Lowery continues GM's effort to replace CAFE

Elizabeth Lowery takes over General Motors' environmental helm at an unsettled time.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, federal energy policy has been thrown into doubt. The debate over raising corporate average fuel economy standards has seemingly been tabled as Congress faces national security issues.

"With respect to legislative activity, I think everything is very uncertain in the current environment," Lowery said. But, she said, GM will continue to press the policies it had under Dennis Minano, vice president of environment and energy. Minano, 55, announced his retirement Thursday, Oct. 11.

Lowery, 45, was appointed his successor, effective today, Oct. 15. She had been GM North America vice president and regional counsel.

Lowery said she worked with Minano to develop GM's environmental principles and to become an early adopter of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies principles, an environmental code of conduct for businesses.

She said GM will continue to push for an alternative to CAFE, which the company calls a failed policy. GM contends it will do a better job of increasing the fuel economy of its vehicles by pushing technological improvements without regulatory requirements.

Lowery also said GM is likely to find ways to advance the stationary fuel cells it has developed to power factories and offices. "We are working on that," she said. "We're very excited about the fuel cell technology and the potential it has for us."

GM has said it expects to market fuel cell powered cars within a decade. Fuel cells create electricity via a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. They can be pollution-free if pure hydrogen is used as fuel.

You can reach Dave Guilford at dguilford@crain.com

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