TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — On Monday (April 19), the Cherokee Nation unveiled its first electric school bus, the first of its kind in Oklahoma and two public, rural eco-friendly electric buses to transport employees and tribal citizens to work and tribal health centers.
The electric transit buses and charging stations built to accommodate them were purchased through a $1.5 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant, along with other funding sources, as part of Cherokee Nation’s ongoing effort to reduce its carbon footprint.
The $375,000 electric school bus is for student transportation at Sequoyah High School.
“The Cherokee Nation has always been a leader in environmental conservation and forward-thinking efforts that will reduce harmful activities impacting our natural resources,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Cherokee Nation is working to reduce its carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2027 and says it's wisely investing in sustainable projects that will have many long-term benefits.
"Our responsibility as stewards of the land, air and water will always be one of our most significant values, and introducing these eco-friendly transit vehicles into our fleet is an example of how we can make a great difference in our environment,” said Hoskin.
The electric transit buses will be used to replace existing diesel-powered buses serving routes between Tahlequah and the Catoosa-area, and West Siloam Springs and Stilwell and are expected to reduce harmful carbon emissions within the tribe’s jurisdiction by more than five million pounds over the lifespan of the vehicles, producing zero tailpipe emissions.
“Taking care of our land, our water and our air has always been important to Cherokees. We understand the sacred responsibility that comes with being good stewards of everything the Creator has given us,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “Replacing traditional transit buses with eco-friendly vehicles is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint we are leaving on the Earth.”
Cherokee Nation unveils first electric school bus in Oklahoma plus two electric transit buses
Cherokee Nation is the only tribe in the country and the only entity in Oklahoma to receive federal grant funding in 2018 to purchase the two electric transit buses that will be used to transport tribal citizens and employees.
“I’m proud that the Cherokee Nation is continuing to lead the way among local, state and federal governments as well as tribal nations as we find new and innovative ways to better care for our environment,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Chad Harsha. “These new eco-friendly transit routes and our new electric school bus will soon be providing reliable transportation that helps our citizens and students.”
On Earth Day (April 22), a solar panel roof installation will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at the Mid-County Community Building in Adair County.
Principal Chief Hoskin will read an Earth Day proclamation celebrating the tribe’s clean energy initiatives such as investing millions of dollars into sustainable communities by providing solar panel roofs at Cherokee community buildings in an effort to lower utility costs and provide renewable energy upgrades.