John Wayne Airport will soon start replacing all of its compressed natural gas-powered buses with zero-emission electric buses, County of Orange officials announced yesterday. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Airport Zero Emissions Vehicle and Infrastructure Pilot Program will provide a $2.1 million grant that will fund about 80 percent of the purchase of three 35-foot electric shuttle buses.
“The ZEV program is designed to facilitate the implementation of zero emissions vehicles at Airports, encouraging technology advancement and raising community awareness,” said Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett in a Sept. 23 news release sent out by airport officials. “By switching to electrically-powered shuttle buses the Airport will reduce emissions and improve Airport air quality.”
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), lowering pollution emitted by buses and heavy trucks “is critical for improving air quality and reducing global warming emissions in communities around the country.” In fact, this UCS fact sheet states that “a battery-electric bus on today’s electricity grid is the lowest-carbon option in every part of the country.”
The shuttle buses at John Wayne Airport move people between the terminal and the public and employee parking lots located on Main Street. The FAA grant will start a four-year project that will see three or so older CNG buses replaced with electric buses each year. The first phase of the project also includes electric charging stations and the infrastructure needed to support the buses. John Wayne Airport officials hope to have the new buses running by 2021.
While eliminating bus emissions is great, it would be even better if we could do something about commercial airliners. According to this New York Times story published on Sept. 19, a recent United Nations forecast found that airliners emitted about 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, and will put out about 2.7 billion tons of the greenhouse gas by 2050.
“Airlines, for all intents and purposes, are becoming more fuel efficient,” said Brandon Graver, who led the new study, in the story. “But we’re seeing demand outstrip any of that. The climate challenge for aviation is worse than anyone expected.”
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.