Today, Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16) visited Appomattox Bio Energy ethanol production facility in Hopewell, Va. The Appomattox plant is the first biofuel plant located in the United States that has the ability to use any major grain to produce fuel. Recently, investors have been looking at sites in Lancaster County that could support a similar facility.
Rep. Pitts' statement follows:
"Today, I had a great opportunity to visit a one-of-a-kind ethanol plant in Virginia that could contribute to energy independence and a cleaner environment. The barley this plant uses to make fuel is planted on fields typically left fallow over the winter. Growing a crop over the winter soaks up nutrients that would otherwise be washed into the Chesapeake.
"As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I'm looking into how federal law affects ethanol production. Today's visit was a good opportunity to see a company that is doing something new in the area of biofuel production."
Background: The majority of biofuel facilities in the U.S. use corn or soybean to produce fuel. Winter barley will be the primary source of fuel when the Appomattox plant is completed. This crop is planted on fields that are typically left fallow during the off-season, potentially giving farmers an added source of income.
Use of winter grains in biofuel production would have positive environmental effects. Planting winter crops reduces nitrogen fertilizer runoff by soaking up nutrients outside of the standard growing season. Decreased nitrogen runoff could improve the health of local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.
Additionally, the Appomattox plant produces a minimal amount of waste by using ethanol byproducts to manufacture both livestock feed and fuel pellets.