August 18 News: GM Boosts Mileage With Aerodynamics; Shell Pipeline Still Leaking; Wal-Mart Canada Goes 100% Renewable

Chevrolet Malibu aerodynamic engineers John Bednarchik and Suzy Cody helped make the 2013 Malibu ECO Chevrolet’s most fuel-efficient midsize car in 100 years. Aerodynamic improvements in the new Malibu give customers up to 2.5 miles per gallon more on the highway. (Photo by GM)

GM improves aerodynamics of 2013 Malibu for up to 2.5 mpg gain on highway

GM engineers have removed more than 60 counts—a count is 0.001 coefficient of drag—of wind drag from the 2013 Malibu as a result of the new Malibu’s shape and fine-tuning of the car’s exterior design. These aerodynamic improvements give customers up to 2.5 miles per gallon more on the highway, the company says.

Initial testing of pre-production Malibu vehicles in GM’s wind tunnel has recorded a low drag coefficient nearly as efficient as the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle of .28 Cd.

Some of the Malibu’s key aerodynamic features that help improve fuel economy include:

  • 11 counts: Outside rearview mirrors are specifically designed to deflect wind without “upsetting” the airflow.
  • 10 counts: Rounded front corners—from the bottom of the fascia up through the headlamps—help air flow smoothly along the Malibu’s body sides.
  • 7 counts: Shutters in the lower grill opening on select models open and close automatically to maximize aerodynamic efficiency. This increases cooling airflow to the engine under certain conditions, such as under high engine loads at low speeds, and reduces aerodynamic drag when extra cooling is not needed.

Investors Slam Company for Not Disclosing Climate Risks to Its Coffee Business

Two firms representing shareholders of J.M. Smucker Co. are demanding that the company clarify how climate change will affect the supply and price of coffee beans and, ultimately, how it will affect investors.

The company — better known for producing Smucker’s brand jams and syrups — also owns the Folgers, Dunkin’ Donuts, Millstone and Kava brands of coffee. It has stalled behind their competitors in assessing how climate change will affect its coffee supply chain, say sustainable investment firms Calvert Investment Management Inc. and Trillium Asset Management LLC.

The firms will introduce a resolution at the J.M. Smucker shareholder conference today, in hopes that investors will vote in favor of greater clarity.

“Because coffee accounts for 40 percent of [J.M. Smucker’s] net sales and 48.6 percent of profit, and the coffee industry is particularly susceptible to climate change-related impacts, [the company] must provide a robust assessment of climate change risks to its coffee business supply chain,” states a letter (pdf) sent to shareholders, urging them to vote yes on the resolution.

The resolution requests that the company’s board of directors release a report describing J.M. Smucker’s management of the social and environmental risks to the coffee supply chain within the next six months. More specifically, Trillium and Calvert — which represent more than 400,000 investors — ask that the board address the effects of temperature increases, erratic rainfall and corporate responsibility toward coffee growers and their families.

“Not having disclosure on this type of information was a red flag to us as investors,” said Rebecca Henson, a sustainability analyst at Calvert, which owns more than 4,000 shares in the company. “Given how much their revenue is vulnerable, we felt a lot more needed to be done.”

Shell says lots of oil still in leaking pipeline

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell said a large volume of oil remained in its leaking pipeline, raising the possibility that Britain’s worse oil spill for a decade could worsen, but said the extra amount would only seep out in a worse case scenario.

Oil leaked into the sea off the coast of Scotland for a seventh day on Wednesday as Shell said it was planning extensive activity including the deployment of divers to completely stop the flow of oil.

The company told reporters on a conference call its estimate of the total volume of oil which had leaked remained at just over 218 tonnes, in line with a figure given on Monday, as oil continued to trickle out at the rate of one barrel a day.

Up to 660 tonnes could remain in the pipeline at the Gannet field, however, said Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell’s European exploration and production activities, and the company was focusing on how to deal with it.

U.S. Rep. Gardner draws heat for record on environmental issues

Freshman Republican Congressman Cory Gardner weathered a drawn out primary battle last year to ride the Tea Party wave to victory over Democrat Betsy Markey. Less than a year later, he’s again navigating the increasingly rocky electoral waters of Colorado’s sprawling Fourth District.

Bipartisan participants in a town hall two weeks ago assailed him over free-trade job loss and GOP-proposed cuts to Medicare. And last week Fort Collins-based Clean Water Action launched a campaign arguing that Gardner’s brief voting record in Washingtonestablishes him as perhaps the most anti-environmental member of Congress in the state’s history and therefore deeply out of step with the district he represents.

“This is a conservative district but not an anti-environment district,” Clean Water Action Director Gary Wockner told the Colorado Independent. Wockner says his group has knocked on 25,000 doors in the district since January to draw attention to Gardner’s “aggressively anti-environment” positions, he said, pointing in particular to Gardner’s repeat votes in favor of diluting the forty-year-old Clean Water Act.

“There is no outcry to attack the Clean Water Act,” Wockner said. “Nobody is talking about the Clean Water Act up here. It’s a well-established law that forces polluters to clean up after themselves. No business or organization or any other entity I know of here sees the Clean Water Act as causing trouble. This is coming from Gardner alone.”

Mining Executive Kuhn Declared Fugitive by EPA on Arsenic, Lead

Former mining-company executive Peter Kuhn was declared a fugitive by the Environmental Protection Agency after he failed to turn himself in for his role in a conspiracy to illegally dispose of arsenic and lead.

Kuhn, former president of Reno, Nevada-based French Gulch Nevada Mining Corp. and Bullion River Gold Corp. (BLRVQ), engaged in a conspiracy to dump mining wastes on a hillside, county road and stream near a company mine, the EPA said today in a statement. If convicted, Kuhn faces a possible prison term of 20 years.

On July 1, 2010, a U.S. District Court grand jury in the Eastern District of California returned an indictment charging Kuhn with one count of conspiracy and other crimes. Kuhn, 56, becomes the 18th fugitive listed by the agency, according to the EPA’s website.

Wal-Mart Going 100% Renewable in Canada

Wal-Mart Canada has revealed that they’re working towards getting 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy.

To meet that goal, two large Canadian stores have been outfitted with rooftop solar panels and wind turbines, with other major projects on the way.  The retail store intends to generate enough renewable energy to sell some back to the grid.

Hopefully, these plans extend to the U.S. as well.  Many stores here have been outfitted with solar panels, and a New Jersey store will soon replace all its light poles with wind turbines, but the company has indicated that they’ll only work towards being completely powered by renewable energy if that renewable energy matches or beats grid parity.  So, as long as it’s cheap.


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