LANDOVER, Md. — Vice President Joe Biden marked Earth Day by announcing that $300 million in federal stimulus money will go to cities and towns to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Speaking at a maintenance facility for Washington's Metro transit system, Biden said Wednesday that going green doesn't just benefit the environment. He said it also helps economic investment and reduces the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
"We're going to put Recovery Act dollars to work deploying cleaner, greener vehicles in cities and towns across the nation that will cut costs, reduce pollution and create the jobs that will drive our economic recovery," he said.
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State and local governments and transit agencies are eligible to apply for the funds, though they must agree to match half the amount they are allocated.
The money can be put toward the purchase of hybrid, fuel cell and natural gas vehicles and finance the infrastructure to fuel them. The money also can be spent on public awareness campaigns and training programs on advanced technology vehicles.
The Metro transit agency, for instance, says it plans to apply for a $15 million grant that would help purchase 150 hybrid-electric vehicles.
Biden was joined by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has committed to convert the entire Maryland Transit Administration bus fleet to hybrid-electric buses by 2014. The state says hybrid buses use up to 20 percent less fuel and are up to 40 percent quieter. They are also more reliable, going more than twice as long between service calls.
The money announced Wednesday is in addition to $11 billion previously announced by the Department of Energy to support state and local energy efficiency programs and weatherize low-income homes.