According to Associated Press reports, GM recently unveiled a plan to help reduce emissions in diesel school buses, research natural-gas-burning trains and put alternative-fuel vehicles on the road. Company officials and the Los Angeles air-quality district said the plan will focus on several air pollution sources and will encourage other companies to join forces with a district they have often considered to be the opposition.
William Burke, the chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board, said he’s already getting calls from other companies wanting to help out. ''When the biggest corporation thinks it's appropriate to do it, others follow," he said.
Cleaner burning diesel technology has been embraced by the diesel industry as a cheaper alternative to producing heavy-duty fleet vehicles powered by natural gas and other alternative fuels.
Dennis Minano, GM's chief environmental officer and vice president for environment and energy, said Southern California will benefit from the corporation's research into pollution-fighting measures.
The AP reported that GM will equip 35 school buses with particulate traps. The $250,000 donation is part of the air district's "Adopt-A-Bus" program to encourage the private sector to help clean up school buses. GM is also donating two transit buses that run on electricity and diesel fuel, nine vans that run on natural gas and gasoline, and plans to contribute material and expertise towards developing a natural-gas-powered locomotive.
The air district is currently in the process of approving rules for types of vehicles fleet operators can purchase. GM promotes "fuel-neutral" rules that would allow purchases of cleaner-burning diesel and diesel hybrid vehicles if they can be proven to reduce emissions as much as natural gas vehicles.
Environmental groups have been pushing for a full diesel ban, saying ''green diesel'' technology has failed to adequately cut the cancer-causing properties of diesel exhaust.