President Biden’s big infrastructure act includes $5 billion to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric buses. Perhaps that’s why South Dakota is one of just ten states that hasn’t committed to deploying any electric school buses:
Many advantages accrue from switching school bus fleets from diesel to electric, like less pollution, less asthma and child deaths, and less maintenance required on the 20 parts in an electric motor versus 2,000 in a diesel motor. Electric school buses may also improve student learning:
Cleaner air is likely to pay off in improved student performance. In a 2019 study, researchers found that retrofitting 2,656 diesel buses in Georgia – adding new components to reduce the buses’ emissions – was associated with positive effects on students’ respiratory health, and that districts with retrofitted diesel buses experienced test score gains in English and math. Since even modernized diesel vehicles still generate air pollutants, shifting to electric buses would likely produce even larger increases [Marpillero-Colomina, 2022.08.17].
Some South Dakota districts are replacing diesel buses with propane buses, which do pollute less than diesel engines. But electric buses emit zero pollution from the tailpipe, and making electricity creates less carbon pollution than making propane. Across the total production and use scale, propane actually emits more carbon than diesel:
Schools, change your engines so you can charge your engines. Swap out those diesel dinosaurs for clean, brain-boosting, planet-saving electric buses!