General Motors Co. names Michael J. Robinson to vice president-environment, energy and safety policy, replacing Beth Lowery, who will retire Oct. 1.

A veteran of GM’s legal team, Robinson most recently served as North American General Counsel.

Before taking that role in 2008, he worked as practice-area manager on the legal staff and then managing attorney responsible for a number of regulatory functions, such as environmental and vehicle-regulation policy, as well as marketing and trade-regulation issues.

Since joining GM in 1984, Robinson also has held duties related to compliance, governmental lobbying ethics and guidelines for employee conduct.

Robinson, 54, holds degrees in political science from the College of the Holy Cross and Oklahoma State University. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Villanova University in 1984 and served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force between 1977 and 1981.

In his new position, Robinson arguably becomes the face of GM’s push to remake itself into a more environmentally friendly company, focusing more on fuel-efficient passenger cars and alternative propulsion than the less-economical trucks that for years have bolstered its bottom line.

The appointment also comes as GM and other auto makers continue to push for a single government regulation covering fuel economy and carbon-dioxide emissions, despite a landmark deal earlier this year for more aggressive corporate fuel economy standards.

A final rule blending the two standards, expected to require fleet-wide fuel economy of 35.5 mpg (6.6 L/100 km) by 2016, is scheduled for implementation in March 2010.

Robinson’s appointment is the latest in a number of promotions, reassignments and retirements as GM slashes its number of executives to restructure into a more nimble organization.