USDA Awards $5 Million for Maryland-Virginia Regional Partnership to Install Ethanol Pumps
ANNAPOLIS, MD – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that Virginia and Maryland were selected as one of 20 programs in the US Department of Agriculture’s Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to give $100 million in grants to install ethanol refueling infrastructure in 21 states. Maryland and Virginia will partner with private sector companies to add 41 or more ethanol refueling stations and nearly 200 additional pumps throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. With 21 states and 20 programs, the Virginia-Maryland collaboration was the only multi-state proposal selected as a finalist. This regional project is receiving nearly $5 million in federal funds with partners contributing an additional $3 million for stations and pumps to be deployed in Maryland and Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will administer the public private partnership and federal award on behalf of the two states, with the assistance of Virginia Clean Cities at James Madison University. Partners in the program include two U.S. Department of Energy designated Clean Cities Coalitions in both states, as well as agricultural and energy offices of each state. Other project partners include state grain associations and agricultural partners, as well as the significant contributions from private sector infrastructure partners such as Sheetz and Protec Fuel.
The primary goal of this project is to displace unleaded gasoline and imported oil with higher domestically produced renewable ethanol fuel blends. These will be the first pumps in Maryland capable of pumping blends ranging from E15 to E85.
“The Maryland Department of Agriculture is pleased to be part of a regional plan to increase ethanol infrastructure,” said Agriculture a Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “This project will bring greater regional access to competitively priced, clean, home-grown renewable fuel. I think consumers will be excited to have fuel choices.”
With 9.6 million vehicles in the Mid-Atlantic region capable of operating on either E15 or E85, this project is estimated to result in the combined sale of an additional 24 million gallons of ethanol in the form of E15 or E85 annually. This will be done by installing multiple variable fuel blender pumps at the new locations, dramatically increasing the region’s ethanol stations. This expands consumer choice. Marketing and outreach components will be comprehensive and address a wide range of fleet and individual driver audiences within VA, MD and DC. This project will determine the best messaging, and coordinate with project partners and industry leads to take best practices nationwide to reach and move audiences.
“These programs are important to our region and this partnership supports economic development and our shared air quality objectives,” said Chris Rice, Maryland Clean Cities Coordinator.
“Maryland’s grain farmers have long supported projects to expand ethanol infrastructure. We will be using Maryland Grain Checkoff funds, as part of the grant match requirement, to generate greater public awareness of the opportunities for consumers to use higher blends,” said Lynne Hoot, executive director of the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board. “We hope that these educational efforts will maximize consumer awareness and usage for higher blends of ethanol, and the connection with local agricultural resources.”
“MARBIDCO is very pleased to be supporting this regional BIP effort and we are delighted with USDA’s announcement,” said Steve McHenry, MARBIDCO Executive Director. “This really is a win-win-win situation for farmers, consumers and the environment.”
According to a study (2010) by the University of Maryland, Agricultural and Resource Economics, the total economic impact of agriculture, forestry and agricultural industries on Maryland’s economy is $8.25 billion in total output and $3 billion in value added. According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, total land in farms in Maryland is more than 2 million acres, or one-third of the state’s entire land area.
For more information about BIP, visit www.usda.gov.