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Transit system uses Montana-grown biodiesel


North Central Montana Transit formally celebrated its use of Montana-grown biodiesel fuel Monday, touting its use as a boost for the environment and for the H-Line's economy. The biodiesel is made from plants grown in this area, cleaned at Peaks to Prairie in Malta and processed at Montana State University-Northern, transit system Director Jim Lyons said. "It is very clean, very efficient and virtually free of any carbon footprint," said Frank Trocki, Northern's chancellor. Magnetic signs that will be posted on the buses were formally presented to the bus system Monday, as was a symbolic jar of the biodiesel. "It's nice to be cutting edge. It's cool," Lyons said. The ceremonies were held at the end of a day in which the transit system transported people from Havre to Box Elder and to Fort Belknap and back. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the volunteers and representatives of the Montana Conservation Corps performed energy-conservation measures ranging from installing energy- efficient light bulbs to weatherizing homes. Trocki said the biodiesel program at the university is expanding. It has just received a $2.5 million grant to increase the program's reach. "It will help develop the program, especially jet fuels," he Said. Northern is working on creating a new "green degree" program that will involve both the arts and science faculties and the technology faculty, Trocki said. Lyons said he would like to see the use of biodiesel expand to the Havre airport. The transit system recently took charge of airport operations. The bus system has been successful beyond expectations, said Day Soriano, the development director for Opportunity Link Inc., the transit system's parent organization. Based on the history of a similar system in Shelby, Opportunity Link officials estimate ridership at about 250 per month, she said. "We have averaged 1,300 per month. On our best month, we had 1,400 riders," she said.


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