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Feds push car firms to fix safety defects before renting or selling

GasBuddy Blog --
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxU.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind joined elected officials, representatives from the rental car industry, and consumer safety advocates in calling on Congress to pass legislation that would require rental car agencies and used car dealers to fix safety defects before renting or selling vehicles subject to a recall.
JThe GROW AMERICA Act includes provisions that would require rental car agencies to remedy any safety defects under recall before renting a vehicle, and require used car dealers to do the same before selling a vehicle. Under current law, new cars must be fixed before sale. However, no similar federal provision exists for rental car agencies or used car dealers. In Richmond, major rental car agencies as well as a leading consumer group joined the department’s call for legislation to ensure rental cars with safety recalls are repaired before a consumer  (go to article)

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State Lawmakers Set To Discuss Recent Rise In Gas Prices

KCBS-2/KCAL-9 News -- If you’re curious why gas prices keep going up, you’re not alone.
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CBS-2? has learned that state lawmakers plan to take a closer look at price hikes and refinery safety during two hearings scheduled for next month.  (go to article)

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Ohio oil well output doubles in a year; natural gas triples

ohio.com(AP) -- Oil production has more than doubled and production of natural gas has tripled in Ohio in one year, bolstering arguments by the administration of Gov. John Kasich that the industry is thriving enough to sustain a tax increase.

Statistics released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources showed more than 3.5 million barrels of oil and 164 billion cubic feet of natural gas were produced during the last three months of 2014. During the same quarter in 2013, Ohio wells produced 1.4 million barrels of oil and 43 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The increase was fueled by a building boom of wells.
During this week’s State of the State address, the Republican governor dismissed claims by the oil-and-gas industry that they’d be devastated by his proposed tax increase.

“The pros

 (go to article)

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North Dakota House endorses change to oil and gas production tax distribution formula

therepublic.com(AP) -- The North Dakota House voted Thursday to revamp a formula used to distribute oil and gas production tax revenue, a move aimed at giving more funding to communities to help pay for the consequences of oil development.

In its final action before the Legislature's mid-session break, the House voted 70-18 to amend the formula that would give more funding to counties, cities, schools and townships in and around western North Dakota's oil patch.

The legislation is less than what has been proposed Gov. Jack Dalrymple and sought by leaders in the region. The bill, expected to be the most debated of the session, now heads to the Senate. Its final version will be decided by a conference committee of three House members and three senators, with the negotiated legislation subject to more House and

 (go to article)

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Badge On Board

Las Vegas Review Journal -- The passenger seat of a semitrailer offers an exceptional view into the cab of passing vehicles.

Elevated above Las Vegas motorists on the 215 Beltway, Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Cooke said he spotted 48 drivers who were violating the law Wednesday.

As part of NHP’s “Badge on Board” campaign, Cooke said, troopers work together, targeting dangerous drivers on valley freeways by hunting them down in the most unsuspecting, unmarked police vehicle — an 18-wheeler.  (go to article)

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The Natural Gas Myth

Forbes -- There’s a pernicious argument being made against energy efficiency, and it goes like this. Last winter was one of the warmest on record, so people had to spend less to heat their homes and businesses. That, combined with a “drilling binge ” in shale gas and new production, made for record low natural gas in prices in April, at less than $2 per million British thermal units (MMBtu). This phenomenon has boosted the U.S. economy to the tune of more than $100 billion annually, by one estimate. With such low prices, the thinking goes, investments in alternative energy and energy efficiency don’t make sense.  (go to article)

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Natural gas futures fall despite frigid temperatures

FuelFix -- HOUSTON — Not even powerful cold could save natural gas prices.

Traders sent the price down on the fuel’s benchmark futures contract on bearish inventory data, despite chilling temperatures and a winter front that has blanketed much of the country in snow. The next-month futures contract for Henry Hub natural gas fell by 13 cents, or about 4.6 percent, to $2.731 per million British thermal unit in early trading Thursday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly report on natural gas inventories showed a higher-than-normal withdraw of natural gas for the week ending Feb. 20, but even that strong draw didn’t measure up to analysts’ expectations.  (go to article)

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Top US Shale Player (EOG Resources) Redirects Strategy To Prepare For The Rebound

oilpro.com -- Leading US shale player EOG Resources has been forced to drastically reckon with falling oil prices.

In its 3Q14 earnings statement in November, EOG said it did not intend to reduce operations even with falling oil prices. But with today's announcement of a 40% cut to its 2015 capex, its plan to add no new drilling rigs this year, hydraulically frac 45% fewer wells, and its expectation of flat production compared to last year, EOG has redirected its strategy to prepare itself to vigorously respond to a rebound in the oil price.

...  (go to article)

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Strike Now Includes The Largest Refinery In The US

oilpro.com -- As the largest oil worker strike in 35 years rolled over into its 20th day on Saturday at 12:00am, United Steelworkers Union (USW) members at the largest refinery in the US gave notice of a walkout.

Shortly following the cessation of another round of unproductive talks between the USW and oil company representatives ended Friday night, the union notified Motiva Enterprises (a joint venture between Shell Oil and Saudi Refining) of a strike by its members at the company's refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, which has a capacity of 600,250 bpd.

The USW said in a statement emailed to Oilpro Friday night (February 20) that it is also giving notices of strikes to start in 24 hours at Motiva's refineries in Norco and Convent, Louisiana, and the Shell chemical plant in Norco....  (go to article)

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Leak at BP refinery in Whiting 2nd malfunction this week

WISH-TV8-AP -- A BP refinery in northwest Indiana has seen its second major malfunction in three days.

The Times of Munster reports a leak happened at a pipe still Wednesday morning at the Whiting refinery. The unit accounts for roughly one-quarter of the refinery’s production capacity.

A BP spokesman says it’s unclear how long repairs will take, but that the refinery is still making gasoline and other fuels. The facility is the largest in the Midwest.

Massive flames also shot up through flare stacks Monday. The BP spokesman says nobody was hurt and that production had been restored.

About 1,100 union workers have been on strike at the plant since early February. Those workers make up more than half of the refinery’s workforce.  (go to article)

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Gas prices volatile, but not due to strike

Springfield News-Sun -- A month-long U.S. refinery strike has spread to Ohio, but analysts said it should have little short-term affect on local gas prices or convenience store chains like Speedway.

The issue is something analysts says they will keep an eye on if the dispute between the United Steelworkers Union International and the refineries continues long-term, said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for Gasbuddy.com.

“It could become a point of nervousness for the market the longer this goes on, obviously the bigger situation it becomes,” DeHaan said. “But so far there’s not really an impact at the pump yet.”

Earlier this week, members of the United Steelworkers Local 1-346 demonstrated outside the Marathon Petroleum Corp. offices in Findlay, Ohio, according to information on the group’s...  (go to article)

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Ford’s F-150 Helps Rescue Aluminum From Commodities’ Bear

Bloomberg -- Ford Motor Co. is helping to pull aluminum from the bear markets afflicting most commodities by adding to an increase in industrial use.

The company is hiring workers to expand production of its F-150 pickup after a switch to an aluminum body helped spur demand that has exceeded the company’s plans. As auto use increases, U.S. consumption of the metal will rise about 7 percent in 2015 from 2014 to 5.38 million tons, the highest since 2006, according to Morgan Stanley.

Even as the Bloomberg Commodity Index trades near a 12-year low, aluminum prices are up almost 2 percent in the past 12 months, the biggest gain behind cattle. Ford’s move to go with the lightweight metal that helps to improve fuel mileage is a “line in the sand” for carmakers, Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader  (go to article)

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Carmakers Find That Turbos Are a Powerful Path to Fuel Efficiency

The New York Times -- EVEN as electric cars stall with Americans, another fuel-saving technology is revolutionizing the morning commute: the turbocharger.

Once mostly the province of expensive sports and luxury cars, turbochargers are proliferating in everything from budget compacts to burly pickup trucks. As automakers scramble to lift their average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — the target set by the Environmental Protection Agency — turbochargers have become a key to unlocking higher mileage without sacrificing the performance consumers demand.

In the process, analysts say, their efficiency has had the unintended effect of helping slow the broader adoption of alternative-fuel vehicles.

How does it work? A turbocharger essentially reuses hot exhaust gases — energy that would otherwise...  (go to article)

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Tracks back open after Fayette train disaster

Charleston Gazette - MOUNT CARBON, W.Va. -- The railway is back open and the state of emergency is over 11 days after a CSX oil train derailed and exploded in Fayette Cty
“Rail operations have resumed with caution as workers continue cleanup activities at the site
Gov.Tomblin also he lifted the state of emergency for Fayette and Kanawha Cties
The response team installed a 500-ft retaining wall between the railway and the Kanawha R to keep pollutants from getting into the river. Crews built an access road from the work area to WV 61
Crews will now begin removing contaminated soil from the site
97,000 gal of an oil-water mixture will be taken to an oil recycling facility in SW PA. 172,000 gal of crude oil have been recovered from the crippled rail cars
Air monitoring in the Mt Carbon has stopped, as 40,000 air samples showed no impact  (go to article)

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Gasoline begins annual price rise despite cheaper crude

Houston Chronicle -- Houston motorists are paying more than $2 per gallon for gasoline again, as seasonal factors begin counteracting lower crude prices that have brought joy at the pump and grief to the oil capital's chief industry.

The average price for regular in Houston on Tuesday was $2.11, up from $1.83 just a month ago, according to data from AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Nationally, the price of gasoline has advanced for 29 consecutive days to an average of $2.31.

Gasoline was more than a dollar higher this time last year, though, and the money saved has padded consumers' wallets even while oil companies spend less and lay off employees.

Gasoline prices typically rise as warmer weather approaches because refineries shut down for scheduled maintenance, reducing supplies on the market. Refineries als  (go to article)

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Buy a new car? Are you crazy?

USA Today -- People shopping for new cars should stop, right now, and think about it, Consumer Reports says, though it does not say so quite as bluntly.

"Buying a new car might be a lousy financial move," warns the widely consulted publication, which posted its comprehensive annual auto report online Tuesday and mails its April auto issue print magazine to subscribers next week. The April issue hits newsstands March 5.

The overriding reason: You're about to spend a lot more than you think and more than you probably need to.  (go to article)

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Continental 'Cloud-To-Car' Navigation Boosts Fuel Efficiency By 3 Percent

Green Car Reports -- Carmakers are working to optimize virtually ever part of new models for fuel efficiency. Soon, that may even include the navigation system.

German automotive supplier Continental claims its Dynamic Electronic Horizon (eHorizon) system can do just that, using real-time information.

The company unveiled an advanced version of its system--which uses cloud connectivity--at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month.

It hopes to use this cloud-to-car arrangement to allow the majority of vehicles to "talk" to each other in the near future, according to industry trade journal Wards Auto.  (go to article)

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Lower gasoline prices dampen U.S. consumer inflation

Reuters -- U.S. consumer prices fell over the past year for the first time since 2009 as gasoline prices continued to tumble, which could allow a cautious Federal Reserve more room to hold off on raising interest rates.

Other data on Thursday showed a rebound in business investment spending plans and a steadily firming labor market, suggesting the move into deflation territory would be brief. In addition, gasoline prices have been rising in recent weeks.

"We believe the Fed will wait until September before achieving liftoff on interest rates and, even then, the process of normalization will move at a glacial pace," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.

The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index fell 0.1 percent in the 12 months through January, the first declin  (go to article)

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Global equities fall as oil sinks...

Reuters -- Global equities dipped on Thursday as investor enthusiasm was dampened by a pullback in oil prices related to rising inventories, while the dollar rose as economic data drove expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

The U.S. S&P 500 ended down, led by an 1.8 percent drop in energy shares. Brent crude settled down 2.6 percent and U.S. crude fell 5.5 percent.

The Nasdaq was a bright spot in U.S. equities, rising on news of a technology deal as it drew closer to its lifetime peak, hit in 2000.

U.S. consumer prices fell in the 12 months through January, the first such decline since 2009 as gasoline prices continued to tumble, but core prices, which exclude volatile items such as food and gasoline, rose more than expected.  (go to article)

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Toyota Camry Hybrid Battery: Electrician Spent $10, Not $4,000, To Fix

Yahoo Autos -- Who said modern cars are too complicated to work on at home?

Some hybrid cars have been on the road for more than a decade now, but every vehicle needs some kind of maintenance eventually.

Faced with a potentially expensive bill, one Toyota Camry Hybrid owner took matters into his own hands, fixing the car's battery pack himself.

The repair cost about $10, but would have cost $4,400 if done by a dealer, the owner, Imgur user scoodidabop explained in a post.

The owner worked as an electrician with his father, so when his Toyota dealer said the entire pack would have to be replaced, he decided to try repairing it instead.

The hybrid battery pack contain 34 copper connectors that link its nickel-metal-hydride cells together, and they were all corroded. The cells were actually fine, but t  (go to article)

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U.S. Tells Canada Its Climate Goal May Affect Keystone Decision

Bloomberg -- - U.S. climate negotiators have told their Canadian counterparts that Canada’s plan to cut carbon emissions could be one of the factors that President Barack Obama weighs as he considers whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a U.S. official said.
The U.S. hasn’t suggested it might approve the $8 billion proposed project in exchange for climate commitments, the official said. Canada is developing a proposal as part of United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at cutting carbon emissions that governments were encouraged to submit by next month.
The notion that there’s any linkage between Canada’s UN goals and the president’s decision on the pipeline is patently false, said another U.S official familiar with the issue. There is a longstanding process for determining these projects, and the  (go to article)

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US crude settles down 5.5%, at $48.17 a barrel

CNBC --
Ample global supply and increasing U.S. commercial inventories weighed on U.S. crude prices on Thursday after expectations for better demand going forward lifted prices a day earlier, traders and analysts said.
U.S. crude settled 5.5 percent lower, or $2.82, at $48.17 a barrel, following a more than 3 percent gain in the previous session.

Brent losses were tempered by expectations for improving global demand and geopolitical concerns about energy supplies from Libya and Russia.

Benchmark Brent crude fell $1.60 to $60 a barrel, after hitting a session peak of $62.63. On Wednesday, Brent surged 5 percent.

Earlier, Brent's premium to U.S. crude increased to $12.06 intraday on Thursday, the widest since January 2014.  (go to article)

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MDOT plans 'dynamic shoulders' as part of $76 million U.S. 23 overhaul

MLive -- The Michigan Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on a plan developed to help relieve rush hour traffic on U.S. 23 north of Ann Arbor.

The $76 million project will include the implementation of an active traffic management system that will use "dynamic shoulders" to open additional lanes of traffic. The plan also calls for the replacement of four bridges that do not meet state standards and general maintenance on more than 10 miles of highway from the U.S. 23 and M-14 interchange to Silver Lake Road north of Whitmore Lake.

The biggest change for motorists will be the traffic management system that will open the interior shoulders of the road to help relieve rush-hour traffic. During peak morning hours, the left shoulder of southbound U.S. 23 will be opened to vehicles  (go to article)

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Residents to lawmakers: No tolls

Connecticutt Post -- Residents across the state, and especially in southwestern Connecticut, resoundingly told a legislative committee Wednesday they don't want highway tolls on the borders.

"This is a nightmare for me," said Andrew Burke, a Greenwich business owner. "It will add traffic locally from toll dodgers and add daily expenses for deliveries."

Joseph Jowdy, a Danbury resident, called tolls a tax that would hurt the state's economy.

"No border tolls," he said. "This is a tax on commuters. It will affect everything, including real estate sales."

A public hearing before the General Assembly's Transportation Committee on a bill to authorize electronic tolls at the state's borders prompted more than 500 people to file opinions -- mostly opposed -- through the committee's website.

 (go to article)

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NYC trucker accused of avoiding toll with device inspired by James Bond

Reuters -- A trucker accused of using a James Bond-style retractable bumper to evade a $95 toll on the George Washington Bridge has been charged with using burglary tools, police said on Thursday.

Hauling a load of candy across the bridge toward New York City on Wednesday, Pablo Ortega flipped a switch on his dashboard as he approached the toll gates over the Hudson River. That engaged a device that tilted up the truck's bumper and attached license plate, said Joseph Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police.
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Gas Prices to Spike Across U.S. During Next Two Weeks

GasBuddy Blog -- The transition from ‘winter blend’ to ‘summer blend’ gasoline always brings increases in retail gasoline prices, but nothing you’ve seen over the past year is likely to match what GasBuddy anticipates over the next two to three weeks.“Wednesday brought a big price rally in gasoline markets and gasoline wholesalers are seeing huge increases,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “Wholesale prices today alone have increased coast to coast from 10 to 27 cents per gallon; and when you add that on top of the increases that occurred earlier this month, it’s inevitable that retail prices will climb aggressively in weeks ahead.”...  (go to article)

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GM cutting production at two North American car plants: source

Reuters -- DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co is cutting production at two of its North American car plants as supplies of vehicles including the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Regal rise, a person familiar with the company's plans said on Wednesday.

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Ford adding 400 jobs at Oakville, Ont., plant to produce new Edge crossover SUV

The Canadian Press -- OAKVILLE, Ont. - Ford Motor Co. says it will add 400 new jobs at its assembly plant in Oakville, Ont. where production of the new Ford Edge crossover SUV is set to launch.

Ford has said last October that 1,000 jobs would be added at the facility by the end of 2014 to build the redesigned Edge.

 (go to article)

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New Jersey hearing draws opponents to PennEast pipeline

The Associated Press -- EWING, N.J. (AP) - Opponents of a proposed 114-mile pipeline that would carry natural gas from northeast Pennsylvania to New Jersey outnumbered supporters during a hearing in Mercer County.

Wednesday's meeting in Ewing examined the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's environmental impact assessment of the proposed PennEast pipeline.

The Times of Trenton (http://bit.ly/18oG0jt ) reports some people asked the agency to locate the pipeline along existing rights of way. Others feared the pipeline would threaten the environment and future land preservation. Many questioned the need for the project.
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Saudi Aramco cancels rig contract

UPI --

HOUSTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. rig company Hercules Offshore said Thursday one of its drilling contracts with the main oil company in Saudi Arabia was terminated.

Saudi Aramco cancelled a contract to lease the Hercules 261 rig, effective March 27. The company said it's been in talks with the Saudi oil company to reduce the day rates for two other rigs, Hercules 262 and Hercules 266.

"The company has not received a notice of termination from Saudi Aramco with respect to these rigs," Hercules said in a statement.

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Are oil producers running out of closet space?

CNBC -- Oil supply running ahead of demand hasn't just pressured prices, it's also filling up storage space, potentially pushing crude toward another leg down.

"We're going to see pretty fast inventory builds over the next few weeks," Francisco Blanch, head of commodity research at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, told CNBC Wednesday, noting that global supply is running around 1.4 million barrels a day above demand.

"If you run out of space, prices tend to react a lot more violently to adjust that supply and demand imbalance and that's what we expect over the next few weeks," he said, forecasting both WTI and Brent will fall toward $30 a barrel. Prices settled at $50.99 and $61.97, respectively, on Wednesday. He cited fresh American Petroleum Institute (API) data which showed U.S. crude  (go to article)

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14-year-old hacks connected cars with $15 worth of electronics parts

Yahoo -- A 14-year-old boy has stunned the automotive industry by showing how to hack into connected cars with apparent ease.

Armed with only $15 of simple electronics gear he bought from RadioShack, the boy was easily able to unlock and start a connected car. The make of vehicle that was breached has not been revealed, but it is said to be one of the larger brands.

The news has been described as a “pivot moment” in car security, and is of great concern to the automotive industry, which is investing heavily in designing and building connected and even self-driving cars. Such vehicles will inevitably become the norm in the coming years as people look for safer driving experiences – with their cars connected to local infrastructure such as traffic signals and emergency services – but security conce  (go to article)

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Rock slide injures 1 on U.S. Highway 6 in Clear Creek Canyon

Denver Post -- A rock slide on Tuesday damaged at least one vehicle, injured one person and forced the closure of U.S. Highway 6 through Clear Creek Canyon for about three hours, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.  (go to article)

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Gas prices are rising across Canada — and will likely jump further

Global News -- Canadian motorists across most of the country have dealt with frigid driving conditions for the past several weeks, and are now confronting another biting reality as a result: higher gas prices.

A brutally cold February has meaningfully dented gas production at U.S. refineries that make gasoline destined for Canada or influence the price for gas that is, experts said Tuesday.

Even as oil prices remain low at below $50 barrel (U.S.), wholesale North American petroleum prices have risen sharply since late January, filtering through to retail pump prices. Average Canadian retail gasoline prices bottomed out at 91.3 cents a litre on Jan. 20, according to Natural Resources Canada. Since then, they’ve climbed about 13 per cent (see chart below).  (go to article)

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Concrete falls from aging Gardiner Expressway, shatters windshield

Global News -- TORONTO – Chunks of concrete seem to have fallen from the Gardiner Expressway on Tuesday, damaging a person’s car, breaking the windshield and sending pieces of glass into the vehicle’s interior.Ali Siddiqi and his mother were stopped in separate vehicles at the intersection of Lower Spadina Ave. and Lake Shore Blvd. West Tuesday evening. Suddenly, Siddiqi heard a noise that he thought was a car accident.

“While we waited, I just heard a loud bang, and I thought two cars had actually got into an accident because it was substantially shocking, the noise that it made,” he said. “Then I looked back in the rear-view mirror and her windshield had all just come totally smashed in. The glass was everywhere.”
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Shell shelves plan for tar sands project in face of low oil prices

The Guardian -- Shell has shelved plans for a major new tar sands mine in Canada, the largest project yet to fall victim to low oil prices.

The company has withdrawn its application for the 200,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Pierre River project and will instead concentrate on boosting the profitability of its existing 255,000-bpd oil sands operations.

“The Pierre River Mine remains a very long-term opportunity for us, but it’s not currently a priority,” said Lorraine Mitchelmore, president of Shell’s Canada. “Our current focus is on making our heavy oil business as economically and environmentally competitive as possible.”

Oil sands extraction is controversial because of its high carbon footprint compared to conventional crude. Furthermore, a series of analyses have found that the world’s fossil fuel ...  (go to article)

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Car Owners Fed Up With Failing Auto Tech

NBCNEWS -- This is for the scores of vehicle owners who are tired of not being able to get their in-car communication systems to work: You are not alone in your frustration.

A new study found that in-car connectivity and communication systems are twice as likely to break down three years after a driver buys a new car than they are during the first three months they own that vehicle.

"Bluetooth and voice recognition systems not working are the top two problems vehicle owners are reporting after three years of having their cars," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. Automotive for J.D. Power. "They are tired of this technology not working in their cars."

J.D. Power's annual Vehicle Dependability Study, released Wednesday, found that 55 percent of drivers surveyed about their 3-year-old vehicl  (go to article)

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Oil rises above $62 after Saudi comments on demand

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Oil rose above $62 a barrel on Thursday as indications of a coming recovery in demand offset a further jump in U.S. crude stockpiles which underlined currently ample supplies.

Crude benchmarks in the U.S. and Europe posted their largest percentage gains in nearly two weeks on Wednesday, supported by remarks from Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, and a slightly stronger-than-expected Chinese manufacturing survey.

Brent crude LCOc1 rose 71 cents to $62.34 by 5.23 a.m. ET, after jumping more than 5 percent on Wednesday. U.S. crude CLc1 fell 40 cents to $50.59, following a more than 3 percent gain in the previous session.

"The comments yesterday, the change of tone from Saudi Arabia, is still an element," said Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix, of Brent's gain. "The  (go to article)

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Consumer Reports announces 'best of class' cars for 2015

GasBuddy Blog -- Subaru Legacy: best mid-sized sedanWhat's the best car, period? Consumer Reports says it's the Tesla Model S. But, given that it starts at about $70,000 and can top $105,000 if you want the longest-range battery pack and all-wheel drive... most of us will need to consider other options.  Fortunately, there are outstanding vehicles to choose from and some of them may even be affordable. Subaru rates very highly here, with Subaru vehicles ranking #1 in 3 of 11 categories. Are you thinking of buying any of the cars on the list? ...  (go to article)

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Putin threatens Ukraine with gas cutoff

FuelFix.com -- MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Russia will cut gas supplies to Ukraine if it fails to pay in advance for future deliveries.

Putin said that Ukraine’s latest payment would be good only for another three to four days, warning that Russia will have to turn off the tap if Ukraine doesn’t remit payment quickly.

He did not announce a deadline, but warned that a cutoff may disrupt supplies to Europe.

Russian and Ukrainian gas officials may meet in Brussels later this week to discuss the situation.

Following a bruising dispute over prices and debt that raised fears of supply disruptions in Europe, Russia and Ukraine signed a deal in October requiring Kiev to pay in advance for gas shipments.  (go to article)

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Brent drops toward $61 as U.S. crude stocks rise

Reuters -- SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Brent crude fell toward $61 per barrel on Thursday, after a sharp rally in the previous session, as bulging U.S. crude stockpiles offset indications of a recovery in demand.

Oil prices on both sides of the Atlantic recorded their largest percentage gains in nearly two weeks at Wednesday's settlement, boosted by improved views on global oil demand from the Saudi oil minister and better-than-expected China data.  (go to article)

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Registration fees for alternative-fuel cars may skyrocket

The Salt Lake Tribune -- All passenger cars could see at least a $10 hike in yearly registration fees under legislation on its way to the Senate. Fees for electric, hybrid and natural-gas vehicles, meanwhile, would skyrocket by as much as $70 annually.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 4-0 in support of SB231, which would generate an estimated $31 million or more a year for roads and clean-air projects.

Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, its sponsor, said registration fees for passenger vehicles now cost $43 a year. He is proposing to raise it at least to $53 for most vehicles.

But he said because alternative-fuel cars now largely escape gasoline taxes that help fund roads, he is proposing to greatly increase their registration fees — by up to 113 percent — to make up some of the difference.

Those fees  (go to article)

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Refinery strike and gas prices don’t mix… yet

WGNOabc -- A nationwide strike at U.S. oil refineries has reached Louisiana — impacting at least three plants and more than 850 workers. At the Shell Norco plant, the picket lines are up and there’s no sign of resolution.

United Steelworkers staff representative Brent Petit says he’s not sure how the plant is operating — or when there might be results from the negotiation table.

Tuesday afternoon, on Day 3 of the dispute, he said, “This is not about money. These are good-paying, well-paying jobs. But it doesn’t do any good to make a good salary if you’re not safe … You can’t work 500 or 600 thousand hours and not be tired.”

In an emailed statement to WGNO, Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said the USW is being “unreasonable” in demanding that Shell replace routine contractors with USW-...(VIDEO)  (go to article)

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Worse than salt, brine sprayed on roads will munch your car to pieces

Washington Post -- Your car — an investment second only to your home (unless you’ve paid college tuition) — is rotting out from under you.

You know why, and if you’re prudent you will line up at the carwash with everyone else after this weekend’s meteorological mayhem. But there’s something more insidious than the white salt caking your car from the window level on down.

Brine wants to eat through your car like a school of hungry piranhas, and more than 2 million gallons of the stuff has been sprayed on roads this winter in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District.

Are you just too sick of winter to read another story about it? Before you go, there are some things you’ve got to know about brine:

?The reasons you should love brine are the reasons your car hates it.
 (go to article)

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Police: 75-vehicle pileup on I-95 largest chain-reaction crash in Maine

Bangor Daily News -- CARMEL, Maine — A combination of snow, speed and a busy morning commute Wednesday led to what may be the largest chain-reaction crash in state history.

Interstate 95 was shut down to northbound travel between Newport and Bangor for more than four hours after 75 vehicles slid, spun, slammed into each other and skidded off the snow-slickened highway.

“I’m absolutely shocked we don’t have any fatalities,” Maine State Police Lt. Sean Hashey, Troop E commander, said during a 2:30 p.m. press conference in Bangor shortly after the highway was reopened to traffic.

He said Hollywood movie makers could not have created a more disturbing scene.

“We had a lot of broken bones,” Hashey said later. “We had vehicles, literally, wedged together.”

Vehicles were heavily damaged in the collisions that st  (go to article)

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Striking refinery workers march along Main Street

THE COURIER -- The nationwide refinery workers’ strike came to downtown Findlay and Marathon Petroleum Corp. on Tuesday as 150 protesters marched and shouted for safer working conditions.

Over 70 striking workers from Marathon’s refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, and over 50 strikers from the BP Toledo refinery were joined by other unionized workers in a rally and march along South Main Street. They braved subzero wind chills during the hour-long spectacle.

“Our numbers have been dwindling across the nation, and we just know this is a fight for safety,” said Dave Martin, a worker at Marathon’s Catlettsburg refinery and vice president of the United Steelworkers union local there. “It’s a fight for getting our refineries staffed like they should be, doing the things that should be done at our...(VIDEO)  (go to article)

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Trucker Ran for Life After Stranding Truck on Tracks

ABC News -- Oxnard, CA--A driver who abandoned his pickup truck on railroad tracks before a fiery crash with a commuter train made repeated attempts to get the vehicle off the rails and then ran for his life as the train approached. The crossing has been the site of many crashes.

Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez accidentally drove onto the tracks and made the situation worse by continuing forward in an attempt to get enough speed to get his wide pickup over the rails, attorney Ron Bamieh said. When that effort failed, he tried to push the truck and then fled before the impact.

Police said Ramirez was trying to turn right at an intersection just beyond the crossing, but he made the turn too soon, drove onto the tracks before the crossing arms came down and got stuck.

Other drivers have done the same  (go to article)

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http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/24-Million-in-Gas-Theft-by-Government-Workers-Reported-S

NBC Washington -- Federal workers have illegally purchased more than $2.4 million worth of gasoline since 2010 by swiping taxpayer-funded government fleet cards for gas they used in their personal cars.

A review of federal audits and court records by the News4 I-Team found about 260 cases of gas theft by government workers nationwide in the past five years, including several cases in the Washington, D.C.-area. Taxpayers have been fleeced in the process.

The U.S. General Services Administration, which oversees a federal government fleet of 150,000 automobiles, has distributed 590,385 gasoline purchase cards to federal employees and some D.C. municipal employees. In some of the cases reviewed by the News4 I-Team, low-ranking workers swiped their fleet cards, filled the tank of their personal cars or cars be  (go to article)

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After a Veto, Keystone Is Far From Dead

NBC News -- President Barack Obama might have vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline, but the fight over the pipeline is far from over.

House Speaker John Boehner said as much in a video message after Monday's veto: "All I want to say is the fight's not over."

Congressional Action

Republicans, who control both the House and the Senate, have the option of taking up the legislation again to override the president's veto. But it's unlikely Congress could find the two-thirds majority it needs, especially in the Senate where it would need 67 votes. It passed the bill with the support of 62 last month.

But the legislative process is not the only path to Keystone. And while the political battle might go on, the realities are that that path to Keystone through Congress is all but dead for now.

 (go to article)

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HollyFrontier expects Cushing crude storage to be full in eight to 10 weeks

Platts -- HollyFrontier expects crude oil storage tanks in Cushing, Oklahoma, to reach capacity in eight to 10 weeks as flows into the oil hub are set increase by about 4-6 million barrels/week, a company executive said Wednesday.

In the week that ended February 20, flows into Cushing storage totaled 2.4 million barrels, according to Energy Information Administration data released Wednesday.

Speaking during the company's fourth-quarter 2014 earnings webcast, CEO Mike Jennings said there is a rush to fill up storage tanks in Cushing as a result of the contango market structure and a heavier-than-normal refinery turnaround season.

"We believe new inbound pipeline capacity, current storage economics and upcoming refinery maintenance activity should continue to drive Cushing inventories higher and sp  (go to article)

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U.S. Oil Inventories Surge for Seventh Week

Bloomberg -- Crude oil in storage in the U.S. jumped 2 percent, to 434 million barrels, according to EIA weekly data released today, Feb. 25. The increase of 8.43 million barrels was more than double the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts and was the biggest increase in a month.

U.S. oil storage is bursting at the seams amid a global glut of supply that has driven prices down by half since last summer. U.S. inventories remain at their highest levels in at least 80 years, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence
 (go to article)

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