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Tucker Perkins_01

We agree that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, recently signed into law by President Biden, will accelerate the use of propane and electric school buses, which will provide innumerable benefits to West Virginian students, their parents, administrators and others. However, it’s important to note that propane school buses provide more than long-range utilization.

Today, electric and propane school buses are the two primary ways school districts, private schools and school bus contractors can achieve the goal of ensuring children have a safe, clean, healthy ride to school. These technologies are already hard at work removing dirty diesel buses from American roads. There are 22,000 propane buses operating in the U.S. today, including West Virginia, which transport 1.3 million kids to school daily.

When we dive into these options, propane makes sense for many reasons and explains why propane was included in the infrastructure bill. Most important is that propane can meet a crucial need at a fraction of the price of an electric bus, putting more clean buses on the road faster and immediately reducing emissions.

Propane is environmentally friendly. It’s a clean, nontoxic energy source that won’t contaminate soil or groundwater. Using propane produces 43% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent amount of electricity generated by the U.S. power grid.

Propane reduces harmful nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 96% compared to diesel. We know this because of the results of a 2019 study completed by West Virginia University’s Center of Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE). The study’s results demonstrated that distance-specific nitrogen oxide emissions measured from a diesel bus were significantly higher than those measured from a propane bus.

Propane school buses also emit near-zero particulate matter from the tailpipe — that black “soot” you probably remember from your youth.

Additionally, propane ensures energy equity. The more affordable an energy is, the more equitable its distribution will be. Propane is affordable and abundant — and can immediately reduce carbon emissions. All this is in addition to the fuel range and performance that’s needed for school buses, which often have to drive long distances without stopping to refuel.

If our common goal is to replace diesel school buses as quickly as possible with clean, alternative energy sources, propane is an excellent option that is available right here, right now, making it an integral part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Tucker Perkins is the president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council in Washington, D.C.

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