Kudos to the San Jose Mercury News for breaking the story of the questionable purchase of 1100+ GM “flex-fuel” vehicles by the state of California in an effort to cut emissions. According to the Mercury News, the cars have yet to run on ethanol and models with much better gas mileage, although not “flex-fuel,” could have been purchased. State lawmakers are questioning if Gov. Schwarzenegger’s close ties with GM had anything to do with the purchase. An excerpt from the latest article on this story:
SACRAMENTO – A state senator asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office Thursday to provide dozens of documents by next week that might reveal why changes were made to both state policy and state contract bids that ultimately benefited General Motors, a longtime and multimillion-dollar donor of the governor’s non-profit foundations and political campaigns.
The request was made the day after a three-hour Senate hearing during which Schwarzenegger officials were grilled about why they purchased a fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles that have been running on nothing but gasoline for more than two years. To meet their eco-friendly goals, the cars and trucks would need to run on high-grade ethanol.
At the hearing – called in response to a Mercury News investigation into the car purchases – state officials and auto manufacturers confirmed that the contract specifications for the alternative-fuel fleet could be met only by General Motors.
The state Department of General Services has purchased 1,138 “flex-fuel” Chevy Impala sedans and Silverado pickups since early 2006. Sen. Dean Florez, D-Bakersfield, believes that Schwarzenegger’s longstanding relationship with GM, which included a stint as a spokesman for the Hummer, should be explored to see if it had any influence over how the contract was structured.