Nitrogen oxides are a real challenge to air quality both in Minnesota and around the country. The federal government regulates them due to their profoundly negative impact on the environment and human health, like that of the state’s students.
One solution to reduce nitrogen oxides is the $47 million the state received from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. In a draft plan released Nov. 20, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said it would invest $23.5 million over the next four years to reduce these harmful emissions.
That includes $4.7 million for electric school buses. The simple fact is, propane buses are the most cost-effective way to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. They cost cost three to four times less than an electric school bus. The fuel is inexpensive per gallon — up to 50% less than diesel. Maintenance is low because the fuel operates so cleanly through the engine. And propane providers can install fueling infrastructure for a fleet at low or often no cost with a fuel contract.
Across Minnesota, about 40 school districts are reducing emissions and saving money with propane school buses, including in Eastern Carver County, Mendota Heights, Minneapolis, Proctor, and St. Francis. That list also includes St. Louis County public schools. Consider also that there are 18,000 propane school buses on North American roads that are used to transport 1 million kids to school every day.
I encourage the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and more Duluth-area school districts and contractors to take a hard look at propane buses.
The writer is executive director of the Minnesota Propane Association.