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GM Looks Local For $40M Carbon-Reduction Initiative

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General Motors [NYSE: GM] stock might be up for initial public offering today under the same stock symbol as before, but the company is trying hard to show that it's not the same company in many respects.

"We'll do that by demonstrating that GM is doing things differently," said CEO Dan Akerson, introducing a $40 million Clean Energy Initiative that will, over the next year and a half, focus on smaller, community-based environmental projects throughout the U.S.

GM's own stimulus back to communities?

The initiative—in addition to driving consumers to consider GM's most efficient new offerings like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco—will fund hundreds of projects, varying in scale and impact, but the majority GM says will be community-based.

"These projects will be ones that other might not have seen nor thought of before," said Joel Ewanick, GM VP for marketing, in a conference call to make the announcement. "And it's the idea that if not for Chevy, they might not have been done."

"These projects will strengthen local economies by keeping energy dollars at home," said Eban Goodstein, director of Bard College's Center for Environmental Policy and member of the advisory board that's setting parameters for the program.

Through the program, GM will try to engage all 3,100 Chevrolet dealerships and get them involved in the idea process by encouraging local citizens and leaders to give them suggestions.

An "idea incubator"

"The really cool thing about this is that the best ideas are going to win, and it's a true idea incubator at this point," said Mike Robinson, GM's VP in charge of environmental policy.

The automaker invited experts from a wide swath, including policymakers and academics, asking them how to make a difference environmentally and strengthen economies while keeping energy dollars at home.

Examples of projects supported by the initiative include weatherizing for local schools (which might free up budget for more teaching resources), retrofits for public buildings, or small-scale wind projects. Over the duration of the project, it's expected to directly impact 1.9 million Americans and save eight million metric tons of carbon emissions—estimated to be the 2011 emissions of the new vehicles GM will sell over this next year.

Actually implemented by Bonneville Environmental Foundation in Portland, Oregon. For the project, GM is partnering with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Clean Air Cool Planet, the Climate Action Reserve, and the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College, plus other local and national groups.

In December, a panel of experts will meet to begin deciding how to allocate the money, as well as how to implement the program.

For more information on how to get involved, propose projects, or be updated on progress, visit chevycarbonreduction.com.

[General Motors]

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