Hugh Weathers, commissioner of agriculture in South Carolina, recently accepted the keys to an E85-capable Chevrolet Avalanche from General Motors on behalf of the State of South Carolina as part of an ongoing campaign to promote ethanol and E-85 capable vehicles in the state.

“We are excited to continue to work with General Motors to further promote E-85 capable vehicles across South Carolina,” said Commissioner Weathers. “We appreciate GM’s support of cleaner-burning alternative fuels like ethanol and its promotion of E-85. With soaring gas prices and the use of renewable fuels like E-85 ethanol, we can save a little on the price of the trip, help the environment, and support agriculture, too.”

The announcement is part of a campaign by GM and the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition (GEC), a bipartisan group of governors devoted to the promotion and increased use of ethanol.

This collaborative effort, which began in 2005, is designed to increase awareness of E-85 ethanol and flexible fuel vehicles, and to promote the increased use of E-85 ethanol as a renewable, alternative transportation fuel that is able to meet the demands of today’s drivers. GM previously provided an E-85-capable vehicle to South Carolina for similar use in 2005.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture will showcase the E-85-capable Chevrolet Avalanche in various ways and events throughout the year. There are 34 E85 ethanol fueling sites currently located throughout the state.

E-85 FlexFuel vehicles can run on any combination of gasoline and/or E-85, a fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. E-85 can contribute to energy independence because it diversifies the source of transportation fuels beyond petroleum, and it provides positive environmental benefits in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Since research has shown that many owners of flex-fuel vehicles do not know their vehicles are capable of using E-85, GM has initiated a sweeping consumer education and advertising campaign aimed at promoting the benefits of E-85 and GM’s flexible fuel vehicle leadership, and encouraging consumers to actively promote E-85 in their communities. “Live Green Go Yellow” ads continue throughout the year with print, Web (livegreengoyellow.com) and broadcast media components.

GM is also committed to educating consumers about the fueling options they have as flex fuel owners. Later this year, Chevrolet and GMC E-85 Flex Fuel cars and trucks will come equipped with a yellow fuel cap, indicating the consumer has a choice of either gasoline or E-85 fuel. For the 2006 model year, GM offers nine E-85 flexible fuel vehicles, including the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Impala, and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. GM also plans to add more than 400,000 E-85-capable vehicles to the fleet in 2006.

At the same time, worldwide production of ethanol is increasing every year and is expected to triple by 2020.