Energy Quote of the Day: GM’s War on Coal

on April 30, 2015 at 3:00 PM
GM's Fort Wayne Assembly Plant uses lots of onsite-generated landfill gas – and no coal. Photo from General Motors.

GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly Plant uses lots of “onsite-generated” landfill gas – and no coal. Photo from General Motors.

Republicans have been pummeling President Barack Obama for waging what they call a “war on coal,” but you’ve got to wonder how politically useful that tactic is when one of the nation’s biggest corporations is suggesting that it wants nothing to do with comparatively dirty fuel.

General Motors this week put out a press release boasting that its Fort Wayne Assembly Plant, where it makes Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras, is “43 percent powered by methane captured from decomposing trash in a nearby landfill.” But it was a declaration about coal further down in the release, noticed by Slate’s Daniel Gross, that said a lot about the image of coal in America today.

“None of our U.S. plants use coal as an energy source.” – Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy, in a company press release

And Threlkeld doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing.

As Gross points out, this doesn’t mean that none of the electricity used at GM plants around the country is generated at coal-fired power plants. “Rather,” he writes, “GM, like other big industrial companies, has historically generated a lot of electricity and steam at its own facilities and plants. And in recent years, GM has engineered coal out of the mix of fuels used to run those on-site powerhouses.”