On the first night at the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference representatives from several major auto manufacturers took part in a panel discussion about alternative fuel vehicles. After they had all spoken, the audience was allowed to ask questions. DeSmogBlog's Kevin Grandia stood up and asked his question to the senior Ford rep (paraphrased here):
"If you say that you're so concerned about climate change, and acknowledge that it's happening, and are involved in things like Terrapass and alternative fuels, then why are you still funding think tank groups like the CEI, who have a position that climate change is not happening and is nothing to worry about?"Ford's senior representative who was standing in front of the microphone didn't even attempt to answer the question. Instead one of his PR people who was sitting in the audience stood up to answer that question. He responded:
"We completely divorced ourselves from that particular campaign,"Ironically that is the exactly same response Ford gave DeSmogBlog when a leaked memo showed that Ford funded CEI's "CO2 is life" and the "Glacier" TV ad. TV ads that attacked the science of global warming. TV ads that Professor Curt Davis says misrepresent his very own papers and research.
Considering polls show the vast majority of Americans believe global warming is happening it's bad business to openly campaign against the environment. At the same time it's well known that the gold mines in the auto industry aren't the hybrids and economy vehicles but the gas guzzling SUV's and muscle cars. It looks like some people are trying to get the best of both worlds.
But it doesn't stop there, Ford has abandoned several environmental strategies including hybrid cars. The auto industry has also lobbied against higher CAFE standards. The list goes on and on. This is just one tiny slice of a much larger pie. In the end I can't blame them. The business world is ruthless and Ford is only doing what businesses do.... making money. Ford is not a charity and they are not going to spend a significant amount of energy fighting for the environment. Anyone that assumes they are needs to pay a little more attention. The only good news, for the environment anyway, is that Toyota is promoting traditional but efficient cars as well as hybrid technology and their market share is growing.
Washington Post: Ford Abandons Pledge On Hybrid Production
NYT's: Is Ford running on empty?