MARYLAND – Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has announced plans to build ethanol pump stations around Maryland so the state’s 1,200 flex-fuel vehicles can more easily fill up with the renewable fuel, according to

The state has never been able to meet a goal set more than seven years ago under Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s administration that flex-fuel vehicles in the state’s fleet use alternative fuels half the time on average. State auditors have criticized the Maryland Energy Administration several times for falling short of that goal and making no formal timetable to meet it.

The main problem has been a lack of infrastructure. When O’Malley took office last year, the state had one ethanol pump as part of its network of refueling stations for government vehicles. Two more ethanol pumps have been added in recent months, and the governor said four more will be built in the next year. The pumps will supply E-85 fuel.

Recently, the governor announced that the state transit administration would add as many as 500 hybrid-electric buses to its fleet by 2014.

In addition to ethanol pumps in Annapolis, Baltimore, and Hanover, the state plans to place the pumps — each of which costs more than $100,000 — in Easton, Hagerstown, La Plata, and Salisbury. The state adds about 200 flex-fuel vehicles to its fleet of 9,000 light-duty vehicles annually and has negotiated bulk prices of about $2.92 for a gallon of E-85, compared with $3.14 for a gallon of regular gas.

O’Malley also announced a mandate that, whenever possible, the state’s 2,000 diesel vehicles use biodiesel fuel, which can include fuels made from chicken fat and soybean oil.