Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is reacting to a ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rescind award funding Monongalia, Mineral, and Harrison Counties to purchase zero or low-emission school buses.

As part of the Bipartisan Law Clean School Bus Program $18,560,000 was made available for Cabell, Clay, Calhoun, Kanawha, Mineral, Monongalia, Harrison, Grant and Lewis Counties. The EPA removed Monongalia, Mineral and Harrison Counties because of methodological errors in their identification of rural areas in mountainous regions.

“I am disappointed that Mineral, Monongalia and Harrison Counties will not be able to purchase new buses due to the EPA’s flawed and outdated methodology. For over a decade, I have been working on making sure rural areas within Appalachia receive the federal investments they deserve and this is a clear example that more work needs to be done. The EPA committed to working with my office to ensure their methodology is improved so these counties can receive full funding in the next grant cycle,” said Senator Manchin.

All three counties qualify for Title I funding, for schools with a high proportion of low-income students, the three West Virginia school districts did not meet the 35,000-student threshold, making them ineligible for self-certification.

West Virginia is the only state that lies completely within the Appalachian Mountain region and has a higher mean elevation than any state in the East. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau ranks West Virginia is the third most rural state in the nation, with 51.8% of the state’s population living in rural areas.