America Must Support Efforts to Repower the Auto Industry

NWF   |   March 18, 2009

LJS_4C_formal head shot Cross posting from General Motors’ website:

What’s the head of America’s largest conservation organization doing posting on a General Motors blog? Let me start with a story. Back in my college days, I worked as a GM-trained mechanic and I worked in a Chevrolet body shop. When I told my boss I was quitting to go work in Harrisburg as a staffer in the Pennsylvania state legislature for half the pay, he thought I was crazy.

Fast-forward to today, as both the auto industry and our environment face unprecedented and interconnected challenges. We’re asking companies like General Motors to make transformational changes to their vehicles so that we can break our dependence on dirty fossil fuels and protect our planet’s climate for our children’s future. While the crises that face America – economic, energy and climate – are interconnected, so are the bold, innovative steps that can help solve them.

That’s why I joined GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner at a meeting with journalists in Washington, DC today to show the National Wildlife Federation’s support for the auto industry’s ongoing effort to repower itself. If we’re going to fix our America’s problems, we can’t define ourselves only by industry or interest – we’re all in this struggle together.

Our top priority must be a cap on carbon pollution to give both the auto industry and consumers a clear signal that America’s move to clean energy is coming and will be permanent. That cap will spur:

· Investment in clean energy to drive implementation of wind and solar power

· A smart grid to deliver clean energy from the places it’s most efficiently gathered to homes and businesses across the country

· Next-generation batteries to capture that energy with large-scale storage

GM’s proposed electrification of its vehicles 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. And through the huge auto supply chain, next-generation vehicles get us green jobs across America. This scenario is not far off into the future – it is within our reach, if we make the right investments, right now.

We are in a race against time if we hope to confront global warming. We need companies such as GM, with its huge capacity and huge reach, to join with us in making huge changes that will improve our economy and the environment. That’s what GM’s plan will do, and that’s why I was there today, to support its efforts to be part of the solution.

Larry Schweiger

Published: March 18, 2009