Austin –– Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams today continued his drive to reduce air pollution from school buses in an address to the Texas Parent-Teacher Association’s board of directors.
The Railroad Commission, Texas’ chief energy agency, currently administers $15.7 million of federal grants through its Alternative Energy Division. The grants help school districts and other public fleets buy low-emissions propane school buses, pickups, vans and fueling facilities.
Williams praised Texas PTA’s recent awards of an additional $95,654 to Leander ISD and $110,889 to Silsbee ISD for buying advanced-technology propane school buses. PTA’s Clean School Bus grants are funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under that agency’s Supplemental Environmental Project program.
“Propane helps school children and taxpayers breathe a little easier,” Williams said. “Leander and Silsbee ISDs reduced smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 13 tons by replacing their older diesel buses with propane.
“These districts’ new buses also reduce emissions of particulate matter (soot) to virtually zero,” Williams said. “Particulate matter is the smoke you see coming out of an old diesel school bus. That stuff is not good for kids’ lungs—or for you parents helping out the little ones at the bus stop, either.”
Williams also said alternative fuels like propane and natural gas benefit Texas’ economy. “Texas produces more propane and natural gas than any other state. So the more propane and natural gas we use in value-added markets like engine fuel, the more our state’s economy benefits,” he said.
Economic benefits apply at the local level as well, according to Williams. Based on miles traveled, fuel economy and fuel-price numbers from a current propane school bus fleet, school districts can save about $3,000 per bus each year by using propane. Fleets can estimate their own savings by entering their annual mileage, fuel cost and miles per gallon data into the Grant Calculator on the Railroad Commission’s Web site.
For more information on the Railroad Commission’s grant program for school buses, visit the Alternative Energy Division’s Web site. For more information on the Texas PTA’s Clean School Bus program, visit the Environmental Awareness page on the Texas PTA Web site .
Governor George W. Bush appointed Michael Williams to the Railroad Commission in December 1998. Williams chaired the Commission from July 2007 to February 2009 and previously served as chair from September 1999 to September 2003. Williams was elected statewide most recently in November 2008 to a six-year term expiring in 2014. He is the first African-American in Texas history to hold an elected position in the executive branch of Texas state government. In December 2002, Governor Rick Perry appointed Williams to chair the Governor’s Clean Coal Technology Council. In March 2006, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Bodman appointed Williams to the National Coal Council.