Nation's Largest Conservation Group Stands Up for General Motors’ Recovery Plan

Letter to President Obama's Task Force on the Auto Industry

03-25-2009 // Aislinn Maestas

The National Wildlife Federation, America's largest wildlife conservation group, today urged the President's auto task force to support General Motors' recovery plan.

In a letter to President Obama's Task Force on the Auto Industry, NWF President and CEO Larry Schweiger said GM's plan to develop advanced battery technology for plug-in hybrid cars is "a critical step in confronting global climate change."

"General Motors is making a serious commitment to develop plug-in hybrid and electric cars, and the battery technology that goes into them, that can transform the way our nation captures and stores energy," Schweiger said in a March 20 letter to the Task Force.

Schweiger noted that a rapid introduction of affordable, plug-in electric vehicles, together with the smart grid infrastructure to make more efficient and sustainable use of electric transmission, will help the nation transition to clean energy and substantially cut carbon pollution that causes global warming.

"Increasingly electrifying our vehicle fleet is a transformational change, not only for GM and other auto companies, auto workers, suppliers and the manufacturing sector, but for everyone in this country who uses electricity in any way," Schweiger said in the letter to the auto panel. "We need to make investments in companies like GM who will deliver the technologies critical to achieving that clean energy economy."

The president's auto task force is considering whether to loan General Motors more money to keep the company afloat. A cornerstone of GM's recovery plan is the development of advanced technology batteries and increased production of hybrid and electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Volt, which is scheduled for release in 2010.

Schweiger said GM's plan to produce plug-in vehicles with advanced technology batteries — also capable of enhancing electric grid reliability and storing renewable electricity — would be good for the environment and the economy.

"The next generation vehicles being developed by GM are one of the bold solutions we need to protect jobs and create new ones while transitioning away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause global warming," Schweiger said. "Through the huge American auto supply chain — manufacturing, parts, electronics, research engineering, software — next generation vehicles made here get us green jobs across America."

The widespread use of plug-in hybrid vehicles over the coming decades could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by more than 450 million metric tons annually in 2050--the equivalent of removing 82.5 million passenger cars from the roads, according to a recent EPRI and National Resources Defense Council study.

Schweiger unveiled NWF's support for the GM recovery plan last week during a joint appearance with General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner in Washington, D.C. at a press briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

NWF does not agree with GM on all aspects of environmental policy. Schweiger said NWF has agreed to disagree with GM on the details of fuel economy regulations and will continue to push for tough standards that require automakers to meet higher fuel efficiency standards.

NWF supports a cap on carbon pollution that would cut global warming pollution and align market forces with a clean energy economy– a position the organization shares with GM. Schweiger urged investment in companies like GM that can deliver clean energy solutions on a large scale. He said the company "deserves the support of the nation."

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Contacts:
Christine Dorsey, National Wildlife Federation, 202-797-6615, dorsey@nwf.org
Zoe Lipman, National Wildlife Federation, 734-887-7108, lipman@nwf.org

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