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5 years after BP spill, drillers push into riskier depths

Daily Times -- ON THE GULF OF MEXICO: Five years after the nation’s worst offshore oil spill the industry is working on drilling even further into the risky depths beneath the Gulf of Mexico to tap massive deposits once thought unreachable. Opening this new frontier, miles below the bottom of the Gulf, requires engineering feats far beyond those used at BP’s much shallower Macondo well.

But critics say energy companies haven’t developed the corresponding safety measures to prevent another disaster or contain one if it happens — a sign, environmentalists say that the lessons of BP’s spill were short-lived.

These new depths and larger reservoirs could exacerbate a blowout like what happened at the Macondo well. Hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil could spill each day and the response would be slow...  (go to article)

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Michigan car insurance is the priciest in the U.S.

Detroit Free Press -- Michigan drivers aren't just dodging potholes; they're also combating the nation's most expensive car insurance, according to the latest report.

Michigan drivers pay 136% above, or more than double, the national average of $815 a year, according to a report by insuranceQuotes.com.

And Wayne County is the most expensive county within the most expensive state. Car insurance costs $2,789, or 45% more in Wayne County than the statewide average of $1,923, according to a report by insuranceQuotes.com.

Sky-high auto insurance rates aren't anything new to Michigan consumers.

But the report might add fuel to the argument that the state can no longer afford top-of-the-line coverage.

The state's lawmakers currently are debating a fast-track, potential overhaul of Michigan's no-fault auto...  (go to article)

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Hundreds protest Shell Oil plan for Seattle waterfront

Kirotv.com -- SEATTLE —

The anti-Shell Oil protesters began their march to the Port of Seattle offices just after 4 o’clock Sunday, to make their demand that the multi-national oil company not be allowed to base its drilling operation at Seattle's Terminal 5.

Their protest began two hours earlier.

It made for an impressive sight -- hundreds lining the waterfront -- galvanized by what they contend is one of the most pressing issues of our time.

"If we stop it now," said Steve Xu. "Then we stop arctic drilling."

Twenty-year-old Xu, a University of Washington student, is typical of those the issue seems to be touching.

So many people in the crowd were in their teens and 20s.

"With a community that is united around this idea," said Xu. "We can really stop the drilling. And as more people come on,  (go to article)

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OPEC: A familiar foe likely to take a backseat in 2016 elections

CNBC -- As candidates for the 2016 U.S. general election gear up for a White House run, one villain of recent campaign cycles will be conspicuously absent: the cartel known as OPEC.

With the U.S. oil boom helping the world's largest economy churn out more than 9 million barrels per day (bpd), its highest in about three decades and up 80 percent since 2008, energy prices appear to be sidelined as political theater. Should current trends continue—prices of Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate are trading near their lowest levels in nearly 10 years—energy prices are unlikely to figure prominently in the coming presidential election.

Even as geopolitical risks in Iraq, Syria and Venezuela continue, national gas prices now hover in the $2.50 range, thanks in large measure to the U.S. oil bounty.  (go to article)

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Toyota Replies To Fuel Cell Vehicle Critics: Tesla's Elon Musk Not Excluded

Forbes -- Toyota continues to go full-throttle on fuel-cell vehicles. Even calling out critics in its latest promotional video this week.

In a not-so-veiled reference to Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his comment about fuel-cell vehicles, Toyota captions the video, “Fueled by Bullsh*t | Presented by Toyota Mirai.”

In the introduction, the narrator, citing fuel-cell critics, says that “some have even gone so far to call it bullsh*t.”

That would be Elon Musk. He made comments way back in October 2013 in this video. At the 29:00 mark he said: “Fuel-cell is so bullsh*t. The only reason fuel-cell is big…it’s a marketing thing. But the reality is, you take the best-case for a fuel-cell vehicle…the cost of the fuel-cell system, it doesn’t even equal the current state-of-the-art in lithium ion batteries.”

 (go to article)

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Orphaned Oil Rejected by U.S. Refiners Takes Slow Boats to Asia

Bloomberg -- One million barrels of oil. Enough to fill more than 60 Olympic-sized swimming pools. And there it sat in tanks outside San Francisco -- for three years -- despite crude prices that topped $100 a barrel.

This isn’t the prized “light, sweet” kind of crude that is pumped out of the ground in Texas, or even the thick, sticky stuff from Alberta’s tar sands. Rather, it’s what’s known as “orphaned oil” that is so contaminated with organic chlorides that it can corrode the insides of even the biggest refineries.

Now, it’s on the move -- and guessing exactly where is turning into a sort of parlor game for some in the oil market. All that is known is that Chevron Corp., which flushed the oil from a pipeline in September 2012 and has seen its value drop by $50 million since then, is loading it on  (go to article)

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Did Ford Take Bailout Money Too? Yes They Did

chevy hardcore -- Ford Credit borrowed $15.9 billion dollars as opposed to GMAC, GM’s financing arm which borrowed $13.9 billion. These numbers make the perception that Ford was the only Detroit-based company that didn’t need a federal handout during the economic crash completely false.

 (go to article)

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Always Use Safety Stands When Working Under Vehicles

Journal-News (UT) -- A Utah man is lucky to be alive and it is all thanks to his wife's gut feeling that something was terribly wrong.

Scott Mayhew was working on his car when it fell off a jack, landing and crushing his chest, KSTU reported.
 (go to article)

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TXDOT Releases Plans On Major Redesign Of I-45 In Downtown Houston

Houston Public Media -- A series of public meetings begins Thursday night on plans to redesign I-45 between Beltway 8 North and downtown Houston. The biggest changes are planned for downtown Houston, where TxDOT is considering tearing down the Pierce Elevated and realigning the freeway.  (go to article)

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Volkswagen considering new battery design for EVs

Driving,ca via The National Post -- Volkswagen is working on introducing a simpler and more affordable manufacturing solution for its electric cars.

Speaking to Automotive News, Volkswagen’s Heinz-Jakob Neusser says the German automaker is looking into a single-cell lithium ion battery design for every electrified car under the Volkswagen AG umbrella – including Audi’s e-tron vehicles. If Volkswagen goes through with the move, it will likely utilize its battery module assembly plant in Germany to manufacture the new single-cell units.  (go to article)

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Oil hits 2015 peak as Saudis resume strikes on Yemen

AFP -- Brent oil prices jumped this week to the highest level so far this year, as the latest Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen stoked supply tensions in the crude-rich Middle East.

Related Stories1. Oil prices rebound; gold firms AFP
2. Oil surges as Saudi resumes Yemen strikes AFP
3. Oil turns higher, rallies to 2015 high on Yemen conflict Reuters
4. Oil edges up as Iran uncertainty, Yemen turmoil support Reuters
5. Nymex oil settles lower as Brent marks a high for the year MarketWatch

Elsewhere, precious metal gold sank on sliding safe-haven demand as a result of easing tensions over Greece.OIL: Brent prices on Friday hit a four-month peak of $65.80 per barrel, the highest level since December 10, as Saudi-led coalition warplanes again hit Yemen.
 (go to article)

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Rules could kick door open for nuclear power

TRIBLIVE-Dallas Morning News -- For decades, the nuclear power industry has stood at a virtual standstill, a victim of economics and fears over safety. But as President Obama prepares to issue carbon-emission regulations targeting the power industry, nuclear companies are hoping a new era is upon them.

“Something like 65 percent of the existing coal fleet will not be operating. That's (a lot) of electricity that needs to be replaced. Natural gas is going to supply the vast majority of that, but nuclear is going to have a place, too,” said Dan Lipman, vice president of the trade group the Nuclear Energy Institute.

But the industry will face opposition. Nuclear remains a divisive issue among environmentalists. Some support it as a proven means to cut carbon emissions out of the nation's power supply.

 (go to article)

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Shell's pipeline transports first oil from Delta House platform in deepwater Gulf of Mexico

World Oil -- HOUSTON -- Shell Pipeline Company's Odyssey Pipeline System successfully transported the first crude oil produced from the LLOG-operated Delta House platform in the Mississippi Canyon protraction area of the Gulf of Mexico.

"We selected the Odyssey pipeline system to deliver crude from the Delta House because of its reliability and offshore safety record," said Rick Fowler, Vice President of Deep Water Projects for LLOG. "Connecting Delta House to this system will help us optimize our resource value and continue our excellent relationship with Shell Pipeline in other areas in the Gulf of Mexico."

"The Odyssey pipeline is an ideal option for companies like LLOG because it creates opportunities for our customers to increase connectivity and access in high demand areas," said Kevin Nichols,  (go to article)

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Texas proceeds against two shale disposal wells linked to seismic activity

World Oil -- AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas has directed the Commission’s Hearings Division to initiate proceedings requiring the operators of two disposal wells in the area of Azle, Texas to show cause why the injection permits for the wells should not be cancelled and the wells ordered shut-in due to an alleged connection raised by new seismic research between ongoing operation of the wells and seismic activity in the vicinity.

The two wells at issue are XTO Energy Inc.’s West Lake SWD No. 1, Newark, East (Barnett Shale) Field, Parker County and Enervest Operating L.L.C.’s Briar No. 1, Caughlin (Strawn) Field, Wise County.

“The Railroad Commission has in place strong rules addressing the issue of seismicity and disposal well activity, and it is incumbent upon us to apply these rules  (go to article)

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Iraq Will Export New Crude Grade in May After Setting Discounts

Bloomberg -- Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, will start exporting Basrah Heavy crude next month after offering discounts for the new grade in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The heavy grade “will help us to preserve our oil qualities” and increase “output chances,” Iraq’s Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on his Facebook page. Shipments will represent a “big achievement,” he said.

Iraq is offering Basrah Heavy after facing pressure from customers to split its main Basrah Light crude into two grades to preserve quality. The country pumped 3.34 million barrels a day in March, state-run Oil Marketing Co. known as SOMO said April 16. Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Oil prices have slumped 40 percent in the past year, cutting the Iraqi gov  (go to article)

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Dubai Stocks Lead Mideast Gains After U.S. Record, Oil’s Advance

Bloomberg -- Dubai stocks climbed, tracking a record close in U.S. equities, after the price of Brent crude rose to the highest since December. Abu Dhabi shares also gained.

Dubai’s DFM General Index added 2.1 percent to close at 4,172.14, the highest since Dec. 1. Gulf Navigation Holding, a shipping company specializing in oil and chemicals, was Dubai’s biggest percentage gainer, advancing the most in more than four months. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index strengthened 0.8 percent, the most since April 2.

The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped to a record on Friday after Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. rallied on earnings results. The gauge has almost quadrupled since global equity markets bottomed in March 2009. Brent crude gained last week on concern the crisis in Yemen, which lies on one side of the Bab  (go to article)

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Railroad Commission to consider shutting down injection wells

Max B. Baker | Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- The Texas Railroad Commission said Friday it will consider shutting down two wastewater injection wells linked by a recent scientific report to a rash of earthquakes northwest of Fort Worth.

The commission will ask XTO Energy and EnerVest Operating at “show cause” hearings in June why their permits should not be canceled and their wells shut-in following a study by Southern Methodist University researchers  (go to article)

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Increased U.S. oil production keeping gas prices lower, fuel company prez says

Howard Greninger | The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind. -- At least for the next six months to a year, gasoline prices are likely to stay in the $2.30 to $2.70 per gallon range given world oil supply, a fuel company president told Indiana State University students on Friday.

“However, if oil and gas prices stay exactly where they are, we have basically cut back our oil exploration in the United States by 50, maybe 75 percent,”  (go to article)

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Richard Kinder: Industry hides from public “like we’re selling cigarettes”

Fuel Fix -- Richard Kinder, the CEO of Kinder Morgan, said that oil and gas leaders hadn’t done enough to show how important the industry is, and that as a result they’d ceded some of the debate to opponents of fossil fuels.

“We have done more as an industry to advance the cause of raising living standards across the world than any other industry I can think of, and we don’t do a great job of selling how important what we do really is,” Kinder said. “Sometimes I think we hide behind it like we’re selling cigarettes.”

Kinder said that pipelines in particular had come under attack thanks to a more extensive and public permitting process. The opposition has become more sophisticated recently, he said, and has plenty of funding.

Kinder Morgan hasn’t been targeted by protesters to the same extent as Tra  (go to article)

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Traders alarmed oil glut is a strain on West Texas storage tanks

Reuters -- Four-hundred miles from the near overflowing tanks at the U.S. oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, a second glut in the Permian Basin of West Texas is pressuring oil prices once again as pipeline disruptions strand millions of barrels in the region.

The Permian, the fastest-growing shale play, accounts for about a fifth of the country's total oil production, and is expected to produce about 2 million barrels of crude a day in May. The region houses over 20 million barrels of crude storage.

Stockpiles in the Permian have hit several records in the last four weeks, according to data from industry information provider Genscape.

Investors have zeroed in on storage, waiting for declines in weekly inventory data to signal demand is rising or production is beginning to taper off. Stockpiles in Cushi  (go to article)

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As NY readies to ban fracking, lawyers prepare to sue

Iohud -- For the past four months, the state Department of Environmental Conservation's staff — and attorneys — have been putting the finishing touches on a several-thousand-page document that will lay the groundwork for a statewide ban on large-scale hydraulic fracturing.

The agency has reason to be careful: The natural-gas industry and fracking supporters are looking for an opportunity to sue.

DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens says the report, known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement or SGEIS, is "literally at the printer." Its impending release will be closely scrutinized by advocates and opponents of shale-gas drilling, who have clashed in a seven-year battle that has long seemed destined to end in a courtroom.

"From a legal process point of view, we've been waiting for  (go to article)

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April oil price gains confound predictions – but volatility ahead

The National -- The strength of oil prices in April has confounded many predictions – and industry experts are forecasting price volatility ahead amid a stuttering demand recovery and unpredictable reactions from oil producers.

The world benchmark North Sea Brent crude oil futures had gained nearly 16 per cent from the start of April, ending last Friday in London at US$65.28 per barrel, with the week’s 3 per cent gain adding to the momentum.

Many analysts had predicted that the first quarter of the year would involve continued price weakness, as the refinery maintenance season added to the market’s woes, with Brent futures having collapsed from a high last summer around $115 per barrel to a low point in mid-January of $46.59 chiefly because of booming oil production in the US and Opec’s unwillingness...  (go to article)

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Like shale oil, solar power is shaking up global energy

Yahoo -- One by one, Japan is turning off the lights at the giant oil-fired power plants that propelled it to the ranks of the world's

top industrialized nations. With nuclear power in the doldrums after the Fukushima disaster, it's solar energy that is becoming the alternative.

Solar power is set to become profitable in Japan as early as this quarter, according to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF), freeing it from the need for government subsidies and making it the last of the G7 economies where the technology has become economically viable.

Japan is now one of the world's four largest markets for solar panels and a large number of power plants are coming onstream, including two giant arrays over water in Kato City and a $1.1 billion solar farm being built on a salt field in Okayama,  (go to article)

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Vessel that spilled fuel in Vancouver’s English Bay deemed safe and allowed to leave Canadian waters

Canadian Press - VANCOUVER -- A vessel that leaked toxic bunker fuel into Vancouver’s English Bay is being allowed to return to normal operations and leave Canadian waters.
Transport Canada says inspectors are confident the MV Marathassa’s deficiencies have been fixed and it meets regulations and is environmentally safe for travel.
The grain-carrying ship on its maiden voyage leaked at least 2,700 L of fuel into the city’s harbour on April 8, quickly spreading to popular beaches nearby.
Transport Canada says a thorough investigation of the fuel discharge continues and the ship’s operators could face fines or prosecution if they are found to have violated Canada’s shipping laws.
The federal agency says pollution recovery efforts are slowly winding down and the wildlife rehabilitation team is being demobilized.
Canada’s  (go to article)

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Ford recalls 389,585 cars for doors that fly open

USA TODAY -- Ford is recalling 389,585 late-model Ford Fiesta, Fusions and Lincoln MKZ sedans because of faulty latches that can allow the doors to fly open while the car is being driven.

Ford says the problem was limited to certain models built its plant in Mexico. It says a part called the pawl spring tab can break, which results in doors that can't be latched. The unlatching problem can occur while the car is being driven.  (go to article)

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Former BP CEO Tony Hayward: The oil market will soon prove that OPEC is 'the most successful cartel

Business Insider -- BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward agrees with OPEC that its strategy of maintaining the oil glut and thereby helping to drive down prices will quickly crush the US shale boom and that oil prices will rally sooner than many people expect.

Hayward, one of 42 speakers at the Financial Times’ Global Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 20-22, said the average global price of a barrel of crude will soon be around $80, up from the current price of about $60, demonstrating that OPEC is “the most successful cartel in history.”  (go to article)

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Michigan vote tests pothole angst vs. will to raise taxes

AP -- Drivers in the state that put the world on wheels are flat-out embarrassed by the state of their roads. Some are even scared.

Mary Jo Walentovic was driving on a Detroit-area interstate in February when a car kicked up a large chunk of road that smashed through her van's windshield, destroying the rearview mirror and an armrest. If it'd struck inches either way, the 50-year-old church ministries coordinator is convinced that she, her teenage daughter and other motorists would be dead.  (go to article)

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GM, Ford want to make working on your own car illegal

Yahoo! Autos -- One of the inherent rights of owning a vehicle is the ability to get on one’s backside — a wrench in one hand and a grease rag in the other, and just tinker to your little heart’s desire. Since the vehicle was invented, it’s been an important facet within the community of gearheads.

General Motors — the same company responsible for 87 deaths related to faulty ignition switches, FYI — wants to take that right away from you, citing safety and security issues.  (go to article)

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North Vancouver mayor latest to express concern over oil-spill response

CBC News - BURNABY, B.C. -- The mayor of North Vancouver says a fuel spill on English Bay could have been worse and he’s concerned the pace of the response suggests the Canadian Coast Guard has a “significant lack of resources.”

But the coast guard is standing by its response, saying the spill occurred in a “fog of war.”

The spill was first reported by a person on a sailboat around 5 p.m. on April 8. The coast guard has said it did not recognize the seriousness of the spill until 8 p.m. It has said a boom was secured around the leaking vessel by 5:53 a.m.

Roger Girouard, assistant commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, appeared at a meeting of Metro Vancouver mayors on Friday. One of the discussion topics was pipeline safety and Mr. Girouard was joined by Peter Watson, chair of the National Energy Board.

Richa  (go to article)

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Clean Ride Mapper helps cyclists limit pollution exposure

CBC News -- A new online tool developed by researchers at McGill University aims to help cyclists breathe a little easier.

Clean Ride Mapper can help cyclists in Montreal and Toronto find the least-polluted bike routes.

It maps out three different options: The fastest route, the cleanest route and the quietest route."It's not just for cyclists. It's for people who walk or have a store, or who live in a polluted area, too," said Marianne Hatzopoulou, an assistant professor at McGill and the brains behind the app.

Since 2012, the McGill researchers have been collecting data by biking through the city with a pollutant-monitoring device attached to the front of the bikes.

Originally, the goal of the research was to study the causes of air pollution in Montreal, but the researchers wanted the informa  (go to article)

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Tesla wants to power your home with a battery

CNNMoney -- In a letter sent to investors and analysts on Tuesday, the electric car company said it will announce a "home battery" and a "very large utility scale battery." Similar products already exist on the market, but Tesla said it will explain why its batteries are better than competitors' solutions at the event. CEO Elon Musk thinks rivals' batteries "suck," according to the note from Jeff Evanson, Tesla's investor relations director.

Tesla (TSLA) shares rose more than 5% Wednesday on the news.

Home batteries power up overnight, when energy companies typically charge less for electricity. Then, they can be turned on during the day to power a home. Though home batteries cost thousands of dollars, many utility companies will offer rebates.

 (go to article)

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Effingham just says no to Palmetto Pipeline

Savannah GA Morning News -- Effingham County commissioners unanimously voted against letting Kinder Morgan survey county property for the proposed Palmetto Pipeline.

Palmetto Products Pipeline LLC, a Kinder Morgan company, wants to use the right of eminent domain to construct the pipeline, which would be 16 inches in diameter and buried 4 feet underground. It would run from the South Carolina-Georgia state line to the Georgia-Florida state line.

The company would try to negotiate with landowners and come to agreements on one-time payments for the perpetual use of a 50-foot wide strip of their land.

Where the company and landowners do agree,landowners would retain ownership and continue to pay property taxes on the land.

Where they don’t agree, and the pipeline can’t be re-routed, KM would need to condemn property  (go to article)

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Truckers could stay off job at nation's busiest port complex

CBS News -- LOS ANGELES (AP) — Truck drivers who haul goods from the nation's busiest port complex in Southern California could stay off the job next week as part of a long-running labor dispute, union officials said Friday.

It won't be clear until next week how many of the drivers stay away, but the action could disrupt business at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as soon as Monday, after an expected vote this weekend.

About 16,000 drivers work at the ports, most of them independent contractors for trucking companies. The truckers say they face shrinking wages and want to become employees of the trucking companies, which would mean better wages and workplace protections.

Earlier this year, tough contract negotiations with dockworkers nearly closed 29 seaports from San Diego to Seattle, caus  (go to article)

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U.S. producers idle 31 more oil rigs

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- HOUSTON – The number of U.S. oil rigs fell once again this week, Baker Hughes said Friday, as producers kept cutting drilling in the face of low crude prices.  (go to article)

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An Online Tune-Up for the Used-Car Marketplace

NY Times -- Beepi acts as a broker between sellers and buyers of used automobiles and holds the potential to alter the image of the perilous used-car market.  (go to article)

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Washington’s roads in bad shape, report warns

The Spokesman-Review -- Washington has ignored its roads for so long, the state economy’s in jeopardy.

That warning comes from a report released this week by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based and industry-backed transportation research group. The study also says a third of urban highways in Washington are in poor condition, a quarter of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete and the state transportation department faces a $1.8 billion backlog in “pavement preservation.”

Standing near the partially completed North Spokane Corridor, Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, the group’s associate director of research and communications, called on elected officials to make transportation infrastructure funding a priority “at all levels.”

The report highlighted the state of pavement as integral to Washington’s  (go to article)

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China to Be SunPower’s ‘Fastest-Growing Region,’ CEO Werner Says

Bloomberg -- China is becoming SunPower Corp.’s fastest-growing market following an agreement to build two solar farms there with Apple Inc., Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said.

“We’ll get a lot of business in China,” Werner said Friday on Bloomberg Radio. “It will be our fastest-growing region in the next five years, by far. The challenge is how you do that profitably. That code hasn’t been broken by many Western companies.”

Apple and San Jose, California-based SunPower said April 16 that they expected to finish construction on two 20-megawatt projects in Sichuan Province in the fourth quarter. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

China is the world’s biggest consumer of coal “and the air quality is not very good,” Werner said.  (go to article)

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If you think this oil rally is over, think again

Market Watch -- Crude-oil futures touched their highest levels of the year this week and they’re not done climbing yet.

Marking their highest settlements since December, West Texas Intermediate crude CLM5, -0.55% the U.S. benchmark, finished Thursday at $57.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude LCOM5, +0.80% the European benchmark, ended Friday at $65.28 a barrel.

Tensions in the Middle East, particularly in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s involvement, have fueled concerns over supplies in the oil-rich region, giving oil prices a boost.

Prices have also found some support from data Wednesday which showed a weekly decline in U.S. crude production.

“We see near term momentum-driven upside potential from today’s [Brent] price levels, but record U.S. inventory levels (highest in 80 y  (go to article)

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Customize your own 2015 Dodge Viper GTC

GasBuddy Blog -- A new online customizer allows car shoppers to build 25 million variations of the 2015 Dodge Viper GTC coupe.As previously reported by Edmunds, Dodge dealers began taking orders for the new Viper GTC in February. Production begins this month at Chrysler's Conner Avenue Assembly plant in Detroit.Prices for the Viper GTC start at $99,590, including a $1,995 destination charge and $2,600 gas-guzzler tax, while the base 2015 Viper SRT starts at $89,590, including destination charge and gas-guzzler tax. ...  (go to article)

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Washington state Legislature passes oil train safety bill

Yahoo -- The Washington state Legislature passed a measure Friday to improve the safety of oil transportation amid a sharp increase in the number of oil-carrying freight trains in the state.

Lawmakers reached a compromise on the last day of the regular legislative session to resolve differences between competing versions that earlier cleared the Senate and House.

The Senate voted 46-0 and the House 95-1 on House bill 1449, which now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for consideration.

"It is a step forward in a meaningful sense," Inslee said.

The compromise includes some provisions that Inslee and Democrats had pushed for, including requiring railroads to show they can pay to clean up oil spills.

It extends a barrel tax on boat-transported oil to railroads to help pay for oil spill response but doesn't  (go to article)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
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Saudi Arabia Has a Solution to the Global Oil Glut Problem

Yahoo -- Saudi Arabia has a response to the global surplus of oil: Raise output to near-record levels and then pump even more.

The world’s biggest oil exporter, having abandoned last year its role of keeping global markets in balance, now has incentive to maximize output and undermine rival producers by using its reserve capacity, according to Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG. Just meeting its own domestic demand this summer will require a lot more fuel, others estimate.

The increase -- a snub to fellow OPEC members calling on the kingdom to cut production -- will heighten tensions when the organization meets in June. Oil plunged to a six-year low near $45 a barrel in January, six weeks after the Saudis overcame opposition within the group to keep up output despite surging U.S. shale supplies.  (go to article)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
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Gasoline prices will get pumped up next week

San Gabriel Valley Tribune -- Southland motorists should expect to see gasoline hikes of 10 to 20 cents per gallon next week because of refinery problems and other issues, an industry analyst said Friday.

Allison Mac, a petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, said Chevron’s Richmond refinery implemented an unplanned shutdown on Tuesday for flaring. That’s when too much pressure builds up due to overpressurizing of equipment and flammable gas is released through pressure-relief valves.

“An equipment outage caused an unplanned shutdown of the fluid catalytic cracking unit, which plays an important role in refining oil to gasoline,” Mac said. “They are back online and back to full capacity.”

That was the same problem that occurred at ExxonMobil’s Torrance refinery in mid-February. That equipment failure ultimately...  (go to article)

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Mary Barra's compensation triples to $15.8M in 1st year as GM CEO

MLIVE-AP -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra's compensation more than tripled in 2014 to $15.8 million in her tumultuous first year in the automaker's top job.

Barra and other top executives got only 74 percent of the cash incentives they could have received, because GM fell short of goals set by the board. But her stock awards more than doubled from 2013 when she was senior vice president of for product development and purchasing.

GM reported its 2014 compensation Friday in its proxy filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company also named a new board member and announced that its annual stockholders meeting will be held on June 9 at GM's Detroit headquarters.

Barra, 53, became the first woman to lead a major global automaker on Jan. 15. Almost immediately, she was hit with...  (go to article)

Submitted Apr 25, 2015 By:
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The Ethanol Mandate Does A Dishonor to Earth Day

SMARTER FUEL FUTURE -- Last Saturday, thousands of people packed the National Mall to attend the Earth Day concert. This year, organizers sought to highlight the dual problems of poverty and climate change around the world. As concert goers celebrated in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol building, many were likely unaware of the law put in place by their Congressional representatives in that very building, paid for by their tax dollars and implemented in their name that is responsible for increasing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (thereby contributing to climate change), severely polluting our waterways, straining already depleted water supplies, aggravating global hunger and worsening extreme poverty around the world. And while Earth Day revelers may hate the massive environmental and social damage this law continu  (go to article)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
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TransCanada seeks U.S. permit on Upland line as Keystone waits

Reuters -- TransCanada Corp , whose controversial Keystone XL pipeline project has waited more than six years for U.S. approvals, is asking the Obama administration to approve another pipeline, one that would take American crude oil into Canada.

The company, Canada's No. 2 pipeline operator, said it applied on Wednesday for a presidential permit for its planned Upland pipeline, which will carry as much as 220,000 barrels of oil per day 240 miles (386 kilometers) from Williston, North Dakota, to meet the proposed Energy East pipeline in southern Saskatchewan near the border with Manitoba.

The C$600 million ($493 million) Upland line, announced in February, will take crude from North Dakota's prolific Bakken field, where a shortage of pipeline space has forced producers to ship their crude by rail.

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Enbridge Energy seeks approval for replacement crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota

Minneapolis Star-Tribune -- Another proposed crude oil pipeline, along with another round of controversy, is coming to northern Minnesota.

Pipeline operator Enbridge Energy on Friday asked state regulators for approval to build a $2.1 billion, 337-mile-long pipeline to replace a 1960s-era Line 3 pipeline. It carries crude oil from Canada to the Midwest, but has a history of ruptures.

The Minnesota segment is part of a $7.5 billion project by the Calgary-based company to build a new 36-inch diameter line from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wis., where Enbridge has a terminal and connections to pipelines serving the Midwest, Gulf Coast and eastern Canada.

Like Enbridge’s other big Minnesota pipeline project — the proposed Sandpiper from North Dakota — the Line 3 replacement would pass through Clearbrook, Minn., sit  (go to article)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
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Our climate models are WRONG: Global warming has slowed - and recent changes are down to ‘natural va

cnn.com -- Global warming hasn't happened as fast as expected, according to a new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records.
The research claims that natural variability in surface temperatures over the course of a decade can account for increases and dips in warming rates.
But it adds that these so-called 'climate wiggles' could also, in the future, cause our planet to warm up much faster than anticipated.
The study compared its results to the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
'Based on our analysis, a middle-of-the-road warming scenario is more likely, at least for now,' said Patrick Brown, a doctoral student in climatology at Duke University. 'But this could change.'
The Duke-led study says that variability is caused by intera  (go to article)

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Harley recalls nearly 46,000 motorcycles

CNBC -- Harley-Davidson is recalling nearly 46,000 motorcycles in the U.S. because they could stay in gear due to clutches that won't fully disengage.

The recall covers certain Electra Glide, Ultra Limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King models from the 2014 and 2015 model years.  (go to article)

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Ford to Lay Off 700 Workers Due to Slow Car Sales

Associated Press (AP) Published in Product Design and Development -- Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it's laying off 700 workers at a Michigan assembly plant because of slow sales of the small cars and hybrids it makes.

The Michigan Assembly Plant, in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, will move from three shifts to two starting June 22, spokeswoman Kristina Adamski said. The plant, which makes the Ford Focus and C-Max hybrid, has been operating on three shifts since 2012.

The plant is the same one President Barack Obama visited in January to hail the resurgent U.S. auto industry. But even during that visit, the plant was temporarily shut down to prevent overproduction of the slow-selling cars. The plant also makes electric versions of the Focus and C-Max.  (go to article)

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Feds Move to Speed Approval for Wind Projects

Associated Press (AP) Published in Product Design and Development -- Federal officials are moving to speed up their review of wind power projects across the Upper Great Plains in anticipation that the industry will continue growing, a situation that's alarmed wildlife advocates who say many bird and bat species are being put at risk as wind turbines proliferate.

The proposal would cover future wind farms in Montana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Companies to date have installed roughly 8,000 turbines generating more than 12,000 megawatts of wind energy in the six states. That's almost one-fifth of the wind power in the U.S. and represents enough energy to power the equivalent of almost 3.3 million homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

With 8,600 to 30,000 additional turbines anticipated by 2030.......  (go to article)

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March U.S. Job Losses Widespread, Led by Slump in Energy

Bloomberg News -- Payrolls dropped in 31 U.S. states in March, led by a slump in energy producers such as Texas and Oklahoma. The unemployment rate fell in 23.

The plunge in fuel prices that began in the middle of 2014 has caused oil drillers and miners to cut workforces, prompting reductions among industries in the region. Rough winter weather at the start of the month could have led to job losses in other parts of the country.

Among the 18 states showing gains, California led the pack with a 39,800 increase in employment and Florida followed with a 30,600 advance.

Crude lost almost 60 percent of its value since late June, making some shale fields unprofitable to develop and forcing companies to cut back exploration prospects. Oil explorers were forced to shut down more than half the rigs drilling for  (go to article)

Submitted Apr 24, 2015 By:
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