At a recent conference on the 40th Anniversary of the OPEC embargo (aka “the 1973 oil crisis“), GM CEO Dan Akerson highlighted the need for domestic energy sources by revealing a new for model-year 2015 Chevy Impala bi-fuel sedan, capable of running on both gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG). That’s not too long after GM trotted out the same tired CNG fleet vehicles to the Chicago Auto Show two years in a row.
Akerson’s comments were made doubly dubious by his apparent endorsement of hydraulic fracking to extract the natural gas needed to power vehicles like the CNG Chevy Impala. Read some of his comments, yourself, and see if you think I’m reading too much into them. “We know that U.S. energy security won’t come from a one-off moonshot,” he said. “It will flow from our systematic investment in technology and innovation … our drive to get more from existing energy sources and renewables … and it will be assured by fully and safely exploiting our shale gas reserves.”
That “our” got my attentions. Do you own a bunch of shale gas reserves? I don’t. Does GM? Does Akerson? As a Republican and former manager at the Carlyle Group, which is significantly invested in energy production through its $14 billion subsidiary, Riverstone Holdings, I think the answer is: probably!
Dan goes on to talk about his kids, saying that he was motivated to push for vehicles that ran on “secure” fuels by his family. “First is the desire to pass along something good to the generations that follow us,” he said … right before he starts talking up the T. Boone Pickens plan and offering that “Natural gas powertrains are one of the areas where we have increased investment because we believe the technology can satisfy the ‘green’ needs of both the environment and stockholders.” Emphasis mine.
That’s right, kids: GM’s CEO is trying to push fracking as a green cause.
Fracking is the same process, by the way, that’s left more than 30 west Texas towns without water, caused significant earthquake damage in Arkansas, and led to toxic water– among other such things. Other such things that GM’s CEO, apparently, believes are just totes awesome.
As for the car, itself, it’s the same 2014 Chevy Impala you can buy today, with an auxiliary CNG tank in the trunk that can be “switched to” with a nicely-integrated in-dash button (seen, below). Combined with the Impala’s gasoline tank, the two fuels give the car a 500-mile combined range, though the price of the bi-fuel Impala, as well as its MPG rating on CNG, remains a mystery.