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Whether you put your children on an electric school bus or a propane-powered school bus, you’re eliminating their exposure to dirty pollutants. Unfortunately, the electrify-everything activist group Advanced Energy Economy is trying to convince New Yorkers that electric buses are the only clean solution for school districts. Their dismissal of the facts associated with electric vehicles and grid electricity is astonishing.
Simply put, electric school buses are not as clean as advocates make them out to be. When you consider the lifecycle of a battery, propane school buses are, in fact, a healthier option. The massive and expensive battery packs required for school buses contain an array of metals that are strip-mined in unregulated operations in China and the Congo by diesel-powered equipment. The carbon intensity of the extraction alone makes electric school buses a clean illusion.
What’s more, for many years to come, electricity in New York will continue to be produced by fossil fuel plants. Electric buses don’t eliminate emissions; they simply move those emissions upstream to generators often located near vulnerable communities. By the time New York weans itself off fossil fuels, today’s buses likely won’t be in-service, and renewable propane which produces almost zero greenhouse gases will be more widely available. Last month, Ray Energy announced New York State’s first delivery of renewable propane in Whitehall, NY.
Propane is designated an alternative fuel by the U.S. Department of Energy. It’s methane-free, reduces nitrogen oxides by 96 percent compared with diesel school buses, and produces virtually no particulate matter. These claims are validated in a study issued by West Virginia University’s Center of Alternative Fuels. This is the same group that exposed the Volkswagen emissions violations in 2015. Just like electric buses, propane buses eliminate the harmful black smoke that comes out of a diesel tailpipe.
When it comes to cost, there’s no comparison. Propane buses are three times cheaper than electric buses (roughly $100,000 vs. $400,000), meaning school districts on shoestring budgets can purchase more clean buses by choosing propane. It doesn’t make sense to overlook a cost-effective solution that’s available today.
The federal government is allocating billions of dollars in additional funding for alternative fuels beyond electric, so now’s the time to embrace a wider path to decarbonization. If you’re told there’s only one solution to a problem as enormous as climate change, become a skeptic immediately.
–Tucker Perkins, President & CEO, Propane Education and Research Council