A national consumer awareness campaign aimed at owners of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) was officially launched in Orlando, Fla., at the recent Farm-to-Fuel Summit.

The project is a cooperative effort between key Florida state government interests, gasoline/E85 distributors, ethanol companies, and several non-profit environmental and energy advocacy groups.

The Florida Farm-to-Fuel Summit provided the forum for Charles Bronson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to announce that the state would be taking a proactive role aimed at increasing the use of higher blends of renewable biofuels, like ethanol, in FlexFuel Vehicles (FFVs).

"Our state has developed a comprehensive strategy to become more energy independent with clean, sustainable, and affordable fuel sources," said Florida Governor Charlie Crist. "Today's announcement is one more step that our state can take in the effort to become better stewards of our natural resources."

"We can stimulate the state economy and create new biotech jobs simply by using more ethanol. Several advanced biofuel projects in our state will use our abundant renewable biomass resources, waste from our agriculture processing plants, and trash from our cities. There are hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in Florida for these second generation ethanol plants and we need to develop the market by educating consumers now," said Bronson.

There are more than eight million FFV owners in the U.S. and 500,000 in Florida. Hundreds of auto dealers in the state will be selling millions more FFVs in the next few years. Project organizers say the program will be duplicated in states across the U.S. and can play a key role in meeting national renewable fuel use requirements.

"The FFV Awareness driver education project is designed to locate and encourage drivers of FFVs to try higher blends of ethanol when they are available. This will help Florida meet its goals of reducing the cost of and reliance on imported oil, improving air quality, and creating economic development opportunities — all while reducing greenhouse gases. This is a win-win-win for Florida drivers, the state government, and the nation," said Douglas A. Durante, director of the Clean Fuels Foundation.

There are currently 30 E85 stations in the state, with a majority of them located in the south Florida market.

"Ethanol is the only renewable alternative fuel available today that is noticeably reducing our dependence on imported oil," said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. "Americans are willing to support a domestically-produced, renewable fuel over imported oil if they know where to buy it and if they can use it. Making consumers aware of their fueling options puts the drive for energy independence in their capable hands. By partnering with the industry, the state of Florida is leading by example."

The Clean Fuels Foundation and the FlexFuel Vehicle Club of America are the project organizers in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The lead sponsor for the pilot project is the Renewable Fuels Association. Other project supporters include General Motors, Verenium, Protec Fuel Management, Urbieta Oil, Florida Biofuels Association, and the USDA Office of Energy Policy and New Uses.