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Green Groups Go Red, Team With Putin To Fight Fracking

Investors Business Daily -- Deceit: Green groups frequently tar opponents as paid puppets of the fossil fuel industry. It's a hollow, ad hominem attack that's often wrong. Worse, these groups accuse others of corruption their partners are guilty of.

It's a routine charge: Climate change deniers are funded by Big Oil — they're mercenaries whose work should be ignored because of their deep conflict of interest.

As it turns out, though, the anti-fracking movement has received funding from the fossil fuel industry. But the source of funds isn't a U.S.-based company. The money is from fossil fuel concerns linked to a country that is emerging as an enemy of America.

 (go to article)

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Evidence Doesn't Support Fracking As Cause Of Texas Earthquakes

Investors Business Daily -- A recent spate of earthquakes in the Dallas area, centered around the old Texas Stadium in Irving, has raised concerns that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the cause. Making that correlation may be understandable, but it's almost certainly wrong.

Read More At Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-viewpoint/text deleted
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook
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Uber says ride sharing reduces drunk driving

GasBuddy Blog -- The popular ride-sharing service Uber last week released a survey showing that people are less likely to drink and drive after ride sharing operations started in their cities.

The survey, done in cooperation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), were based on a December poll of over 800 adults in major cities where Uber operates. The results come amidst legal challenges and plenty of negative PR for Uber, as it aims to grow internationally and avoid regulation.

Uber also revealed that customers who take rides on Super Bowl Sunday, a time that many consume alcohol and have parties, have the chance to opt to donate $1 per ride to Mothers Against Drunk Driving by using promotion code "THINKANDRIDE" on February 1 from 3pm-12am ET....  (go to article)

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Oil Workers Issue Strike Notices After Rejecting 4 Offers

BloombergBusiness -- The United Steelworkers union, representing workers at about two-thirds of U.S. oil refineries, is issuing strike notices after rejecting a fourth contract proposed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc on behalf of energy companies.

The steelworkers’ national agreement with Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp. and other refiners expires Sunday. The union hasn’t called a strike and is notifying local management “so preparations can be made” should one occur, union spokeswoman Lynne Hancock said Saturday. The USW described Shell’s latest proposal in a telephone message as “insulting” and instructed all local units to reject it.

Union leaders and Shell have been meeting since Jan. 21 to reach a new three-year agreement. A nationwide strike would threaten to halt as much as 63 percent of U.S. fuel production and...  (go to article)

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Roundabouts gaining traction in Pennsylvania

The morning call -- It's a trend likely to evoke images of Chevy Chase clumsily driving his "European Vacation" family around a seemingly endless London roundabout for hours.

Those intimidating traffic-light-free circular intersections will multiply across Pennsylvania if transportation officials have their way, so much so that you could find one on your regular route in the not-too-distant future.

Found to be safer for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists than traditional intersections, and more efficient in moving traffic, roundabouts have been pitched for Hamilton Street in Allentown, two spots in Upper Macungie Township and a few spots along Route 222 in Berks County, including one in Maidencreek Township that about 1,500 petition-signers oppose.

Like it or not, the roundabout revolution is right around  (go to article)

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Turn off red-light cameras in Texas?

Star-telegram -- he sudden flash as a car runs a red light on many Texas roads sends an unmistakable signal: A ticket will soon be in the mail, courtesy of the red-light camera.

But that flash — and the tickets — could be a thing of the past if state Rep. Jonathan Stickland has his way.

Stickland, R-Bedford, has filed a bill to do away with red-light cameras in Texas.

“I’ve been a liberty guy and a privacy guy,” said Stickland, who noted that getting rid of the cameras is a key issue in his district. “There are privacy concerns with the cameras.

“The Constitution tells us we have the right to face our accuser in court,” he said. “How can you face your accuser if it’s a machine? … This is a big issue.”

Red-light cameras have been controversial from the start.

Critics say government is invading privacy  (go to article)

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This Porta-“Pot”ty Truck Was Hauling More Than Waste

Pumper.com -- In Fayette County, Texas, the driver of a portable restroom service truck was pulled over on Interstate 10 for a traffic violation Wednesday afternoon by the county narcotics unit. While speaking with the driver, the officer became suspicious and obtained permission to search the vehicle with the K-9 unit  (go to article)

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Union rejects latest U.S. refinery workers contract offer

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH -- Union negotiators rejected the latest offer from oil companies covering workers at 63 U.S. refineries on Saturday night, just hours before a strike deadline, according to a message sent to union members.

The United Steelworkers union (USW) said in the text message sent to members that the latest offer was "insulting and fails to address issues that matter to members."

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the lead negotiator for U.S. refinery owners, said it does not comment on details of labor negotiations. The USW talks have been occurring against a backdrop of falling oil prices.

"We remain committed to resolving our differences with the USW at the negotiating table," said Shell spokesman Ray Fisher.

The expiring national contract covers about 30,000 hourly workers at plants that together have...  (go to article)

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Oil’s collapse has cost North American investors $390-billion since June

Bloomberg News -- Investors have a message for suffering U.S. oil drillers: We feel your pain
They’ve pumped $1.4T into the oil and gas industry the past 5 years as oil prices averaged $91. The cash infusion helped push U.S. crude production to the highest in 30 yrs
Now any euphoria over cheaper energy will be tempered by losses that are starting to show up in investment funds, retirement accounts and bank balance sheets. The bear market has wiped out $393B since Jun — $353B from the shares of 76 cies, and $40B from high-yield energy bonds
“The only thing people are noticing now is that gas prices are dropping. People haven’t noticed yet that it’s also hitting their portfolios
The crash caught investors and lenders by surprise. 8 mths ago, Energy XXI sold $650M in bonds. The debt is now trading for 50c/$  (go to article)

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Trucker pulling loose tooth triggers backup on Alabama freeway: r

Reuters -- Reuters) - A truck driver distracted by yanking free his loose tooth veered off the road and caused a miles-long backup on an Alabama freeway, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

The unnamed 57-year-old trucker was driving on Interstate 20/59 near Tuscaloosa when the accident occurred late on Sunday, the Birmingham News reported.

"The driver stated he lost control when he was pulling a tooth with his hands," an Alabama Highway Patrol incident report said, according to the newspaper. "He had the tooth in his shirt pocket as proof."

After veering off the road, the truck went into a ditch before jackknifing into a stand of trees, the newspaper reported.

The accident caused no serious injuries but it triggered a complete shutdown of a three-mile stretch of the freeway and caused delays  (go to article)

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OPEC Sees Oil Prices Exploding to $200 a Barrel

Motley Fool -- Right now the oil market is totally focused on finding a bottom for oil prices. However, according to OPEC's Secretary-General Abdulla al-Badri we've already hit bottom. Not only that, but he sees a real possibility that oil prices could explode higher to upwards of $200 per barrel in the future. He's far from the only one that sees a return of triple-digit oil prices.
Finding a bottom
According to the Secretary-General, the oil market doesn't need to look for oil prices to bottom as the market has already bottomed. Instead, he offered quite bullish comments by saying, "Now the prices are around $45-$55, and I think maybe they [have] reached the bottom and we [will] see some rebound very soon." Now, normally that type of remark would be just another layer of noise, but this is coming from  (go to article)

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Ethanol industry gets its own biotech corn

Star Tribune -- Some ethanol makers are cheering a new biotech corn engineered strictly to produce biofuel. Six Midwestern ethanol plants now use the hybrid called Enogen, the first corn genetically enhanced for ethanol production. Seven other ethanol makers, including Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. in Benson, Minn., are trying it out. “Enogen technology is truly a unique advancement in our industry,” said Mick Miller, general manager of Denco II, a farmer-owned ethanol plant in Morris, Minn., that did a trial run with the ethanol-tailored corn. Scientists for seed giant Syngenta altered the corn to produce — within the kernel — an enzyme needed to refine biofuel. Ethanol plants using Enogen say its embedded enzyme works better than enzymes purchased separately — producing more ethanol per bushel of corn and  (go to article)

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Tesla's Gigafactory May Not Be a Game Changer After All

Motley Fool -- To be fair, the Gigafactory is audacious. According to Tesla, the goal is to produce more batteries by 2020 in this one factory than the entire world created in 2013. So it's not like Procter & Gamble opening a new factory to make soap; it's like P&G opening a factory that makes more soap than all of the soap factories in the entire world (insert maniacal laughter here, Mini-Me). Tesla's goal is to reduce battery costs by as much as 30% by 2017.

This is big because batteries are one of the most expensive components of an all-electric car. Cut the cost, and you can materially reduce the cost of the car. That, in turn, will help to bring electric cars to a point where they can better compete with gasoline-powered autos. Musk and industry watchers are right to be excited about the Gigafactor  (go to article)

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Oklahoma worries over swarm of earthquakes and connection to oil industry

Washington Post -- GUTHRIE, Okla. – The earthquakes come nearly every day now, cracking drywall, popping floor tiles and rattling kitchen cabinets. On Monday, three quakes hit this historic land-rush town in 24 hours, booming and rumbling like the end of the world.

Scientists implicated the oil and gas industry — in particular, the deep wastewater disposal wells that have been linked to a dramatic increase in seismic activity. But in a state founded on oil wealth, officials have been reluctant to
crack down on an industry that accounts for a third of the economy and one in five jobs.

“I understand the oil and gas industry is the economic lifeblood of the state. I get some of my paycheck from the oil and gas industry,” added Lisa Griggs, 56, “But they don’t get to destroy my house.”

State officials insist  (go to article)

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ConocoPhillips tells employees to expect layoffs

Fuel Fix -- HOUSTON — ConocoPhillips has told its employees layoffs could be on the way, as the independent producer looks to reign in spending amid lower crude prices.

The layoffs and an accompanying pay freeze will supplement cost-control steps the Houston company has already taken, such as slashing its exploration and production budget, Daren Beaudo, a spokesman for ConocoPhillips, said in an emailed statement.

The company did not detail how many workers would be let go or when the job cuts could take place.

“As with our capital program we will be deferring, delaying or eliminating controllable costs where we can,” he said. “As part of that we are reviewing our workforce levels in light of a potential for an extended period of low prices. We’ve informed our workforce that reductions should be ex  (go to article)

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Drivers: Return to your dealers for a 2nd air bag recall fix

Associated Press -- The U.S. government says more than 2 million Toyota, Chrysler and Honda vehicles need a second fix for air bags that may inadvertently inflate while the car is running.

The recall includes some Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Avalon models made from 2002 to 2004.
 (go to article)

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$1.1B ‘surge’ funding bill for western North Dakota passes Senate

WDAZ8ABC/FargoND --
BISMARCK – A $1.1 billion spending bill designed to give oil-impacted cities and counties in western North Dakota a jumpstart on the 2015 construction season was fast-tracked through the Senate on Thursday and is now headed to the House.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, said he knew a lot of members had concerns about the amount of money in Senate Bill 2103, the so-called “surge” funding bill, “and probably rightfully so.”

But he said the $720 million in early funding for road projects approved by the 2013 Legislatures paid dividends, and the entire state has reaped the benefits of oil tax revenue in the form of water projects, education funding and property tax relief.

“I can’t think of a more important priority than helping the political (subdivisions) in western....  (go to article)

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King Coal Is Merrily Fiddling the Taxpayer

Newsweek -- In 2002, the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming and Montana surged past the Appalachian coalfields that stretch from Pennsylvania to Tennessee to become the nation’s largest coal-producing region. Today, the PRB occupies a 40 percent share of the U.S. coal market.

Although market forces, mechanization and technological changes help explain some of the coal industry’s decision to shift more production from privately owned lands in the East to federal lands in the American West, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) coal policies have played an equally important—though largely unnoticed—role in this transition.

Specifically, the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) use their royalty-collection authority to subsidize coal production on  (go to article)

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Crude settles up 8% at $48.24, best day since June 2012

CNBC -- Crude oil settled up 8 percent, or $3.71, at $48.24 on Friday, its best day since June 2012, after data showed U.S. drillers were slamming the brakes on the shale drilling boom.
The commodity still ended the month lower, for a seven-month decline.
Oil spiked $3 heading into the close on Friday as products were set to expire on the last day of the month and after oil companies made further cuts to capital expenditures and took more rigs offline.
 (go to article)

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Fracking likely linked to 4.4 magnitude quake in Fox Creek

CBC News -- Alberta's provincial energy regulator says a significant earthquake in northern Alberta was likely caused by hydraulic fracturing.

If fracturing is confirmed as the cause, scientists say, it will have been the largest earthquake ever to result from using the method.

Residents in the town of Fox Creek noticed the earthquake a week ago on Jan. 22. It was of 4.4 magnitude, severe enough to cause minor damage.

 (go to article)

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Driverless cars will mean the end of mass car ownership

Vox -- self-driving cars have the potential to reduce accident rates, make commuting less stressful, save energy, and put a lot of truck and taxi drivers out of work. But it could also have an even bigger consequence: ending personal car ownership altogether. And that would be a good thing.
Right now most middle-class people own cars, in part because only rich people can afford to take a taxi everywhere they go. Self-driving cars will flip the relative costs of ownership and renting upside down, leading to a world where renting cars is the affordable norm and owning cars is the pricey exception.

We take consumer car ownership for granted because it's how things have always worked. That blinds us to how profoundly wasteful it is. Not only do our cars spend 90 percent of their lives sitting unuse  (go to article)

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Seven Reasons Cheap Oil Can't Stop Renewables Now

bloomberg.com -- Oil prices have fallen by more than half since July. Just five years ago, such a plunge in fossil fuels would have put the renewable-energy industry on bankruptcy watch. Today: Meh.
Here are seven reasons why humanity’s transition to cleaner energy won’t be sidetracked by cheap oil.
1. The Sun Doesn't Compete With Oil
Oil is for cars; renewables are for electricity. The two don’t really compete. Oil is just too expensive to power the grid, even with prices well below $50 a barrel.
Instead, solar competes with coal, natural gas, hydro, and nuclear power. Solar, the newest to the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but will be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency. Demand is so strong that the biggest limit to in  (go to article)

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Fargo Zamboni driver arrested on suspicion of DUI when game spectators report erratic ice-cleaning

Inforum.com -- FARGO – The man who was arrested here Friday night on suspicion of driving a Zamboni while drunk during a high school hockey game was also arrested a month ago for drunk driving. Steven James Anderson, 27, was arrested during the Davies and Williston girls game Friday night at South Arena after spectators and school officials noticed him driving erratically while resurfacing the ice. A school official called police to the arena, where he was arrested.  (go to article)

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BP Injects Humor Into New Fuels Advertising

Convenience Store News -- CHICAGO — BP launched a new advertising campaign featuring two rotating television and digital video spots, complemented by a radio spot in select areas, for its BP gasoline with Invigorate.

The ad campaign, slated to run throughout 2015, features two TV spots “Bachelor” and “Concert,” as well as a radio spot “Driving Stick,” which focus on the stories of travelers who are in the midst of humorous travel situations where their sole focus is getting to their destination.

BP gasoline with Invigorate is the trusted solution on which they rely, according to the ads. The spots close with the phrase, “You have places to go. Let us worry about getting you there.”  (go to article)

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Who Will Scoop Up Esso? Answer depends on whether, how Imperial Oil decides to move ahead with brand

CSPnet.com -- CALGARY, Alberta -- Initiating a non-binding bid process that will begin in the coming weeks, Imperial Oil Ltd. said on Tuesday that it is evaluating the potential transition of its remaining company-owned Esso retail gas stations to a branded wholesaler operating model. It will also evaluate the growth opportunities for the On the Run convenience store brand.

The move prompted analyst speculation that Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the Laval, Quebec-based convenience store retail giant that operates Mac's and Couche-Tard stores in Canada and Circle K stores in the United States, will go after the Esso network.  (go to article)

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Duke Energy ices solar farm idea for mid Pinellas County, Florida

tampabay.com -- Duke Energy Florida has iced its idea to build a solar farm in mid Pinellas County or anywhere else, at least for now.
The Tampa Bay Times reported last summer that Duke was considering about 22 acres of county-owned land for a solar farm. The site off 119th Street N between Ulmerton and Walsingham roads is a former landfill adjacent to Heritage Village, the County Extension Office and the Florida Botanical Gardens.
Duke officials called the county last month to report that the proposal had been put on hold. Ivey said the company was waiting for the PSC's decision before starting engineering and design studies to determine if the site was suitable.  (go to article)

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Oil bottom could be right around the corner

CNBC -- Jim Cramer is gearing up for another event-packed week. But the reality is, the U.S. just can't save the world. We can't make the Chinese spend more money or force Europe to make real structural changes any more than we can direct the Japanese in finding a new way to grow besides dumping cars on us.  (go to article)

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Cullen/Frost CEO: We can handle oil at $37

CNBC -- From drilling and exploration names, to companies that service America's fracking industry, oil's massive price drop over the past 6 months has had ripple effects across the country. Still, one Texas bank CEO insists that even if crude falls another 20 percent, his firm can weather the storm  (go to article)

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Lac-Mégantic disaster by the numbers: Catalogue of a tragedy

CBC News -- 54% of town's residents suffered from depression, PTSD after explosion: health report

Lac-Mégantic coroner says 47 deaths were 'violent, avoidable'

In July 2013, a freight train carrying 72 cars of oil derailed and exploded in the centre of Lac-Mégantic.

The explosion killed 47 people, and hundreds of thousands of litres of oil spilled into the Chaudière River as a consequence of the derailment.

Lac-Mégantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said Wednesday the recovery period will be extensive for residents.

In the direct aftermath of the tragedy, resources were rushed in to meet the town’s immediate needs and its citizens were well cared for, she said.

The fear, she said, is that those services may not be there in the longer term. She urged officials to recognize ongoing mental-health supp  (go to article)

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Energy may see further weakness as key names report

Reuters -- Stock prices in the U.S. energy sector have been under pressure in 2015, and there could be more bad news to come when several key players report their fourth-quarter results next week.

The group has been falling alongside crude oil prices, which are down about 60 percent since June. That drop has led to not only weaker shares - the S&P Energy index is one of the worst-performing groups of 2015, and it was last year's worst - but also sharply lower earnings estimates for both the current quarter and the full year.
 (go to article)

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The Car of the Future May Run on Gasoline

The Wall Street Journal -- When most of us picture the high-tech personal mobility of the future, we tend to imagine a sleek, dead-quiet electric car, packed with voice- or motion-directed gizmos and self-driving features. We see ourselves gliding around almost effortlessly, free to talk, work or text as we see fit.

What few of us conjure up is having this sort of experience in a gasoline-fueled car. But that may be changing in the face of recent design advances. The internal combustion engine—the workhorse of the industrial age—is proving to be much more than a stubborn technological incumbent.

More than a century after becoming the dominant way that people move around, gas-powered cars are challenging ostensibly more advanced electric vehicles. It has proved hard to beat engines in which fuel is ignited, drive  (go to article)

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A Quirky Car Collection on the Cape, in Red and Mostly British

NY Times -- Housed in a custom-built storage building, the collection is a snapshot of a period in auto history when Britain was a major automaker and its sports cars captured the imagination of America’s postwar generation.

The cars, packed in tightly as if in a New York parking lot, are each lettered Minuteman Racing, a nod to the days when the owner, BillPutman,competed in races staged by the Sports Car Club of America.  (go to article)

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Eastern refineries processing more foreign oil as crude price gap narrows

The Globe and Mail - CALGARY -- Canadian refineries are taking in a surge of foreign oil supplies as the price difference between U.S. and international crude narrows
In QC, imports of crude from Angola, Nigeria and Ivory Coast climbed in Q4 while U.S. deliveries fell sharply by 37%
Irving’s 300Kbpd plant in NB has cut back on N Am supplies and is buying a range of water-borne crudes, including more from W Africa and the N Sea
The Atlantic trade is a reflection of renewed competition for market share in a region that benefitted most from the U.S. shale boom
For years, E refineries in QC and NB sought to replace overseas imports with cheaper N Am production. Companies invested heavily in rail capacity and backstopped pipelines
"But certainly we’re going to see E Coast refineries source both
NL's 115Kbpd Come by Chance ref  (go to article)

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GM cuts starting prices on 4 vehicles by up to $2,600

Detroit News -- General Motors Co. is introducing four cheaper base models on big-selling vehicles to better compete and attract value-minded buyers.

For the 2015 model year, GM has new starting prices for the Chevrolet Cruze and Equinox, the Buick LaCrosse and GMC Terrain. Sticker prices for the new base models vary, but GM cut between $1,500 and $2,600 from previous starting prices. In some cases, they are now lower than competitors'.

"This approach is designed to increase awareness and consideration of our vehicles," Buick and GMC spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato said in an email.

Alex Bernstein, a car-pricing analyst with CarsDirect.com, a California-based online car-buying service, said he happened upon the starting price of the Cruze L compact car about a month ago. It was $1,575 cheaper (before destin  (go to article)

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Big Oil needs to go on a diet now that the $100 a barrel party is over

Fortune -- High oil prices gave the oil industry several bad habits, including runaway spending, poor planning, and engineering mistakes. Now that oil prices have declined, the industry needs to change its ways, quickly.

Energy companies will need to do more than just cut costs and renegotiate service contracts to remain afloat at $40 a barrel oil—they need to quit being so darn sloppy.

A decade of strong oil prices made Big Oil rich and fat, which has led to waste across the industry. This not only translated into runaway spending at the corporate level—including everything from executive jets to overly-generous pay packages—it also led to poor planning and greater engineering mistakes on the field. The energy companies could hide their bungling when oil was at $100 a barrel...  (go to article)

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Woman drives to NY State Police barracks; gets booked for DUI

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..nydailynews.comEarlier this week New York State Police arrested a 23-year old woman for DUI.  Since she was driving with a blood alcohol content three times over the legal limit of blood alcohol content, this incident certainly could have ended with tragic consequences...

But instead, it turned out better than anyone could ever have expected.  No crashes, no fatalities. No injuries.  Allison Sobczak apparently wanted to register a complaint with someone... And, (whether she was aware of where she was going we'll leave up to you) she drove her vehicle to NY state trooper barracks in Batavia.

The police smelled the alcohol and booked her after she failed field sobriety tests and breathalyzer test that reportedly revealed she had a 0.24 per cent blood alcohol content — which is more than three times the legal limit.  ...  (go to article)

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Hackers Could Unlock BMWs Remotely

Tom's Guide -- While a BMW is arguably one of the safest cars you can buy in terms of performance, it's not especially secure when it comes to wireless features. German automotive researchers recently confirmed that malefactors can take advantage of BMW's ConnectedDrive feature to use a smartphone to break into almost any BMW, Mini or Rolls-Royce vehicle that comes equipped with ConnectedDrive.

ADAC, a prominent automobile club in Germany, has just released information about this vulnerability, for which a patch has already been pushed out to vehicles (which have their own cellular connections) and mobile phones. BMW tells ADAC that all affected models should be patched by Jan. 31.

It's not possible using this flaw to unlock a BMW that isn't yours, nor is it possible to start the car, but a savvy thief  (go to article)

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Chevron CEO: $50 oil will not meet world’s energy need

Fuel Fix -- The CEO of oil giant Chevron Corp. said Friday that $50 crude oil wouldn’t be enough to meet the global economy’s longer-term energy needs.

Crude oil has fallen by more half since highs reached this summer as global supply has outpaced demand. But on fourth-quarter earnings call with investors, Chevron CEO John Watson said that long-term prices would have to be high enough to support the kinds of billion-dollar projects his company – and other majors – pursue.

For the quarter, the news was bleak: Chevron reported falling profits, slashed its budget and hinted at layoffs on the way. Longer-term, Watson was more optimistic for big oil.

“It’s very clear that the incremental barrels are coming for more complex developments over time,” Watson said. ”With all the enthusiasm around shale, I...  (go to article)

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Union not happy with latest company offer in refinery negotiations

FuelFix -- Members of the United Steelworkers union are preparing for a strike and companies are training supervisors in case they’re needed to keep plants running as labor talks go to the wire.

At 12:01 a.m. Sunday, contracts covering 30,000 workers at refineries, pipelines, oil terminals and petrochemical plants nationwide —including about 5,000 in Houston — are set to expire.

A team of union negotiators is meeting with representatives of Shell Oil Co., which is negotiating on behalf of the industry. The contracts cover 64 percent of the nation’s refining capacity, according to the United Steelworkers.

If a tentative deal is reached at the national bargaining table, local unions will vote on it. If it gets a thumbs up, the agreement would set the national standard for wages and benefits.
 (go to article)

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Florida Power and Light looks to add solar power to the Suncoast

abc7 WWSB MySuncoast -- They may look like something straight out of science fiction, but these panels are actually gathering sunlight and turning it into energy to power our homes and offices. Now -- Florida Power and Light is hoping to use this energy to their advantage.
"Right now we use a lot of natural gas and we use nuclear and we're very excited to bring more solar into the mix," says Sarah Gatewood, a spokesperson for FPL.
FPL's plan is to take the area around their natural gas plant in Manatee County and turn it into a farm of solar panels. The same goes for Desoto and Charlotte counties.
"It will be hundreds of acres of solar panels and all of the electricity generated there goes straight to the grid for all of FPL's customers to enjoy."  (go to article)

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Xcel proposes low-cost, off-peak rates for plug-in cars

Star Tribune -- Plugging in an electric vehicle soon will get significantly cheaper for Minnesota customers of Xcel Energy Inc., the state’s largest power company.

The utility asked state regulators Friday to approve a rate for overnight home charging of electric cars at a 43 percent discount to residential service. The rate, if approved as proposed, likely will roll out in about six months, Xcel said.

“We are trying to provide more options for customers,” Chris Clark, president of Xcel’s Minnesota regional operations, said in an interview Friday. “This is really how we’re seeing the future. We think customers are going to want to tailor their energy services to what their particular uses are.”

Clark said electric vehicle owners would save about $9 per month under the proposed rate of 3.3 cents per kil  (go to article)

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New Jersey mayors join opposition to drilling in Atlantic

CBS News -- Mayors of several New Jersey shore towns are joining with members of Congress from the state to oppose allowing oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

President Barack Obama's administration this week proposed allowing drilling rights to areas 50 miles off the coasts of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia to be auctioned off no sooner than 2021, when Obama is long out of office.

While some officials in the region closest to the drilling support the concept, officials from New Jersey are vigorously opposing it, arguing that the U.S. should be pushing for more renewable energy and that it's not even known what kind of oil reserves are under the ocean in the region. But their main concern seems to be the possibility of a spill.

Don Guardian, the Republican Mayor of Atlantic City,  (go to article)

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Mexico cuts spending by $8.4 billion because of oil price drop, high-speed rail put on hold

Associated Press -- MEXICO CITY — Mexico said Friday it will cut government spending by $8.4 billion this year because of a drop in revenues due to declining oil prices.

Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said the government will put on hold plans for a high-speed rail project that has been marred by allegations of favoritism.

Mexico has seen prices for its oil fall in recent months from around $100 to $38.42 per barrel. The government relies on oil revenues for about a third of its budget.

The cuts, to be borne mainly by the state-owned oil and electricity companies, are equivalent to about 0.7 percent of Mexico's GDP.

A Mexican firm allied with Chinese companies won the high-speed rail contract in November. They were the only bidders for the proposed railway, which would connect Mexico City with the nearby  (go to article)

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Honda invests $340 million in Ohio for fuel-efficient cars

Bloomberg -- DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co. will invest $340 million to build fuel-efficient, gasoline engines in Ohio, as it plans a slate of new electric cars in a push for more vehicles with lower emissions.

Honda has added an assembly line at its Anna, Ohio, plant to build the new turbo-charged, four-cylinder gasoline engines, set to debut later this year.  (go to article)

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5 Keystone XL pipeline hurdles still ahead

CBC News -- Obama's veto power may be the last major hurdle for pipeline
Despite the vote, the TC pipeline project still faces big hurdles in the U.S
2.Falling oil prices
DoS report also says that at prices below $75 "higher transportation costs could have a substantial impact on oilsands production levels
3.The Keystone XL price tag
The projected cost of Keystone XL has gone from an initial $5.4B to $8B.The company has already spent $2.4B
4.The NE court case
Some of the landowners who brought the original suit have now launched 2 new cases because the court didn't answer a constitutional question at the centre of the case
5.Public opposition
Keystone XL has become a focus of the U.S. environmental movement and some Native American groups, with the support of a number of celebrities, including Neil Yo  (go to article)

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Did Alberta just break a Fracking Earthquake World Record

RCI a.k.a. CBC -- Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada has experienced a magnitude 4.4 earthquake, which residents ascribe to ongoing and extensive fracking operations in the area. Other reports and related stories state that Alberta seismologists have previously linked the increasing frequency of earthquakes to fracking, although they say that it is too early to say definitively that the Fox Creek quake is fracking-induced.  (go to article)

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PA Gov. Wolf Signs Moratorium On Fracking On State Lands

CBS local TV station KDKA Pittsburgh -- Using one of Pennsylvania's 120 state parks as back-drop, Gov. Tom Wolf signed his third executive order on Thursday. Watch/listen to video  (go to article)

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Nuclear Waste Dump Troubling Residents Of Armstrong Co. Town

CBS local TV station KDKA Pittsburgh -- What may be the most dangerous nuclear waste dump in the nation sits just 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, in Armstrong County.
As the government plans to excavate that waste, people who live nearby are nervous.  (go to article)

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‘Bomb Train’ Suits Seen Slowing U.S. Oil Independence

Bloomberg -- Rail yard projects vital to the flow of crude from the shale oil boom are being waylaid by legal challenges that may slow the march to U.S. energy independence.

Crude-oil handling facilities along rail lines in cities from Albany, New York, to Richmond, California, are mired in lawsuits by community and environmental groups claiming they were kept in the dark about the projects. They accuse local regulators of giving cursory review and rubber-stamping operating permits for proposals that pose threats to their safety and the environment.

In Albany, pollution regulators who examine such projects for dirty-air potential are grappling with 19,000 comments from residents more worried about exploding trains.

Citizen complaints about the move to rail as a new means of transporting oil initiall  (go to article)

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Enterprise U.S. Oil Annual Tender Fails on Low Bids -Traders

Reuters -- Enterprise Products Partners failed to award a one-year tender to sell processed condensate after a round of low bids, U.S. and Asian trade sources said on Friday.

High freight costs and a narrowing in prices for Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude have made it difficult for traders to export U.S. oil to Asia and Europe.

Last week, Enterprise offered to sell a monthly 600,000-barrel cargo of processed condensate over a year-long period, with deliveries starting in March, a tender document showed.

But, without securing the annual commitment, Enterprise has turned to offering spot cargoes for the ultra-light oil, a U.S.-based trader said.

Traders say the main issue is that the tender for the typically discounted product was not attractive, given the arbitrage between Brent and U.S. c  (go to article)

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Oil crash has graduates rethinking careers

Thé Globe and Mail -- 6 MOHs ago, a degree in petroleum engineering was a ticket to a job with a six-figure salary. Now it’s looking like a path to the unemployment office.
The oil crash that’s forcing companies to slash billions from their budgets and cut tens of thousands of workers is derailing an industry campaign to attract top college graduates. It comes at a time when the future of drilling is increasingly tied to new technology that lets companies pull more oil and natural gas from the ground, faster and cheaper
Young people who swarmed to newly designed energy programs at schools from TX to CA are now questioning whether they can count on crude for their future, according to interviews with students, counsellors and company officials
“It’s time for me to do a reassessment of how I plan to begin my care  (go to article)

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