Ethics Group Files FOIA on Chevy Volt Fires

Volt fire photoThe National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today filed a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for any and all communications with General Motors (GM).

The NHTSA is investigating three fires in the battery packs of GM’s Chevy Volt following collision tests, but may have withheld information of this potential safety problem from the public for several months.

The United States government still owns a significant stake in GM.  There’s an obvious conflict of interest in a government agency investigating a government-owned company. Moreover, the NHTSA cannot be impartial because it has become a cheerleader for electric vehicles. A November 25 NHTSA statement reads, in part:

NHTSA continues to believe that electric vehicles have incredible potential to save consumers money at the pump, help protect the environment, create jobs, and strengthen national security by reducing our dependence on oil.

It is debatable whether electric vehicles further any of these goals. This sounds more a like a White House political statement. In any case, they are policy questions to be resolved outside of the jurisdiction of the NHTSA.

Through this FOIA request, we hope to establish whether public disclosure of this investigation was delayed, and whether the public interest is currently being served.

Here is the FOIA request:

NHTSA FOIA 12/7/11