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Cherokee school buses run on biodiesel 4-16-07

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) - The entire fleet of school buses on the Cherokee Indian Reservation run on biodiesel, and tribe officials hope other school systems in North Carolina will follow their lead.

All 28 standard-issue yellow buses that serve the reservation's schools run on the alternative fuel, which creates less pollution and provides an alternative to oil. The Cherokee Boys Club, which provides education and other services for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, installed the first biodiesel tank in October.

The fuel is also being used to run the tribe's dump trucks, bulldozers and excavators. Officials soon hope to make the conversion for charter buses and tractor-trailers used for hauling trash.

``We are trying to be a good example,'' said Frank Cooper, the Boys Club's finance manager.

Smoky Mountain Biofuels, based at the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro, sells biodiesel to the tribe. The company uses methane gas from a landfill to get energy needed to produce the biodiesel.

The cleaner burning fuel could eventually help reduce air pollution around the Qualla Boundary and the Smokies, said JoElla Jackson of the Eastern Band's environmental office.

``Once you get huge numbers of people using alternative fuels and alternative energy is when you will see a difference,'' she said.
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