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Border Patrol Agents Make Record $19-Million Drug Bust, 15 Tons Of Marijuana Found

U-T San Diego, The Los Angeles Times -- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol say that agents seized a record 15 tons of marijuana after stopping a truck carrying a load of mattresses and cushions at the Otay Mesa crossing in San Diego, California.  (go to article)

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Pipeline may carry crude oil through southern Illinois

Belleville News-Democrat -- CARBONDALE, ILL. — A Texas-based company is converting an existing natural gas pipeline that runs through southern Illinois to transport crude oil.

Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado says the converted line would be part of a proposed new pipeline that could transport 450,000 barrels each day from oil fields in North Dakota.

She tells The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale (http://bit.ly/18cE38G ) the pipeline would not carry tar sands crude. That's the Canadian product involved in the Keystone XL pipeline, a project President Barack Obama vetoed last week.

The newspaper reports the conversion is underway on more than 500 miles of natural gas pipeline, part of which runs through the Shawnee National Forest.  (go to article)

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Iowa Residents React To Recent Gas Tax Increase

KELO - Sioux Falls -- LARCHWOOD, IA - If you stop to get gas in Iowa, the price at the pump is going up over the weekend.
Governor Brandstad approved a 10-cent increase on gas tax throughout the state.

Sunday, the price of gas is a little higher for Iowa drivers. A 10 cent increase was approved to help fund road and bridge repairs across the state of Iowa.

"I guess if we have to do it, we have to pay it. That's the way it is. I'm not happy. But yeah, we'll pay it," said Yvonne Wulf, Larchwood resident.

"It's not surprising. It hasn't gone up for quite a while. Roads and bridges and everything need a lot of repair, so it's not a big surprise," said Larchwood resident, Karl Dieters.

Karl Dieters is a farmer from the Larchwood area. He says the price increase won't impact him much.  (go to article)

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Keystone XL solution runs through Canada, argues Michael Bloomberg

The Financial Post -- The Keystone XL pipeline has become a perfect symbol of Washington’s dysfunction. Democrats exaggerate its environmental impact while Republicans exaggerate its economic benefits. In the debate, each side talks past the other, because each cares more about gaining a political advantage than a policy achievement. Yet a path exists for President Barack Obama to transcend these differences and allow both sides to declare victory.  (go to article)

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California lowers excise tax on gasoline by 6 cents a gallon

Ukiah Daily Journal -- State and local gasoline prices continue to climb despite a decrease in the fuel excise tax Tuesday by the California State Board of Equalization.

In accordance with the “fuel tax swap” law, the board said it voted to lower the gas excise tax rate by 6 cents to 30 cents for the 2015-16 fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 2016.

Since 2010, the fuel tax swap law has required the BOE to adjust the excise tax rate on fuel by the beginning of March each year. Californians pay two different state taxes at the pump – a sales tax and a per gallon excise tax. The actual sales tax on gasoline is 2.25 percent, according to the BOE.  (go to article)

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Putting a brake to oil train derailments

USA TODAY -- The latest derailments of trains carrying crude oil in the U.S. and Canada are putting more pressure on government officials to end the fiery crashes.

In fact, Washington is moving closer to adopting proposals that would force improvements in the tank cars and other equipment used to haul oil as well as require new restrictions on operating speeds for those trains and new assessments of rail conditions. Ottawa has taken similar steps.

But a former Obama administration official who played a key role in writing the U.S. proposals says that for all the talk about increasing the thickness and durability of tank cars, the more vital consideration may be putting better brakes on those trains.

"The more I think about it, the more I think that the ECP brakes may be more important than the tank  (go to article)

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Oil storage in US close to running out: Pro

CNBC -- U.S. crude posted its first monthly gain since June on Friday, but one expert warned that storage in the United States is filling up quickly, and that could send oil lower.

"We are really close," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Francisco Blanch, noting that storage could run out by the end of March or early April.

Blanch, the firm's head of global commodities and derivatives, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" that means the only option for oil producers will be to sell and therefore prices can't hold up.

"For WTI, we see those pressures being very pronounced over the next few weeks," he said.

Oil inventories in the U.S. were up 8.4 million barrels last week, according to government data.

On the other hand, the international market has held up a little better, Blanch said.

"We've seen  (go to article)

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OPEC's Oil Price War Is Paying Off, But It's Far From Over

The Motley Fool -- The impact of OPEC's decision to keep oil production at 30 million barrels per day in order to push down oil prices and squeeze marginal oil producers out of the market is starting to pay off. Drilling activity in the U.S., offshore, and internationally has slowed dramatically in the last two months as companies began to realize that OPEC wasn't playing around this time.

Flooding the market with oil is working to put pressure on marginal players, but it's a strategy that's far from over. New wells aren't being drilled, but existing wells are still producing oil and for OPEC to win this price war it will have to stick together for another 6-24 months. Understanding how OPEC's strategy is working and why it will continue can give some perspective on what will happen with energy stocks in...  (go to article)

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OPEC is its own worst enemy

Business Insider-The Motley Fool -- There's a growing rift among the nations within OPEC.

Just this past week the Nigerian oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said that OPEC could need to call an emergency meeting to discuss the persistently low price of oil. However, another member quickly piped up and said there was no need for an emergency meeting.

Nigeria's desire for a meeting comes just a month after Venezuela's president went on an around the world trip to meet with fellow OPEC members as its financial situation grows dire. What's becoming increasingly clear is that OPEC is at war not just with U.S. and Russian oil companies, but it is also battling a war within.

OPEC to the rescue?

As it stands right now OPEC is next due to meet this June as part of its bi-annual schedule. However, several of its members...  (go to article)

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Small ethanol plants battle for edge

Star Tribune -- BUFFALO LAKE, MINN. – On a cold winter day, white mist swirls above the smallest ethanol plant in Minnesota — a sign that it’s back in business.

Built two decades ago at the dawn of Minnesota’s ethanol industry, the plant in the past four years has been idled, mothballed and restarted — only to be shut down again as it stumbled through U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Now, a new owner has it running once more, and is confronting a core problem facing small plants in an era of larger, efficient ethanol producers. “The economics don’t work,” said Joe Winckler, an ethanol industry veteran who manages Buffalo Lake Advanced Biofuels.

It’s a persistent challenge in the industry. Most vintage ethanol plants, including Buffalo Lake, expanded over the years, but that isn’t always enough to stay competitiv  (go to article)

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Fight over Atlantic coastal drilling is brewing

Star Tribune -- Oil and gas companies hoping to drill in the Atlantic Ocean will have to contend with a new federal proposal to declare waters off the Carolinas and Georgia as critical for endangered whales.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing a huge expansion in the critical habitat area for endangered North Atlantic right whales. The new area would include waters from Georgia to Cape Fear, N.C.

The proposal comes as nine companies have applied to use seismic cannons to start exploring for oil and gas in the Atlantic, including in areas that deemed critical habitat for the endangered whales.

Claire Douglass, a campaign director for the environmental group Oceana, called the new critical habitat proposal a potential “game changer” for her group’s attempt to block the seismi  (go to article)

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Fracking ban forcing some New York towns to consider redrawing state lines

The Guardian -- Plenty of people leave New York state but in a job-hungry stretch of upstate, folks talk about staying put – and seceding to Pennsylvania.

Local officials stung by a recent decision to ban natural gas fracking have raised the idea of redrawing the Keystone State’s border. Even though they don’t expect it to happen, members of the Upstate New York Towns Association hope the spectre of secession will result in something – anything – good for a struggling part of the state peering enviously over the state line.

“It’s not like were looking across the border into Mexico or even looking across the border at Canada,” said Candor supervisor Bob Riggs, whose rural town is one of about 15 in the association. “We’re looking across the border into the United States, and it’s very different.”

The so  (go to article)

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State, nation must find alternatives to gasoline tax

JS Online -- Two years ago, a state task force on transportation made a series of recommendations to alleviate what's being called the "toxic formula" that threatens to strangle the state's road network. Those recommendations got short shrift from the Legislature then but now would be a good time to revisit them: As several articles on transportation woes noted last week, the problem is getting worse, in Wisconsin and across the nation.

In describing the problem, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said, "We have gas taxes, which are stagnant. We have transportation construction costs, which are going up. And then we've got federal revenue, which is declining. All of those is a toxic formula. We've got to take matters into our own hands."

Everyone is wrestling with this. Congress needs to move a  (go to article)

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Lithuania signs US deal to replace Russian gas

Yahoo -- Lithuania said Saturday it had signed a trade agreement to buy liquified natural gas from the United States in a move aimed at reducing the EU Baltic state's heavy dependence on Russian gas deliveries.

Under the deal with Houston-based Chenier Energy company, the first LNG fuel is expected to arrive in Lithuania as early as next year, state-owned company Litgas said in a statement.

"This agreement entered into with Cheniere ... will provide us access to the prolific US natural gas market," Litgas General Manager Dominykas Tuckus said.

Lithuania's first floating LNG terminal started commercial activity in January, becoming the first such facility to sever Moscow's grip on gas deliveries to the Baltic states.

The nation of three million will initially import 0.54 billion cubic metres of  (go to article)

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Hyundai recalls more than 200,000 Elantras over steering problem

Reuters -- Hyundai Corp is recalling 204,768 Elantras because of a power steering defect that might cause the cars to suddenly revert to manual steering, the company said Saturday in a report filed with U.S. auto safety regulators.

The recall affects four-door Elantra sedans produced from June 1, 2008, to April 30, 2010, and 2009-10 model Elantra Touring hatchbacks, Hyundai said in a report on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

It said the defect might affect an estimated 3 percent of those cars.

"Steering control can be maintained; however, the vehicle will revert to a manual steering mode, requiring greater driver effort, particularly at low speeds. This could result in an increased risk of a crash," Hyundai wrote in its report.

The carmaker said it had understood that  (go to article)

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Collector car owners experience daylight nightmare

KLAS-TV8 -- LAS VEGAS -- A Washington couple says they were falsely arrested by the Nevada Highway Patrol for stealing a collector car they actually owned.
The highway patrol admitted two errors that led to Robin and Beverly Bruins being removed from their car at gunpoint. And, now, the highway patrol is facing a lawsuit.

It all began with confusion over a license plate on a classic car. A highway patrol dash camera recorded a trooper stating over a loudspeaker: “Driver! Remove your keys from the ignition and put them on the roof now!”

From that point Robin Bruins and his wife experienced a daylight nightmare when the senior citizens found themselves looking down the barrels of police pistols.

“Actually, I think I might have giggled to Bev. I turned and looked back and saw three gun barrels point  (go to article)

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Watchdog: In the Toll Road Capital, NTTA’s empire falters again

The Dallas Morning News -- In Toll Road Capital, USA, the empire that is the North Texas Tollway Authority is driving people like Natalie Richard nuts.

The Dallas resident screams loud and long that the authority’s billing practices are horrendous. Drivers get penalized for bills they never received, she insists.

Turns out she’s right.

In a stunning humiliation, NTTA confessed Friday that it has made another huge mistake. This one strikes at the very heart of the criticism constantly leveled at NTTA.
 (go to article)

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How Chicago is becoming a hub of connected-car technology

Crain's Chicago Business -- BMW has two technology-development sites in the U.S. One is where you'd expect: Silicon Valley. The other is less obvious: Chicago.

Last fall, the German luxury—car maker bought a small software-development group in the West Loop from Microsoft and put out the help-wanted sign for software developers, engineers and data scientists with the goal of nearly doubling staff to 100.  (go to article)

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Despite low prices, Texas oil group stays optimistic Read more: Despite low prices, Texas oil group

Midland Reporter-Telegram -- Texas’ oil and gas industry is touting its record-breaking 2014 contributions to state and local government coffers, an effort to stay positive amid 2015’s far gloomier revenue outlook.

State and local governments collected $15.7 billion in taxes and royalties from the industry last year, the highest total in Texas history, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

 (go to article)

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Lawmakers may end tax break on jet fuel, to Delta's dismay

Midland Reporter-Telegram / AP -- ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers may eliminate a tax break for all airlines buying jet fuel at the world's busiest airport.

A bill filed in the House would cut the exemption at Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport. Supportive lawmakers say it would help the state get federal money for aviation improvements throughout the state.

They also argue the credit shouldn't be kept in place forever. A committee could soon approve the bill.

Representatives for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines say it's a tax increase that could hurt the airport's competitiveness.

Lawmakers created the exemption in 2005 as Delta was facing bankruptcy and have extended it several times before making it permanent in 2012. The bill's sponsor says Delta's CEO is pushing for tax increases for transportation but opposes...  (go to article)

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Maine weighs revoking seat belt law days after 75-car pileup

Fox 5 Atlanta -- AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - It's an effort that even the bill's sponsor acknowledges is poor timing.

Just two days after a 75-vehicle pileup injured at least 17 people in the state, lawmakers in Maine are considering legislation that would allow adults to opt out of wearing seat belts.

Sen. Eric Brakey told lawmakers on Friday that it's too bad they're considering his bill so close to Wednesday's crash on Interstate 95, which is thought to be largest in Maine history but had no fatalities....  (go to article)

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Californians sharply divided over hiking state gas tax

Sacramento Bee -- California voters think the government should spend more money to help maintain crumbling roads, but they offer mixed views on how to fund the upkeep, according to a new statewide Field Poll.  (go to article)

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Governor: Oil, Gas Rules Must Protect Mineral Owners’ Rights

CBS Denver/AP -- DENVER (AP) — Any attempt to give local governments more control over oil and gas drilling in Colorado must protect the rights of people who own underground mineral rights, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday.

Some people have owned or leased those rights for decades, long before Colorado’s growing cities spread onto land above rich oil and gas deposits, Hickenlooper said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“What right does government have to take that person’s lease away from them?” he said. “Through no fault of their own, the march of suburbanization, suddenly their lease is worth less than it was.”

Surface owners’ property rights should also be protected, Hickenlooper said, adding that energy companies are required to pay for damage. Noise, dust and other effects should also be  (go to article)

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Trains carrying Bakken crude pass through Fort Worth, records show

Star-Telegram -- As many as four trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota pass through the Fort Worth area each week on their way to the Gulf Coast, according to documents filed with the state by BNSF Railway.

The Texas Department of Public Safety released information about crude oil trains crossing the state on Friday after the attorney general’s office last week dismissed one railroad’s arguments for keeping them confidential.

The documents show that Fort Worth-based BNSF and Kansas City Southern, based in Kansas City, Mo., operate trains carrying 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil through Texas.

BNSF brings the trains south into Texas on two routes, one of which terminates near Galveston and another that continues into Louisiana. In addition to the trains passing through Fort Worth, as  (go to article)

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Gas prices soar in California as supply shrinks

AP -- LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Gas prices are soaring in California in a classic example of supply and demand after an explosion stopped gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil refinery while another remains offline due to labor unrest.

Average retail gas prices in the state have surged 25 cents a gallon in less than a week, from $2.98 per gallon for regular on Monday to $3.23 per gallon on Friday. That caps a run t  (go to article)

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Exxon Mobil settles New Jersey environmental case for a fraction of expected damages

Fuel Fix -- Exxon Mobil has settled a decade-long legal battle with New Jersey over billions of dollars in damages the state sought for the destruction of 1,500 acres of public wetlands, according to a New York Times report on Friday.

The Times wrote that the settlement amount, $250 million, reported by two sources close to the case was a fraction of the $8.9 billion in cleanup costs the state claimed had resulted from more than a century of pollution from a pair of refineries near Staten Island.

Neither Exxon Mobil nor Gov. Chris Christie’s office have made a public announcement over the settlement, and an Exxon spokesman decline to comment.

The New Jersey State Department of Environemntal Protection filed the lawsuit in 2004, and a state superior judge had been close to a decision this year befor  (go to article)

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Petroleum refinery outage in California highlights markets’ quick price reaction

U.S. Energy Information Administration -- On February 18, an explosion and fire occurred at ExxonMobil's refinery in Torrance, California. The Torrance refinery, the third-largest refinery in Southern California, has about 20% of the region's fluid catalytic cracking capacity and is an important source of gasoline and distillate fuel oil supply for Southern California.

Unplanned refinery outages can have noticeable effects on liquid fuel markets, disrupting supplies of gasoline and distillate, particularly in regions that are tightly balanced, such as the West Coast (defined as Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) 5). When refineries undergo planned maintenance, they make arrangements for alternative sources of supply to ensure that obligations are met. Upcoming planned outages are examined in EIA's Refinery Outa  (go to article)

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Why are gas prices going up again?

CBS -- BURBANK, Calif. -- Gas prices are starting to rise again. The nationwide average is $2.37 a gallon, up 34 cents in the past month.

In Southern California, the price at the pump has spiked a record 79 cents, according to AAA. Drivers are lining up to fill up before prices go up again.


P
Impact of massive oil refinery strike on gas prices
"Right now we're basically in the eye of the storm," says Allison Mac, an analyst with GasBuddy.com.

She says the problem is not the price of crude oil, which is holding steady at about $49 per barrel. The problem is at the refinery.

"In the industry we call this a first quarter climb. Every year around this time, nationally prices go up because we switch over to summer blend gas," Mac explains. "Summer fuel gasoline is actually more expensive to pro  (go to article)

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Senate OKs shift in road project spending

The Spokesman-Review -- OLYMPIA – The Senate approved a controversial shift in spending for major road projects Friday but had to delay a vote on increasing the gasoline tax to settle a question of how many votes it would need to pass.

Senators spent much of the day making changes to the state’s transportation policy, with a pointed debate over the sales tax that is charged for purchases on road, bridge and ferry projects. A key element of a bipartisan transportation package was to shift the sales tax from the state’s general fund – which pays for public schools, colleges and most social programs – to a fund that would use that money strictly for transportation.

Democrats argued the general fund could not absorb the loss with the state facing a court order to spend billions more on public schools.  (go to article)

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Spokane plans ‘just-in-case’ well site

The Spokesman-Review -- More than 240 miles of pipelines carrying gas, oil and other hazardous materials run through Spokane County, many of them over the aquifer that supplies the region’s water.

The Yellowstone Pipeline, which crosses above the Spokane River twice in the city, passes within 50 feet of the city’s Parkwater well site, which was built in 1945 and provides up to 40 percent of the city’s water. The proximity of the pipe and well has concerned city officials enough to commence with plans to sink a backup well just north of Corbin Park.

“In the event we have anything happen to the ConocoPhillips pipeline, we’re in trouble,” Dan Kegley, director of the city’s water and hydroelectric services, told the city’s Public Works Committee Monday.

 (go to article)

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Wolf seeks Obama's help in boosting oil-train safety

Philly.com/The Inquirer Digital Edition --
Gov. Wolf on Friday joined a chorus of officials pressuring the federal government to improve oil-train safety, and urged the government to reduce the volatility of North Dakota crude oil, which has been implicated in several recent fiery accidents.

The new governor released a letter he wrote to President Obama this week about the increasing rail volumes of crude oil, saying Pennsylvania has become one of the nation's biggest destinations for explosive North Dakota crude.

Wolf estimated that 60 to 70 trains carrying North Dakota crude travel through Pennsylvania each week. Philadelphia officials estimate that 45 to 80 oil trains from all sources, not just North Dakota's Bakken Shale, move through the city weekly.

Wolf praised the economic benefits Pennsylvania has derived...  (go to article)

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25,000 Chrysler Cars Recalled for Transmission Problem

NY Times -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling more than 25,000 vehicles worldwide for a transmission problem that may prevent the cars from being shifted into park.  (go to article)

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How SUVs became mainstream 25 years after exploding on scene with Explorer

The Globe & Mail -- Surging sales of compact utility vehicles may be grabbing headlines, but don’t go thinking the little ‘uns’ gain has been the big ‘uns’ pain. Even in a Canadian market that favours smaller vehicles, sales of mid-size SUV/CUVs are also on the rise (and large ones even more so).

 (go to article)

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Why diesel drivers have to be in it for the long haul

The Globe & Mail -- It’s tough to be a diesel proponent. Just when the variety of diesel-engined cars and light trucks is reaching new highs, the rug has been yanked from under their feet by gasoline prices at the lowest levels seen in years.  (go to article)

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Does the 'luxury pick-up' concept make sense?

GasBuddy Blog -- 2015 Ram Laramie Ltd.Auto expert Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press says automakers have confidence in the potential growth of high-end, luxury pickups that cost more than $50,000. 

Luxury pickups?  Isn't that an oxymoron?

He says the updated Ram Laramie Limited is a sign of the times in America's resurgent pickup truck market. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), General Motors and Ford have all discovered that there is a growing demand for luxury pickups with prices that top-out well above $50,000. ...  (go to article)

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Commission blocks citizens' fracking questions

The Courier-Journal(from Louisville, KY) -- Kentucky citizens on Wednesday were blocked by a state commission from asking their questions about a rare permit for a proposed deep horizontal natural gas well that might that officials said would likely use a type of "fracking" technology that's been controversial in other states.

The hearing before the Kentucky Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was held as legislation supported by both industry and environmental groups was moving through the Kentucky General Assembly to establish a regulatory framework for the practice.
 (go to article)

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Gas prices soar in California as supply shrinks

St. Paul Pioneer Press-AP -- Gas prices are soaring in California in a classic example of supply and demand after an explosion stopped gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil refinery while another remains offline due to labor unrest.

Average retail gas prices in the state have surged 25 cents a gallon in less than a week, from $2.98 per gallon for regular on Monday to $3.23 per gallon on Friday. That caps a run that saw the price of regular unleaded go up 60 cents per gallon since Jan. 30 as refineries prepare to shift to a summer blend of fuels.

In some areas of Southern California, gas station owners were forced to pass price hikes of 24 cents per gallon along to consumers on Thursday after seeing wholesale prices shoot up. Prices in Northern California lagged a day but by Friday were also rising; an independent...  (go to article)

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Union, Shell to resume talks in U.S. refinery strike on March 4

REUTERS -- Negotiations to settle the largest U.S. refinery strike are set to resume on March 4, the union and lead oil company negotiator said on Friday, the 27th day of the work stoppage.

Talks between Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and the United Steelworkers union (USW) broke off on Feb. 20 after refinery owners balked at a settlement. The union then ordered a strike by workers at three Motiva Enterprises [MOTIV.UL] refineries, including the nation's largest, all co-owned by Shell.

A total of 6,550 workers are walking picket lines at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of U.S. domestic production capacity.

"Industry needs to bargain a fair and safe contract or see the strike expand," the USW said on Friday.

 (go to article)

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Mazda bets on diesel-only car for Japan launch of key 2015 model

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Japan's Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) will sell only diesel-powered cars in the domestic launch of its key model for 2015, gambling it can convince the country's army of hybrid petrol-electric drivers that the days of sooty, noisy diesels are long gone.

Masamichi Kogai, Chief Executive of Japan's fifth-biggest auto maker, placed his diesel bet in Tokyo on Friday as he unveiled the CX-3, a compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV).

"In Japan, more and more people are choosing to drive diesels," Kogai said. The CEO also said the greater power offered by diesel engines is a selling point for bigger cars, including compact SUVs.

Mazda has high hopes for its new entry in a small but growing segment of the global auto market. Kogai said the compact SUV segment is expected to double in size  (go to article)

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Maine Weighs Revoking Seat Belt Law Days After 75-Car Pileup

ABC News -- It's an effort that even the bill's sponsor acknowledges is poor timing.

Just two days after a 75-vehicle pileup injured at least 17 people in the state, lawmakers in Maine are considering legislation that would allow adults to opt out of wearing seat belts.

Sen. Eric Brakey told lawmakers on Friday that it's too bad they're considering his bill so close to Wednesday's crash on Interstate 95, which is thought to be largest in Maine history but had no fatalities.

"It's very unfortunate timing that we're discussing this particular legislation two days after the 75-car pileup that took place on I-95," Brakey said.

The Republican from Auburn acknowledged that people should wear seat belts and said he hopes the accident serves as a reminder of the importance to do so. But said he believes  (go to article)

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Texas braces for massive layoffs amid oil slump

CBS News -- MIDLAND, Texas -- In Texas oil country, lower oil prices have led to prayers at the Jack County Courthouse for families who depend on oil drilling to make a living.

The state is home to the Permian Basin, the nation's leading oil-producing region, where cheaper oil means lower profits, and fewer jobs.

Alex Sexton was recently laid off from a drilling company's accounting department. "After a couple of days of wallowing in my own, you know, self-pity, I realized I'm not the only one and I'm not going to be the only one" said Sexton.

At a nearby employment center, the number of job-seekers has more than doubled in the last few weeks, says CEO Willie Taylor.

It's estimated Texas could lose 140,000 direct and indirect energy jobs by midyear. Just a few miles from Sexton's home, rigs have  (go to article)

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California Scientists Link Tiny Particles

LA Times --
A new study by California scientists has linked chronic exposure to microscopic air pollutants in vehicle exhaust to deaths from heart disease.  (go to article)

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Canadian crude proves perfect partner to U.S. shale

Reuters -- U.S. refineries are processing record quantities of heavy crude from Canada as the perfect complement to light oils from North Dakota and Texas as they struggle to keep their average blend steady.

Crudes vary enormously - from low-density oils with few impurities to much denser oils containing a relatively high percentage of sulfur and heavy metals such as nickel and vanadium.

Bakken and Eagle Ford are light, sweet oils, while Saudi Arabia’s Arab Heavy and Alberta’s Western Canadian Select are much heavier and sourer.

The density of crudes is normally expressed in terms of degrees API, which compares oil to the density of water at a standard temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crude density ranges f  (go to article)

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Fracking fault lines forecast a future fight over gas

IthacaJournal -- KIRKWOOD – Without hesitation, Kirkwood resident Marchie Diffendorf can recall the exact date of the phone call: Dec. 7, 2007.

It was a landman with a natural-gas company: Would he be interested in leasing the natural-gas rights to his 60-acre property in the rural Broome County town he's lived in his whole life?

Around that same time, someone knocked on the door of Eileen Hamlin's blue-sided, one-story Kirkwood home — 2 ½ miles from Diffendorf's — with a similar offer. Take the deal today, the man said, because it will be gone tomorrow.

Seven years and 10 days later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration announced a decision that shocked them both: A ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, the much-debated technique that promised to unlock the gas in the Marcellus Shale formation a mile  (go to article)

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Congress investigates gas pricing

Associated Press -- WASHINGTON -- Oil industry executives rejected charges Tuesday that they manipulated gasoline supplies to increase prices. A senator said there is strong evidence that oil companies work to maintain tight markets that produce price spikes.

Opening a hearing on the volatility of gasoline prices, senators said oil industry practices of maintaining low inventories, along with growing market concentration, invited the sudden gasoline price surges that have occurred in recent years.

"Price spikes are becoming a way of life . . . and not without serious consequences," Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, told the oil executives.  (go to article)

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Oil train wrecks increase pressure for tougher safety rules

FuelFix.com -- WASHINGTON — Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries.

On Feb. 5, the Transportation Department sent the White House draft rules that would require oil trains to use stronger tank cars and make other safety improvements.

Nine days later a 100-car train hauling crude oil and petroleum distillates derailed and caught fire in a remote part of Ontario, Canada. Less than 48 hours later, a 109-car oil train derailed and caught fire in West Virginia, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning a house to its foundation. As the fire spread across 19 of the cars, a nearby resident said the expl  (go to article)

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Los Angeles, San Francisco Set Records, California Closes In...

GasBuddy Blog -- Californians are now seeing the most aggressive retail gasoline price hikes ever recorded.
In Los Angeles the average price of gas has risen 19.6 cents per gal. and that's the largest spike since Oct. 5, 2012 when the average rose by 19.5 cents.  In San Francisco the average price jumped today by more than 20 cents per gal., surpassing the previous record jump of 18.8 cents on Jan. 28, 2008. The statewide average has risen today by 16.5 cents and is exceeded only by the 17.7 cent increase also recorded on Oct. 5, 2012....  (go to article)

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Oil May Fall Again Says Analyst Who Predicted ’09 Rebound

Bloomberg Business -- (Bloomberg) -- Oil prices could drop again later this year as a supply glut persists, according to Jason Kenney, a Banco Santander SA analyst who accurately predicted a rebound in prices after the 2008 slump.

The current oil shock caused by the boom in U.S. shale production is reminiscent of the mid-1980s, when development of fields in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico caused a supply glut, Kenney, the head of European oil and gas equity research at the Spanish bank, said by phone from Edinburgh Thursday. It differs from the 2008 collapse, which was caused by slumping demand in a recession, Kenney said.
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Lower Gas a Prices A Boon To Cape Cod Residents, Businesses

Wicked Local Bourne -- With a dramatic drop in prices, Cape Codders feel like they died and went to gas pump heaven.  (go to article)

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Biodiesel gets a new state tax break

Iowa Public Radio -- The brand new state law that raises the tax on gasoline and diesel by 10 cents a gallon includes a first-ever tax break for soybean-based biodiesel, similar to the tax advantage for corn-based ethanol blends.  (go to article)

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15 cars, 2 semis gridlock US 75 in Texas

CNBC -- The Collin County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that 15 cars and 2 semis were involved in a traffic pile-up on U.S. Highway 75 southbound in Melissa, Texas, on Friday.

Cars were sliding off the highway due to sudden and heavy snowfall in North Texas causing several separate crashes, according to NBC 5. Initial reports suggested the more than 40 vehicles were involved.

Due to treacherous road conditions, officials in Fort Worth have closed Interstate 30 and Interstate 35W. Fort Worth Police told NBC 5 that as of 11:15 a.m. CT the department was responding to 75 different crashes.
The snowstorm began at 8 a.m. on Friday. No fatalities have been reported, although there were paramedics on the scene.  (go to article)

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