• Aug 7, 2009
Among those clamoring for attention and payouts from Motors Liquidation Co., the company that assumed General Motors' unwanted assets after its Chapter 11 filing, are the environmental and economic redevelopment departments of state governments. According to reports, when GM exited bankruptcy, its polluted factory and land sites were consumed by the Motor Liquidation, allowing the automaker to avoid the responsibility of cleaning up its mess, and state leaders fear there won't be any money to clean the locations.

Before bankruptcy, GM estimated it had $1.9 billion in environmental issues and litigation liabilites. Motors Liquidation Co., though, has only about $1.2 billion to manage the entire wind-down of its affairs -- and as one might expect, attorneys handling the matter are expected to get a huge chunk of that. The figure to clean up sites in places like Buick City (pictured, before the buildings were demolished), Michigan and Massena, New York has been pegged at $530 million. However, the way it's looking, there won't be anywhere near that much money to get the job done.

The affected areas are afraid they will have to pay for the clean ups or simply let the land go unused. The problem with that: those local governments don't have the money. And they can't expect a developer to spend millions to clean up an old mess. If not Motors Liquidation or GM, civic representatives want the government to foot the bill since the current administration orchestrated the deal. No one knows how it will -- or won't -- be resolved, but the EPA has said that it's in touch with states and Motors Liquidation to "identify any environmental cleanup requirements that existed at the time of bankruptcy."

[Source: Freep | Photo Credit: Plan59]


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  • 40 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I may be wrong because it's been a while since I've studied superfund/clean up laws. I believe that GM is responsible for cleaning up the sites by law. It is not the responsibility of who ever gets it next. However, if the sites are valuable enough that they can still make money off of them after spending millions in clean up, developers may do the clean up. Big if in Middle America. The EPA doesn't have any money to clean this stuff up. There are thousands of sites that the EPA has already identified and can't clean up because it doesn't have the funds to do so. Many of them are far worse than this, ie the uranium contamination in Navajo country.

      I will never buy a GM product.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The old GM is indeed responsible, except it's bankrupt. New GM is a whole new company, whose parent happened to be old GM. You can't sue an infant for what it's parents did, so legally speaking the only GM that's on the hook is the one that's dead and broke.
        Maybe they should have renamed the company to GM^2 or something.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Holy crap!!
      Autoblog, you need to change your name to PoliticalCheapShotTrollBlog.... because that's what this site is turning into...

      Hello....Any car guys left?!?!?
      • 5 Years Ago
      it's very ironic really, just when GM starts making high quality products that people actually want to buy and begins gaining public perception they suddenly take the bailout and then file for bankruptcy. Now all the liabilities they've been freed from. It's not fair. This is just stupid. After the Malibu/Camaro/ZR1 I was beginning to gain some faith in GM. Not anymore. I will NEVER buy a GM. Ever. The 2000 Chevy S10 i'm currently stuck with is a pile of crap. I won't go into details but they're horribly made. Nothing works. It's disgusting that GM can get away with this.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Remember the abysmal environmental record of the old Soviet block? They didn't clean anything up because the government owned it. The government now owns GM. Can you say "Unforeseen second order effects"?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Buy "American" cars to support America.

      Because there's no reason ever to support a foreign company that plays by American rules over a red, white, and blue American company.

      GM and Chrysler are blights, they fester. They are shame.

      Conversely, Ford = so much win.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Toyota has never closed a plant in the US yet. Why don't you wait until they do so before assuming you know how they'll handle it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Judy

        If you treat cars well, pretty much anything that isn't a early 90's Hyundai or a Yugo will last. I've had 20 years of experience with GMs

        1984 Chevy Caprice (bought new by my grandmother and I drove throughout college)
        164,000 miles

        1991 Sunbird - 234,000 miles

        2001 Bonneville -- 165,000 miles and still drives great

        1997 Chevy Silverado -- 130,000 miles when I sold it.

        Of course I try and maintain my cars well, since I tend to keep them for a decade or longer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Tony. Ford has spent $2 billion making the Rouge site a showpiece for environmental restoration: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4843708/
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd sooner buy a Toyota than a GM because the Toyota is less taxing to the State than the GM. In reality, I don't think my next purchase will involve either of the brands.

        That said, I am a fanboy at heart. And I would love nothing more than to drop an LS7 into a ye olde car. My ideals are simply ideals. If GM made a Lotus Elise for 20K out the door, I'd be at my Chevy dealer tomorrow. If GM made a new 1980s Porsche 959 for 30k, I'd be at my bank tonight pulling a loan for that car.

        Really though, unless I find an extremely compelling reason to look at a GM, I'll avoid 'em.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Judy: It depends on the models. Many GM models are no where near as reliable, historically, as many Toyota models. However, there is plenty of data to support the fact that there are some GM models which are just as reliable and even more reliable than some Toyota models. My personal experience with GM cars from my 1993 Chevy Lumina to my 2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue is that the models I have driven are quite reliable and durable over the long term. Look at the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study. Buick has been a fairly consistent winner there for a few years now, even topping Lexus this year after sharing the top slot with Lexus two years ago.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Easy-on, Ford doesn't exactly have a great record when it comes to industrial pollution and environmental contamination of its corporate sites. The Rouge industrial basin is one of the most contaminated sites in America.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "I'd sooner buy a Toyota than a GM because the Toyota is less taxing to the State than the GM"

        Wow. Billions get sucked out of the county for starters on the retail end. And as far as taxes, just look at net federal tax dollars generate from states that have 'transplants' vs. Michigan. Look how despite adding more and more transplants to their states, they become bigger and bigger net drains.

        http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/22685.html
        • 5 Years Ago
        Forign car companies dont play by the rules.

        They built their factories during a time when there were building codes set forth to prevent this from happening.

        A 100 year old company such as gm had plants built a long time before all that. Do you honestly think that 100 yrs ago people cared about the environment or knew about what they were doing to it?

        Toyota gets help from japan about its older factories in japan. They have been allowed out from under environmental regulations for years. Do your own research and not believe all the toyota pr-heads on here.

        This is why i will only buy Ford because they are such good to the environment. Ford is the only car company (including honda, toyota, nissan) That takes responsibility for their actions.

        Ford is the only car company that has not taken bailout. Ford cleans up environment.

        Toyota and the others have all had government bailouts. From japan or korea or us in gm and fiat's case.

        Save mother earth, save usa buy fords like me and my uncles do.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I mean that Toyota is less taxing to the State-with-a-capital-S: the government.
        My tax dollars were lent to GM, well, given. GM took the money and doesn't need to repay a single dime of the money given to it last year.

        GM has actively worked against the public's best interest. I see that GM bought out street cars and dismantled public transportation. Toyota never did that in America, never to our State.

        GM was a big opponent of car safety standards and emission standards. Toyota and Honda didn't try nearly as hard to fight and belittle the State.

        GM has tried very hard to limit my choices as a consumer. You all certainly recall the lobbying efforts that tried to tax -- and we all know that the power to tax is the power to destroy (Mculluch V. Maryland)-- imports.

        @JPM100

        Your statistic is true, however, you're confusing correlation with causation. The transports build factories in more impoverished, more agricultural states because those agricultural states are less friendly to unions and usually have lower tax rates. Those states get enormous amounts of Federal dollars because of entitlement programs and military bases.


        And I know that you'll all try to tell me GM cars as reliable as any other car. And you'll tell me how you heard that from Bob Lutz and it's definitely true. But I've been hearing that claim for the past 30 years and it's never been true.

        All in all, GM imposes itself way too much for my tastes, and I'll probably never buy another car from them again.

        And you'll say "Toyota gets this from the Japanese government lol"
        And you're right. However, I don't live in Japan and I don't address my tax bill to Tokyo. If the Japanese government wants to subsidize my car, they're more than welcome to.


        • 5 Years Ago
        @Airchompers

        I am not a great fan of GM's but it is pretty weak to say Toyota is better because they didn't try as hard to obstruct emissions laws. The only reason they didn't fight as hard in the beginning was because the only vehicles Americans were buying from them were small and efficient so the rules benefited them. Once they got into the SUV and Truck market and the rules were no longer to their benefit they fought them tooth and nail. They even managed to get laws in their own country that make it too expensive to own a car more than a few years old so thank your lucky stars that they don't have more influence here. They also have managed to keep that lucrative home market pretty much closed to outside competition. No car company is alltruistic. They are all out to make a profit at all costs. Any garbage about good citizenship is just PR.

        I do have to agree with you about reliability and GM. I have yet to see any data that shows their vehicles hold up as well as Toyota, Honda and Ford. They are ahead of Chrysler but that isn't saying much. I expect their newer more polished designs like the Malibu to do better but only time will tell.
      • 5 Years Ago
      These sites aren't GM's anymore... they're excess. They went into bankruptcy specifically because they could not survive with such liabilities. If they hadn't taken bankruptcy protection, they'd have closed up shop, and there'd still be no money to clean up these abandoned sites. There is NO SCENARIO in which GM would be able to pay for this cleanup.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Isn't that the whole idea of bankruptcy--to wipe the slate clean, stiff shareholders and creditors, and toss off other onerous obligations?

      If the "new" GM is to have a chance of success it must be free of the mill stones that were around its neck for decades--whether the company was culpable or not.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Huh, what d'you know. GM gets another break.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just make some "Memorable", "clever" and "viral" ads and roll on.
      FORDMAN
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah any idiot "boycotting" GM is stupid. Boycotting never works and wasn't it Rush Limbaugh who insulted GM and called it "Government Motors" etc, and told people to boycott it and then turned around last week on his radio show and told everyone that he bought a new Suburban. Sure let's throw more manufacturing out the window. The Toyota (Wal-Mart of car companies) are annoying as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @FORDMAN
        Fordman, I have NO idea what you're talking about. But if you want to know what Rush really said, just go to his site and read the transcript. You don't need a secret password.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, I'm surprised that there are no liberal greens here complaining about how Obama has punked them once again. That must be some pretty strong Kool-Aid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The point of this story is that the Obama administration is unfairly ignoring its own laws and favoring GM.

      The same situation by an unfavored company would have Obama, Reid and Pelosi all verbally demonizing the environmentally evil company from microphones on the Capitol steps or White House rose garden as a villain that reaped its profits at the expense of locals and left them holding the bag. They are doing exactly such during this government coup of the medical business debate.

      GM dumped its polluted assets into this "Liquidation Motors Co." ruse and no one in the Obama administration--even its EPA--says a public word of criticism.

      That, friends, is pure government favoritism and selective enforcement of the law.
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