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As wind power booms, Texas lawmakers consider yanking support

Dallas Morning News -- What began as a goal of 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy in 1999 was eventually increased to 10,000 megawatts, to be met by 2025. But wind boomed far beyond estimates. Texas passed that 2025 goal five years ago and now counts 12,800 megawatts of wind power — at times supplying more than a quarter of the electricity on the grid.  (go to article)

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Taxes on booze, cigarettes and fuel rise in Alberta

Edmonton Sun -- Grab some smokes and booze after you gas up today, because at midnight the province will raise taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and fuel.

Effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, tax on gasoline and diesel will rise from nine- to 13 cents per litre, marking the first increase since 1991. Propane will also rise 2.9 cents per litre, to 9.4 cents. The changes are expected to raise an additional $430 million in 2015-16.  (go to article)

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Airlines Keep Fuel Savings for Themselves

TIME -- On Dec. 14, Oilprice.com looked at how the drop in the price of crude was affecting air fares. While motorists were enjoying low pump prices, we found, air travelers were paying the same for a ticket as they were before the oil slump.

That was attributed to airlines’ practice of buying backlogs of jet fuel at older, higher prices long before the price of oil started falling, as well as their efforts to reinvest in themselves to improve operations.  (go to article)

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Gas station owner, drivers catch suspected car thief

Deseret News -- Shannon Harris expected Wednesday to be a typical day.

It wasn't.

Harris, the owner of the Sinclair gas station at 3300 South and Main Stree, said a customer left his 2005 Acura running outside near a gas pump about 10 a.m. as he went into the store to get a drink.

Harris then watched as another man jumped into the running car and took off.

Instead of picking up the phone to call police, Harris grabbed his car keys.

“We just jumped in our car and just went after him,” he said.

Harris said he and the customer chased after the Acura, but they didn’t make it far because of a passing TRAX train. The arms at the TRAX stop were down at Washington Street and 3300 South, so the man driving the Acura hit another truck and then jumped out and ran, Harris said.  (go to article)

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House Transportation Committee urged to raise gas tax, vehicle fees during hearing

The Spokesman-Review -- OLYMPIA – A steady stream of business leaders and local government officials urged a House panel to raise the gasoline tax and several other vehicle fees and spend the projected $15 billion on roads, bridges, mass transit and ferries.

Although some listed highway or bridge projects that they think should be added to the proposed list, most speakers who came before the House Transportation Committee in the three-hour hearing said they supported an 11.7 cent increase in the state gas tax that passed the Senate earlier this month. The proposal also has higher fees for vehicle weights, drivers and a new $5 fee on each new studded tire sold after Jan. 1, 2017.

The list of projects in Eastern Washington totals more than $1 billion, with money to complete the North Spokane Corridor  (go to article)

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State grants Spokane seat at oil train hearings

The Spokesman-Review -- With a significant boost in oil trains rolling through downtown possible, city leaders say Spokane’s “voice will be heard” as the state considers a proposed crude oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington.

The state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council said Thursday that the city – as well as a number of environmental, tribal and governmental entities – was granted intervention status, meaning the city had shown it will be affected by the facility and will be part of the formal hearings the state will hold regarding the facility’s permitting.

City leaders applauded the state’s decision to include the city.

“To me, it means we at least get a voice and we’re treated as a partner,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart. “Our voice will be heard.”

 (go to article)

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The Only Thing Oil Analysts Can Agree On Is Disagreement

Bloomberg -- Standard Chartered Plc’s Paul Horsnell forecasts oil will rise to $90 a barrel in the fourth quarter. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Francisco Blanch predicts $58. Six months ago, they were just $1 apart.

That sudden divergence highlights a growing trend: Energy analysts are the most divided in at least eight years on the direction of Brent crude, the global benchmark. Forecasters failed to predict the plunge that cut oil prices by more than half after the U.S. shale boom boosted output to a three-decade high. OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, relinquished its traditional role adjusting production to moderate price swings in an effort to maintain market share.

This has left analysts split over how much and how quickly low prices will force U.S. producers to  (go to article)

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Oil falls more than $1 as Middle East supply fears ease

Reuters -- Oil prices fell more than $1 a barrel on Friday as worries receded over the threat of disruptions to Middle East supplies due to Saudi Arabia-led air strikes in Yemen.

Goldman Sachs said the bombing of Yemen would have little effect on oil supplies as the country was only a small crude exporter and tankers could avoid passing its waters to reach their ports of destination.

North Sea Brent crude LCOc1 was down 90 cents at $58.29 a barrel by 0640 EDT after hitting an intraday low of $57.76. U.S. crude CLc1 was down $1.00 at $50.43 a barrel.

Oil jumped around 5 percent on Thursday, its biggest daily gain in a month, after air strikes in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies sparked fears that escalation of the Middle East battle could disrupt world crude supplies.

The Saudi-led  (go to article)

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Trans-Eurasian Belt Development superhighway would connect Russia and U.S.

CBC NEWS -- Vladimir Yakunin, the head of government-owned Russian Railways, envisions a superhighway linking approximately 20,000 kilometres of roadways in Asia, Europe and North America. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters) . . . "It could be the ultimate road trip — on a proposed superhighway that would wind halfway round the world connecting Russia and the U.S., and travelling through major European cities like London, Paris and Berlin.

" . . . and providing a crossing over or under the Bering Strait.

"The proposal, although short on specifics, was presented recently at a Russian Academy of Sciences meeting, the Siberian Times reported. ...  (go to article)

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Pothole repair season begins for northern half of U.S.

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..state.nj.usLike many states across the U.S. from Oregon to Maine, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has begun a statewide campaign to repair potholes.
To deal with potholes in the most aggressive and efficient manner, the Department will be allowing crews through the state to close travel lanes where necessary during daytime hours, including during peak travel times for priority repairs.  
In addition to the Department’s usual winter pothole repair method of using cold patch material, NJDOT is using 13 state-of-the-art pothole-filling machines, which make a more durable repair than cold-patch. The pothole-filling machine, which was demonstrated today, is a truck that can heat a mix of asphalt and gravel before injecting the mixture into the pothole. These machines require just one person to operate, with another worker operating a safety truck.  ...  (go to article)

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Clean Diesel Industry Asserts It Is Unfairly Treated

Design News -- It would be no surprise if the phrase “clean diesel” conjured up cynical smiles. After all, most of us think of diesel trucks and buses as soot-belching behemoths, pouring sulfur, particulate matter, and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

However, that picture has changed significantly, according to the presenters at a recent [L=http://www.dieselforum.org/news/text deleted briefing in Washington, DC[/L]. At the briefing, jointly sponsored by the Diesel Technology Forum and the US Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars, presenters stressed that the environmental effects of diesel have changed drastically over the last 10 years. Today's diesel fuel, particularly for. . .  (go to article)

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Texting while driving ban could face opposition in state House

KCRG.com -- DES MOINES — Rep. Gary Worthan believes Iowa roads would be safer if the rule requiring him to use only a hands-free phone when he’s driving his truck applied to all drivers.

However, politics being the art of the possible, the Storm Lake Republican will settle for a ban on texting while driving.Read more at http://www.kcrg.com/subject/news/text deleted  (go to article)

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Oil prices ease as market sees little threat of supply disruptions from Yemen

CNBC REUTERS -- Oil prices edged lower in early trading in Asia on Friday as traders estimated that the threat of a disruption to world crude supplies from Saudi Arabia-led air strikes in Yemen was low.

Goldman Sachs said in an overnight note that the strikes in Yemen would have little effect on oil supplies as the country was only a small crude exporter and tankers could avoid passing its waters to reach their ports of destination.

Internationally traded Brent crude futures were trading at $58.88 a barrel at 0121 GMT, down 31 cents from their last settlement. U.S. crude was down 40 cents at $51.03 a barrel.

Prices soared as much as 6 percent the previous day after a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations began strikes on Shi'ite Houthis and allied army units who have taken over much of Yemen and seek...  (go to article)

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Oil and gas health risks low in northeast B.C., report finds

The Globe and Mail - VANCOUVER -- A long-awaited study into the health risks associated with the oil and gas industry in northeast British Columbia has concluded there is a low probability of adverse effects from exposure to contaminants.

The report, part of a larger study the B.C. government initiated nearly four years ago, was released Thursday by provincial Health Minister Terry Lake.

The findings were welcomed by industry, which has long been blamed for releasing contaminants that are harmful to human health, but critics remained doubtful, saying too much is still unknown about long-term effects.

“It’s a comprehensive report and I think it demonstrates that people who live and work in northeast B.C. shouldn’t be concerned about the impact of the oil and gas industry on their health,” said Geoff Morrison, manager of  (go to article)

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Porsche updates 919 Hybrid LMP1 for 2015 assault

AutoBlog -- Last season, Porsche returned to the top level of endurance racing with the 919 Hybrid, picking up a mantle that has seen the German marque win the 24 Hours of Le Mans a record sixteen times – more than any other manufacturer ever to compete at the legendary French race. Of course, Porsche didn't beat its sister company Audi right out of the box, but managed to win the last race in the FIA World Endurance Championship in Brazil before the season was done. This year it undoubtedly hopes to do even better, and this is the machine with which it will endeavor to take the top honors.

Newly revised and optimized for the 2015 season, the new 919 Hybrid was just revealed on the eve of the first test session of the season at the Paul Ricard test track in the South of France. It may look largely th  (go to article)

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AWD Ford Focus RS to make U.S. debut at New York auto show

MLive -- The all-new, all-wheel-drive Ford Focus RS, highly anticipated by rally enthusiasts and others, is making its U.S. debut next week at the New York International Auto Show.

The sporty, 4-door hatchback was unveiled last month in Cologne, Germany, where Ford's RS performance label was first born with the Ford 15M RS in 1968.

The new Focus RS debuts the company's Ford Performance All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system. It will come equipped with a 315-plus-horsepower, 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine.

"Customers have begged for the Focus RS to come to the United States for years" Raj Nair, Ford's group vice president of global product development, said in a release Wednesday. "And now we can say that they are getting one of the most innovative, powerful and best-looking.,.  (go to article)

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The Texas Town That Just Quit Fossil Fuels

Slate.com -- Last week Georgetown, Texas, a town of about 50,000 about 30 miles north of Austin (and the home of Nolan Ryan) announced that the utility that it owns, Georgetown Utility Systems, would soon get 100 percent of the electricity it provides from renewables.* How? At the beginning of last year, Georgetown made a deal with EDF Renewable Energy to acquire about 75 percent of the output of the 194-megawatt Spinning Spur 3 wind farm, now under construction in West Texas, for 20 years. That accounts for about half of the utility’s needs. Last week it announced it would purchase the output of two large solar plants, with a combined capacity of 150 megawatts, that Sun Edison will build in West Texas, for 25 years.  (go to article)

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Toyota to make hybrid RAV4

USAToday -- Toyota plans to use the New York Auto Show to introduce a natural extension to its crossover line -- a hybrid version of the RAV4.

Toyota already has a Highlander hybrid, which runs on both electricity and its gas engine. An all-electric plug-in version of the RAV4 was dropped after it was announced last year that Tesla would no longer be supplying the batteries.

For now, Toyota is only showing a hint of the look of the new RAV4. It makes its debut next week.

The new RAV4 is keeping with Toyota's pledge to extend hybrid technology across its line. Because it's a compact SUV, there's a little more space inside to pack in suitcase-sized hybrid batteries than would be found in a sedan. And Toyota is banking that there are plenty of eco-minded families willing to pay a little more for a hyb  (go to article)

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Canadian upgrader maintenance to cut 2nd qtr synthetic crude supply

Reuters -- More than 10 percent of Canada's synthetic crude supply is set to go offline during the second quarter of 2015 as oil sands producers in northern Alberta carry out planned maintenance at four major facilities that upgrade tar-like bitumen into crude.

Royal Dutch Shell, Suncor Energy Inc and Canadian Oil Sands Ltd, which is the largest interest owner in the Syncrude Canada project, all confirmed this week they have scheduled maintenance for this spring.

Maintenance on the upgraders, which convert mined bitumen from the oil sands into refinery-ready synthetic crude, is likely to support prices over the next couple of months.

Light synthetic oil-sands crude for April delivery has been trading at a premium to West Texas Intermediate crude throughout March in anticipation of curtailed supply  (go to article)

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Motiva to integrate Norco, Convent refineries in Louisiana

Reuters -- Motiva Enterprises said on Thursday that operations at its Convent and Norco, Louisiana, refineries will be integrated to take advantage of increased production of lower-cost U.S. shale oil.

Motiva, which is co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco, said the first step in the integration project is the construction of the Maurepas pipeline system that will bring advantaged crude to the Norco refinery and connect the production systems at the two plants.

After the three-pipeline system is in place, Motiva plans to idle the 92,000-barrel-per-day gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit at the 235,000 bpd Convent refinery.

The company will also expand by 30,000 bpd the hydrocracking unit at the 238,000 bpd Norco refinery. The Norco hydrocracker currently can process 40,000  (go to article)

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$7 billion transportation budget passes Ohio legislature: Here's what's in it (and what's not)

Cleveland.com -- COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to a two-year transportation budget with more than $7 billion for highway projects around the state.

The budget also contains a controversial 30-day vehicle registration deadline and requires the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to accept credit and debit cards, among other measures.

The Ohio House passed the budget 82-13 on Thursday afternoon; the bill previously passed the state Senate unanimously.

Gov. John Kasich has to sign the budget by April 1 for it to take effect when the new fiscal year starts in July. The governor's policy team is currently reviewing the legislation, administration spokesman Jim Lynch said Thursday.

Here are some of the key provisions in House Bill 53:  (go to article)

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Forget Electric Cars. Natural Gas Is Powering Vehicles in Texas

Wall Street Journal -- At Mike Scully's Apple Towing in Houston, just one of their big Ford F650 tow trucks saves more gasoline each year than 20 Nissan Leaf electric cars. When it comes to reducing carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants, Mike's F650s are equally impressive, and his fuel cost per mile is about the same as that of a four-seat Jeep Wrangler. What is Apple Towing's secret? The F650 tow trucks run on natural gas, which they refuel for less than $1.70 per gasoline-gallon equivalent, or gge.PIRA Energy Group estimates that natural gas in transportation will approach 800 million gges this year. Do some simple math and it quickly becomes apparent that natural-gas vehicles (NGVs) will displace 10-12 times more gasoline and diesel than the 250,000 electric cars currently on the road.  (go to article)

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Ride-sharing regulations a 'grey zone,' Uber GM says as more drivers plead guilty

Ottawa Citizen -- Two more Uber drivers pleaded guilty in an Ottawa court Thursday to driving unlicensed taxis even as Uber’s general manager for Ontario said he believes regulations around ride-sharing services are a “grey zone” and that Uber’s services aren’t illegal.

Wilmond Celiba and Sedik Said were each fined $400 after reaching plea deals with the city in which a second charge of operating an unlicensed taxi was withdrawn. The two Uber drivers were among eight on the docket at the provincial offences court Thursday. The city withdrew charges entirely against a third driver, Hashim Naziri, because the city bylaw officer didn’t sign the ticket. Five other drivers’ cases were adjourned until April 23.

The drivers fined Thursday are among 25 that the city said it has charged since Uber launched its rid  (go to article)

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Other Passengers, Not Phones, The Biggest Distraction In Crashes For Teen Drivers

CBS Chicago -- In 15 percent of the crashes, the driver was simply interacting with one or more passengers. Cell phone use, from talking to texting, was to blame in 12 percent of the incidents. Just fiddling around in the car – looking at something from the radio to a book – was to blame 10 percent of the time. Even just singing in the car led to accidents 6 percent of the time.  (go to article)

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Americans consuming least amount of gasoline since the 80's

GasBuddy Blog -- A study out by the University of Michigan boldly claims that Americans are consuming the least amount of gasoline since tracking began in 1984.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study by Michael Sivak said average fuel consumption by U.S. motorists dropped in 2013 to its lowest level since 1984, the first year data was recorded.

The drop is astounding, as consumption now stands some 14 to 19 percent lower than when it peaked in 2004, said Sivak. The numbers shows that in 2013 the amount of fuel consumed per person was about 392 gallons, while overall households consumed an average of just over 1,000 gallons- declines of 17 percent and 19 percent, respectively, since 2004- when numbers peaked. Overall consumption by vehicle dropped to 524 gallons while gallons per driver dropped to 583 gallons....  (go to article)

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Bridge collapse reported on interstate in Central Texas

AP -- SALADO, Texas (AP) — Emergency crews are responding to a reported bridge collapse along an interstate in Central Texas.

The Bell County Sheriff's Department says the accident happened late Thursday morning along Interstate 35 in Salado (suh-LAY'-doh), about 40 miles north of Austin.

Lt. Donnie Adams says traffic has been halted in both directions. Adams says he didn't immediately have additional details on possible injuries or what caused the accident.

The Texas Department of Transportation had no immediate information on the incident.  (go to article)

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Has your car been recalled? Eight questions to ask.

The Christian Science Monitor -- Over 60 million cars were recalled in the United States during 2014, more than ever before. There were a total of 700 recall announcements made last year, meaning there were nearly two recall announcements each day.

Though 2015 has, thus far, not had any of the massive recall numbers of 2014, a few weeks ago Kia recalled over 200,000 vehicles while Ford announced a recall just days ago that affects 220,000 models. This all means it's time to refresh our memory on just how car recalls work — and what you should do if your car is affected by one.
 (go to article)

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Auto fleet fuel efficiency rises in ’14

Detroit News -- The fuel efficiency of the nation’s cars and trucks is still rising but the pace of gas-saving improvements is slowing, and automakers are raising concerns that people won't buy enough fuel-sipping models to meet tough government requirements.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in its latest report on fuel efficiency that overall, vehicles that will be sold for model-year 2014 are estimated to be just 0.1 mile per gallon better — at 24.2 mpg in real-world fuel efficiency — than the overall average of all the 2013 model-year vehicles sold.

In contrast, 2013 vehicles on average got 0.5 mpg better than 2012 models, and 2012 vehicles got 1.2 mpg better than 2011 cars.

“These findings are a terrific early success story for President Obama’s historic effort to reduce the pollution that  (go to article)

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Why Gas Could Plunge Below $2 a Gallon This Summer

AOL -- The price of gasoline has plunged 30 percent in the past year to $2.45 a gallon nationwide, giving major relief to American consumers. Plunging oil prices have driven the drop and have given a reprieve to consumers who have been paying nearly $4 a gallon for gas for most of the past four years.  (go to article)

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'Mr. Pothole' Mark Morrell pushes for World Pothole Day on March 25

CBC News -- If Mark Morrell — who goes by the moniker Mr. Pothole — gets his way, March 25, would be declared World Pothole Day.

"Everyone has them in their local streets and local highways and when they're dangerous, then you report them to authorities," Morrell, a U.K. resident, told Daybreak North's Carolina de Ryk.

"Then they don't do anything and then you have to get the police involved. And I thought, 'I'm not prepared to live in a society that accepts that.'"

Morrell worked for more than 25 years in road structures and reinstatement, and has studied roads around the world including Canada

"To some people they're an annoyance. To some people they cost them quite a few buck in terms of paying out for repairs.

"But unfortunately I have met some families of some cyclists who were killed …. so  (go to article)

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U.S. ethanol exports in 2014 reach highest level since 2011

EIA -- According to EIA monthly supply data through December 2014, which EIA released in late February, U.S. exports of fuel ethanol in 2014 reached their second-highest level at a total of 826 million gallons. This level was second only to the 1.2 billion gallons exported during 2011 and 33% more than exports of fuel ethanol in 2013. Similarly, U.S. imports of ethanol, which totaled approximately 377 million gallons during 2013, fell by 81% to a total of 73 million gallons in 2014, their lowest annual level since 2010. As a result, the United States was a net exporter of fuel ethanol for the fifth consecutive year and exported the fuel to 37 different countries in 2014.

In the United States, ethanol is primarily used as a blending component in the production of motor gasoline (mainly blended in  (go to article)

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Gasoline specification changes and price effects

EIA -- While the vernal equinox on March 20th marks the first official day of spring, the transition from winter-grade gasoline to spring-grade gasoline, an intermediate step in the shift to summer-grade gasoline, began much earlier. The transition occurs along the gasoline supply chain, from refineries to retail outlets, and affects spot, wholesale and retail gasoline prices because the cost to manufacture spring and summer-grade gasoline is higher than the cost to manufacture gasoline used in the winter.

Federal and state environmental regulations specify the properties of finished gasoline that can be sold at retail stations across the United States. Many specifications, like octane rating, remain constant from season to season. However, Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), a measure of how easily petr  (go to article)

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Is Yemen the new catalyst for oil?

CNBC -- Oil prices ratcheted up on Thursday on news that Saudi Arabia launched a military operation in neighboring Yemen, however analysts remain skeptical that geopolitical tensions will sustain the rally.

Brent crude oil futures rose almost 6 percent to as high as $59.71 a barrel, before settling around $58.30.
 (go to article)

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Idaho bill raises gas tax, cuts grocery sales tax and credit

The Spokesman-Review -- BOISE – Idaho House Republican leaders introduced complicated legislation Wednesday to make big changes in Idaho’s tax system – lowering the top income tax rate, removing the sales tax from groceries and raising the gas tax by 7 cents a gallon.

The sweeping proposal was introduced just two days before lawmakers had hoped to adjourn their session this year. They acknowledged it will go at least into next week.

House Speaker Scott Bedke said the tax bill, along with other measures that are now moving forward, matches his initial goals for this year’s legislative session: to make significant improvements in education and in transportation infrastructure, and to make Idaho more attractive to businesses. The House already has endorsed a $125 million, five-year plan to boost teacher pay  (go to article)

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Superhighway: Russian official proposes road that could connect London to NYC

Fox News -- One of Russia's most powerful tycoons and a close pal of President Vladimir Putin has proposed a long and winding road that theoretically could connect Great Britain to Alaska, via Mother Russia. And while a nearly 13,000-mile highway sounds like a stretch – a really long stretch – the major roadblock is likely money, not feasibility.  (go to article)

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Temporary closing of steel mill shocks workers, Granite City

St Louis Post-Dispatch -- The “temporary” closing of United States Steel’s Granite City Works, announced Wednesday, sent a wave of worry through 2,000 soon-to-be-laid-off steelworkers and a city that depends on its mill.

“It’s been the heart and soul of this community,” Granite City schools Superintendent Jim Greenwald said.

The move comes as tumbling oil prices hit the country’s second-largest steelmaker hard. Much of Granite City’s steel is used to make pipe for the oil industry at U.S. Steel’s Lone Star Tubular plant in Texas, and demand for drilling pipe is falling fast.  (go to article)

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Ready for the Ford / Petty Garage 627-hp Mustang GT?

GasBuddy Blog -- Ford Motor Company and Petty’s Garage are teaming up to build a new 627-horsepower* Mustang GT – a limited-edition fastback inspired by the popular Petty’s Garage Mustang GT on display at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.“We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about our Petty’s Garage Mustang GT displayed at the SEMA show,” said Jeff Whaley, Petty’s Garage COO. “With so much interest, we began to explore the possibility of building a limited run of the Petty’s Garage Mustang GT.”Two versions of the Petty’s Garage Mustang GT will be built this year; the Stage 1 version will be limited to 100 units, while the even more exclusive Stage 2 version will total 43 units.  Are you ready for this? ...  (go to article)

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Review: Camry Hybrid is a family car winner

Salt Lake Tribune -- The roomy, fuel-sipping Toyota Camry Hybrid family sedan gets better for 2015 with more appealing exterior styling, upgraded interior, improved ride and handling and quieter passenger cabin.

Coming just three years after the launch of the current generation Camry Hybrid, the changes are more than expected for a mid-cycle refresh of a mid-size sedan. They better position the Camry Hybrid against stylish-looking competitors such as the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans.

Consumer Reports lists the Camry Hybrid as a recommended buy, noting that predicted reliability is better than average.
 (go to article)

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Why Bombing This Tiny Oil Producer Is Roiling the Energy Market

BloombergBusiness -- While Yemen contributes less than 0.2 percent of global oil output its location puts it near the center of world energy trade.

The nation shares a border with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter and sits on one side of a shipping chokepoint used by crude tankers heading West from the Persian Gulf. Global oil prices jumped more than 5 percent on Thursday after regional powers began bombing rebel targets in the country that produced less than Denmark in 2013.

Yemen’s government has collapsed in the face of an offensive by rebels known as Houthis prompting airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia the biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Gulf’s main Sunni Muslim power says the Houthis are tools of its Shiite rival Iran another OPEC member and halt...  (go to article)

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Proposal would outlaw holding cellphone while driving in NC

WRAL -Channel 5 - Raleigh -- A state lawmaker wants to close a loophole that makes it very difficult for law enforcement officers to enforce North Carolina's ban on texting while driving.

North Carolina is one of 40 states that have laws against texting while driving. Yet, people still send and read text messages behind the wheel, and punishing them isn't so easy.

A WRAL Investigates report last July found that 1,458 people were cited with texting while driving in Wake County in 2013. Of the 1,367 cases disposed of in the county that year in Wake County, fewer than half resulted in drivers paying the $290 in fines and court costs. Many drivers fought their tickets and won.

The current law applies only to moving vehicles – drivers stopped at a red light can text and email – but drivers are still allowed to type ...  (go to article)

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Oil prices surge after Saudi air strikes in Yemen

Reuters -- Brent crude oil prices shot up nearly 6 percent on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies began a military operation in Yemen, although Asian importers said they were not immediately worried about supply disruptions.

The strike against Houthi rebels, who have driven the president from Yemen's capital Sanaa, could stoke concerns about the security of oil shipments from the Middle East.

Oil prices jumped as traders and importers said they were worried the Saudi attack was a sign that fighting in the oil-rich Middle East was spreading and out of control.


Brent crude oil futures rose as high as $59.71 a barrel, up almost 6 percent since their last settlement, before dipping back to $57.80 a barrel at 0402 GMT, still up $1.32. U.S. crude was up $1.64 at $50.85 a barrel  (go to article)

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Cars Mysteriously Break Down After Drivers Fill Up at New Jersey Gas Station

NBC New York -- Drivers filling up their tanks at a New Jersey gas station say their cars are getting damaged and they suspect it has to do with what's being pumped out of the gas lines.

Police in Hopatcong say 10 drivers have reported problems after filling up at the Enrite gas station. Drivers continued to pull up all evening Wednesday to tell NBC 4 New York how their cars have broken down after they filled up there.

Marlene Caprio said her car had to be towed from Bergen County after it was damaged extensively. Leah Keyes said her brand-new car "totally died."

Mechanic Andrew Muns recounted another customer's experience: "It wouldn't start. She said, 'I went to hit the gas and it was bucking and kept stalling and shutting off.'"

The drivers said their mechanics told them their gas tanks were loaded  (go to article)

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How changing gas prices impact local businesses

Daily Bulletin -- With new drilling technologies playing a major role in an oversupply of crude worldwide, the resulting lower cost of oil and gas in recent months have brought both benefits and negative impacts to businesses across the spectrum of the regional economy.

Refined gasoline prices did rise dramatically in California over the course of February and into March, primarily from supply issues stemming from the shut-down of two refineries — the first due to a strike at the Tesoro Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez, and the other after an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance.

“There’s a narrow balance between supply and demand, and if something happens with supply, you get an immediate price impact,” said David Hackett, president of the Irvine-based energy consulting company Stillwate  (go to article)

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North Dakota might challenge new federal fracking rule

FuelFix -- North Dakota is considering challenging a new federal fracking rule for US government lands.

The Obama administration is requiring companies that drill for oil and gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing drilling technique. A final rule released Friday also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids. The US Bureau of Land Management rule, under consideration for more than three years, takes effect in June.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said the rule is an overreach, and Gov. Jack Dalrymple said it could interfere with the work of the state’s Water Commission and Health Department.

“We need to take action,” he said during a Tuesday meeting of the state Industrial Commission...
 (go to article)

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Mexico Expects U.S. Oil Swap, Another Crack in Crude Export Ban

Reuters -- Mexican state oil firm Pemex expects imminent approval from the U.S. Commerce Department to allow it to swap up to 100,000 barrels of heavy crude for a similar amount of lighter U.S. oil, what could be the latest milestone toward loosening the four-decades old ban on exporting U.S. oil.

"Our expectation is that it happens soon," Jose Manuel Carrera, CEO of Pemex's commercial arm P.M.I. Comercio Internacional, said in an interview Friday. "I would like to see the approval tomorrow, or I would have liked to see it yesterday, but the truth is that this is a permit that the United States unilaterally approves."

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, which oversees the process, on Wednesday declined to comment on the application.

The Mexican company hopes swaps will pave  (go to article)

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US crude export debate focuses on East Coast refiners

Platts -- The debate over a potential shift in US restrictions on crude exports has often been characterized as a clash between North Dakota and Texas producers eager to get a glut of light oil onto the world market and refiners unwilling to lose a new domestic price advantage.

But only a "small subset of refiners" are benefitting from these low light oil prices, according to Kenneth Medlock, senior director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

In fact, the ongoing debate has created an aura of uncertainty and stasis throughout the oil industry, as producers have scaled back drilling without access to the world market and refiners have been reticent to invest in refinery upgrades which could prove futile if widespread exports are allowed, Medlock  (go to article)

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Texas House approves bill to ban texting while driving

ABC 13 (KTRK-TV in Houston)/AP -- The Texas House has approved a statewide ban on texting while driving, advancing a plan that cleared the Legislature previously but fell victim to a gubernatorial veto - and may face a similar fate this time.

Sponsored by Midland Republican and former House Speaker Tom Craddick, the bill allows police to stop drivers suspected of texting. It passed 102-40 Wednesday, after hours of debate.

Critics say it infringes on personal liberty and is unnecessary since 38 local ordinances, affecting most Texans, are already in place.

Others worry it creates a "slippery slope," allowing police to stop virtually anyone without proof of texting.

Lawmakers approved a statewide texting ban in 2011, but then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it.
 (go to article)

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On the Road In Mercedes Sci-Fi Self-Driving Car of 2030

Yahoo! Autos/Motoramic -- On a pre-programmed course in an old airfield in Alameda, Calif., a silverfish-shaped car meanders through a cardboard city full of frozen people and cut-out trees. Here at the edge of Silicon Valley, looking back across the bay at the San Francisco skyline and just minutes from Mercedes-Benz’s Research facility in Sunnyvale, the F 015 “Luxury In Motion” autonomous prototype vehicle makes its way — with the driver's seat comfortably swiveled 180 degrees to face backwards.

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi film, but this is Mercedes-Benz’s vision of the future — the year 2030 to be precise. The F 015 concept is quite literally a living room on wheels. Feel like driving? Swivel your chair and take control of the steering wheel that folds neatly away when not in use.  (go to article)

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Gatineau police clip wings of airborne auto daredevil

Ottawa Citizen -- Gatineau police have tracked down a would-be daredevil whose videotaped poor man’s Evel Knievel car jump over a snowbank briefly excited the social universe earlier this month.

Police said the digital video of the man’s motorized launch of a Toyota Tercel over a snowbank at Baie McLaurin, in Gatineau’s far east end, was racking up hits on social media for a few weeks at the beginning of the month.

The driver of the vehicle hit the snow ramp at speed, got a few metres of air time, crashed into some piled-up snow and skidded to a stop metres away.

Once alerted to the digital show, Gatineau police were able to track down the driver. The Gatineau man, 21, was charged with endangering life or property and fined $1,293, in addition to racking up four demerits on his driving record.
 (go to article)

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States are the best fracking watchdogs

Detroit News -- The rules issued last week by the Obama administration regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands should serve as fair warning to those states like Michigan that have already enacted adequate standards to regulate the extraction of oil and natural gas.

Department of the Interior regulations will mainly standardize wastewater disposal and require companies to disclose what chemicals they're using to help blast oil and natural gas from rock formations.

Michigan and most other states already have their own standards to ensure energy, oil and gas companies use the technology safely and with as little effect on the environment as possible.

And since just 11 percent of the natural gas and 5 percent of the oil consumed by the U.S. comes from drilling on federal lands, the states already  (go to article)

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Michigan auto insurance fee to drop $36 a vehicle

Detroit News -- Michigan’s special assessment on auto insurance policies will drop $36 per vehicle in the next fiscal year to $150, the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association said Wednesday.

The assessment, used to cover the costs of treatment for accident victims who suffer profound injuries, was $186 per vehicle the last two fiscal years. The new assessment starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2016.

All auto insurance companies operating in Michigan are required to pay the assessment. It’s added to auto insurance premiums paid under Michigan’s unique no-fault auto insurance law requiring unlimited lifetime coverage for medical expenses resulting from auto accidents.

Michigan is the only state to require drivers to purchase unlimited personal injury coverage. The state with the next highest manda  (go to article)

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