors – especially now – the US Senator. Rick Scott — which helped him quickly become one of the nation’s most popular governors. As the Republican governor’s popularity waned and revived during the COVID-19 pandemic, he routinely announces environmental spending and approved record funding for Everglades projects this year.
Still, not all environmental groups are happy, like the Florida Conservation Voters (FCV). supportive Democratic US Rep. Charlie Crist about DeSantis in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
FCV Managing Director Aliki Moncrief said credit for the expenses goes to the people of Florida, who forced DeSantis to take action with the settlement money, which left Scott largely untouched. Floridians wanted to invest the money in communities with high levels of air pollution, she continues.
“Yes, DeSantis would have done better because the people of Florida demanded it,” Moncrief told Florida Politics. “I always find it interesting when big announcements like this come on the eve of a big election.”
DEP previously announced a similar project to purchase 218 electric school buses in Broward, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. Overall, the state plan calls for 70% of the $166 million settlement to be spent on transit, school and shuttle buses.
Another 15% of spending goes towards charging facilities for electric vehicles. DEP has already done that awarded scholarships To install 150 charging stations for electric vehicles along federal highways.
The remaining 15% is earmarked for Diesel Emission Reduction Act projects to reduce emissions around the state’s ports. DEP has already awarded grants to several projects in this category, including marine engine replacement, an electric freight switch and port handling equipment.
According to DEP, between $20 million and $25 million remains from the Volkswagen settlement. All of this is to go towards Diesel Emissions Reduction Act projects.
However, Moncrief wants to hear DeSantis’ plan to keep gasoline for EV spending. After nearly four years in office, she says, he’s had ample time to deliver one. Despite providing hundreds of millions in environmental funding, DeSantis has done this dismissed global warming Discussions “as an excuse to do some left-wing things”.
“That 166 million isn’t going to go far enough, and Governor DeSantis needs to think about how to sustain that when essentially federal funding runs out,” she said.