OPINION: Preserving Our Natural Resources - Southern Maryland Headline News

OPINION: Preserving Our Natural Resources

By Governor Martin O'Malley

This week, we announced plans to expand our alternative fuel infrastructure by building four new E-85 stations for state-owned vehicles capable of running on a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Currently, 1,200 vehicles in the State's fleet are able to run on E-85, and we're adding about 200 per year as vehicles are replaced and rotated out of service. Just two years ago, only one such pump existed. Since then, two more have been added and plans are now underway for construction of four additional facilities.

These upfront investments in our alternative fuel infrastructure will position Maryland to take advantage of the rapid advances in the next generation of ethanol, which are made from non-food based crops, like switch grass. These new products promise to be even more affordable while still reducing harmful nitrogen emissions to the Bay by 80-90%. And automobile manufacturers are beginning to respond to the demand for cleaner, more sustainable options as well. Currently, so-called “flex-fuel” vehicles are available at unprecedented levels, driving the public demand for a similar infrastructure for consumers.

Fortunately, in Maryland, we're blessed with talented citizens who've helped us not only catch up to other states, but actually take the lead in this effort. And Maryland is leading by example. This week, I directed the Department of General Services to use a five percent biodiesel fuel blend in its entire diesel vehicle fleet, which, if implemented statewide, would replace 180 million gallons of diesel fuel, displace 1.4 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and save drivers $20 at the pump. In addition, I've asked the Maryland Energy Administration and other agencies to identify specific steps that will ensure accelerated transition toward electric vehicles in Maryland.

We owe this commitment to future generations. Today, I'll personally congratulate 118 graduates of Maryland's Civic Justice Corps, a new summer job program that offers environmental education and training to at-risk youth. These students spent the summer engaged in projects to beautify our State parks, maintain our recreational areas, and ensure that visitors to Maryland State Parks benefit from their activities for years to come.

It's vitally important that we make decisions that are derived from our highest ideals for our future – not only for ourselves, but for our children. Coming together as One Maryland, we have worked tirelessly to build a more sustainable energy future to preserve and protect Maryland's natural beauty.

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