Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Smoky Mountain Riddle about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What do Restaurants in the Smoky Mountains, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the North Carolina and Tennessee department of motor vehicles, and the Friends of the Smokies organization all have in common? Biodiesel.

Thanks to the generous support of drivers of NC and TN who were kind enough to purchase the beautiful Friends of the Smokies specialty license plates as well as a Clean Fuel Advanced Technology grant The Smoky Mountains National Park will soon be able to fuel their diesel fleet of almost 2 dozen vehicles on the North Carolina side with a biodiesel blended fuel.

Biodiesel is a cleaner burning alternative

Biodiesel is a cleaner burning alternative to petroleum diesel and is produced domestically from renewable sources such as used cooking oils, soybeans, corn and various other organic oil sources. Since it is produced domestically, it reduces our dependence on foreign petroleum and production of biodiesel creates virtually no polluting byproducts.

Biodiesel in its purest form is from 100% "organic" sources but is often blended with petroleum diesel. The National Park service will be using B-50 which means it is a 50 - 50 mixture. Regardless of the blend as long as the "bio" part f the blend is clean and pure, diesel engines usually don't require any modifications. While 100% bio is preferred this is a huge step in the right direction.

According to Dale Ditmanson the Park Superintendent "This biodiesel refueling project will help us achieve our long-term goal of stabilizing or improving air quality in the park...We also see it as a great opportunity to lead by example as we host local school groups and millions of visitors from all across the country and world."

Just having the Great Smoky Mountains National Park committed to using Biodiesel is not enough. Two distribution centers are going to be set up on the North Carolina side of the national park. The first larger Biodiesel station will be a 4,000-gallon tank at the Oconaluftee Maintenance Yard in Swain County, and the second smaller 1,000 gallon tank will be located to fill park vehicles in Cataloochee Valley. Combined these distribution points will dispense and estimated 12,000 gallons a year reducing the national parks annual consumption of petroleum diesel by 6,000 gallons a year.

Friends of the Smokies

In order the finance this incredible project, the Friends of the Smokies is donating more than $8,000 which was raised from the sales of specialty license plates in NC and TN. $20 of the $30 charged for these special plates ends up with Friends of the Smokies.

The Friends of the Smokies also secured grant that exceeded $33,000 from the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology Project, which is managed in North Carolina by the North Carolina Solar Center and NC State University. Help from the project was also received from the NC Department of Transportation, the State Energy Office of the NC Department of Administration, and the NC Division of Air Quality.

If you don't have a Friends of the Smokies license plate to help support the Great Smoky Mountains National Park order your Friends of the Smokies plate on your next Tennessee or North Carolina license plate on your next renewal!

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