GM’s Akerson calls for national energy policy

The head of General Motors called Wednesday for President Obama to create a national panel to craft a long-term energy policy, built on the nation’s newfound bounty of natural gas and tight oil.

Daniel Akerson, who has served as GM’s chairman and CEO since 2010, also said his company is building more natural gas vehicles — including those that can run on either compressed natural gas or gasoline until the alternative fuel is more widely available — in order to take advantage of the cleaner burning fuel.

Akerson spoke Wednesday to delegates at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference, and his call for a long-term national energy policy echoed that of other executives, who said their companies are reluctant to invest in multibillion dollar infrastructure projects without some assurance of where the country is headed.

“Everywhere you look, there’s an opportunity to seize the energy high ground,” he said.

On Twitter: More quotes from Akerson’s talk and other top tweets from CERAWeek 2013

He suggested a “blue-ribbon commission” made up of energy producers and consumers, asked to develop a plan to improve the nation’s standard of living by extending the national shale gas and tight oil “dividend.”

That would include affordable energy, cleaner air and water and a lower trade deficit, he said.

Previous presidential commissions, notably the Simpson-Bowles commission charged with finding a way to lower the national deficit, haven’t succeeded.

But Akerson said after his speech that he’s not discouraged.

“There’s a clear need and it has long-term impact on many levels,” he said.

That could be said of the Simpson-Bowles commission, he acknowledged. “But just because it didn’t take hold in that instance doesn’t mean it wouldn’t take hold here. Call me a fool, but I’ll take another tilt at the windmill.”