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State of Michigan roads goes from poor to terrible

Detroit Free Press -- This won't surprise you: Our roads are bad.

Rim-bending, frame-twisting, teeth-rattling bad.

And they are only getting worse. Much worse. Declining at a faster rate than just five years ago. According to 2014 data from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council, only 17% of the state's roads are considered to be in good shape, 45% are in fair condition and 38% were considered to be in poor shape.

The reasons are myriad: a recent spate of historically harsh winters; a load weight limit for heavy trucks that is twice as high as any other state in the nation; the fact that we spend less per mile on road repairs than our neighboring states; the state doesn't always do an adequate job of following up on road construction warranty work, according to a recent state auditor general  (go to article)

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A $6 commute with Wi-Fi, USB ports, and coconut water

Ars Technica -- Leap is betting that riders are willing to pay nearly three times what a ride on a local Muni bus costs, and a fair bit less than what a taxi (or its newer cousins, Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar) would charge for a similar journey. What makes it worth that price? Free Wi-Fi, comfortable seats (limited to just 27, no standing passengers), USB ports, plus food and drinks.  (go to article)

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Oil analysts haven’t been this divided in 8 years: What’s an investor to do?

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

That sudden divergence highlights a growing trend: Energy analysts are the most divided in at least 8 years on the direction of Brent, the global benchmark. Forecasters failed to predict the plunge that cut oil prices by more than half after the U.S. shale boom boosted output to a three-decade high. OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, relinquished its traditional role adjusting production to moderate price swings in an effort to maintain market share.

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

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Exxon unit asks for exception to North Dakota gas flare rule

The San Antonio -- A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. is asking state regulators to grant an exception to the amount of natural gas companies are permitted to burn off at 140 of its oil wells in Dunn and McKenzie counties.

The state's Oil and Gas Division heard the request from XTO Energy this week in which the company argues it has nowhere to take its gas. This is because OneOK, a gas-processing company, couldn't secure an easement agreement and build a 20-mile pipeline expansion. OneOK said the pipeline would have moved 40 million cubic feet per day to their Garden Creek gas plant in McKenzie County.

The request will now be forwarded to the state Industrial Commission, which earlier this week more clearly defined gas-capture rules, imposing penalties for noncompliance and establishing flexibility to...  (go to article)

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Exports helping Nebraska's ethanol industry to grow

The Independent -- Nebraska’s 2 billion-gallon-a-year ethanol industry is growing in international stature.

Last year Nebraska’s ethanol agribusiness processed 657 million bushels of corn last year. While that corn made more than 2 billion gallons of ethanol, it also produced 18 pounds of distillers grain per bushel of corn.
Distillers grains are a cereal byproduct of the distillation process. The byproduct has established itself not only as an important source of livestock feed, but a growing export product, along with ethanol itself, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

And 2014 was a record export year for distillers grains and ethanol.

According to the RFA, the U.S. ethanol industry produced 14.3 billion gallons in 2014 — a 7.4 percent increase over the previous year.

At the end of  (go to article)

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With Proposal 1, more fuel tax money will go to roads

Detroit Free Press -- Getting more road-repair bang for the fuel tax buck is a central thrust of Proposal 1, which goes to voters May 5.

On a $3 gallon of gas, motorists pay close to 18 cents in state sales tax, which doesn't get spent on roads.

If Proposal 1 passes, sales tax would no longer be applied to fuel sales. It would be replaced with a higher fuel tax, which would get spent predominantly on roads.

Bills that would be triggered into law if the proposal passes would remove the 19-cent-per-gallon tax on regular fuel and the 15-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel and replace both with a single, percentage-based fuel tax that could never drop below 41.7 cents per gallon and would increase with inflation.

Removal of the sales tax means the impact of that hefty rise in the fuel tax will be significantly s  (go to article)

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BMW X5 xDrive40e — BMW’s New Plug-In Hybrid SUV — Nearly Here

CleanTechnica -- BMW’s new production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) — now known as the BMW X5 xDrive40e — is getting closer and closer to hitting the market, and the main specs are now publicly available. And these specs are certainly worth taking a look at.

The X5 PHEV possesses a total system output of 313 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque — this is split between 245 horsepower and 258 lbs-feet of torque provided by the 2.0 liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, and 113 horses and 184 lbs-ft provided by the electric motor integrated in the 8-speed Steptronic transmission.  (go to article)

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Duke Energy CEO Loses $600K In Pay Over Coal Ash Pollution

AP -- Duke Energy Corp. CEO Lynn Good saw her pay docked about $600,000 in the aftermath of last year's massive spill of collected coal ash that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals.

A portion of Good's $8.3 million compensation was reduced 35 percent in 2014 compensation, according to a proxy statement released this week ahead of the company's annual shareholder meeting in May. The compensation of four other top executives that is linked to short-term incentives was also reduced 35 percent.

Directors of the country's largest electric company said the executives were docked because the spill will cost Duke Energy $192 million in cleanup, legal fees, and fines to settle a pending criminal case involving Clean Water Act violations.

 (go to article)

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Obama Pushing Federal Agencies To Buy More Plug-In Cars

Gas 2 -- Since the beginning of Obama’s first term as President, the former Illinois senator has been pushing for more alternative fuel and plug-in cars. In pursuit of that goal, Obama has pushed initiatives like the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (AVTM) that loaned money to Tesla Motors, and now the President is pushing Federal agencies to buy more plug-in cars.

The Detroit News reports that the Obama administration wants federal agencies to make plug-in hybrids and EVs 20% of their fleet purchases by 2020, and 50% by 2025. This isn’t the first time Obama has pushed efficient vehicles onto federal fleets, but this time he is signing an executive order to make it happen. That means the next time you see a DEA or FBI vehicle, there’s a good chance it could be more efficient than your  (go to article)

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China is home to the world’s first hydrogen fuel tram

Hydrogen Fuel News -- New tram uses hydrogen fuel cell to power itself

The world’s first hydrogen-powered tram has been put into service in China. The tram is located in the Shandong Province and will be operated by Sifang Co., a subsidiary of China South Rail Corporation. Liang Jianying, chief engineer of Sifang Co., notes that the tram is unique, making China the only country in the world that has a tramcar that is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell.

Fuel cells continue to gain traction in the global transportation sector

The fuel cell that the tram uses consumes hydrogen in order to produce electrical power. These energy systems have become quite popular in the transportation sector, where automakers are using them to develop new vehicles that produce no harmful emissions. Public transit organizations  (go to article)

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LA light rail train hits car, partially derails; 21 hurt

Associated Press -- A light rail train slammed into a car at a crossing in front of the University of Southern California on Saturday, seriously injuring the driver and the train's operator. Nineteen passengers on the train suffered lesser injuries.

The Metro Expo Line train was heading east toward downtown shortly before 11 a.m. when authorities said it appeared the car's driver didn't see it and tried to make a left turn across the tracks from a major thoroughfare.

The car, a silver Hyundai, was all but demolished. The first two of the train's four cars slightly derailed, but they remained upright.
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10 Most Annoying Car Features

Yahoo! Autos -- Here are 10 of the most annoying features, ranging from economy cars to luxury saloons.

1. Touch-Sensitive Controls
2. Touch-Screen-Dependent Controls
3. Stereo Tuning Buttons Instead of Knobs
4. Navigation Systems That Lock Out Passengers
5. Giant Key Fobs
6. Square Cupholders
7. Auto Stop-Start
8. Voice-Controlled Systems
9. Car Alarms
10. Small Side Mirrors  (go to article)

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1-Megawatt Solar Hybrid Plant Installed In Just 7 days

CleanTechnica -- A time-lapse video recording of the swift installation of a 1-megawatt redeployable solar-diesel hybrid power plant turns a week into seconds, highlighting the innovative modular technology.

Laing O’Rourke developed the innovative modular technology. RenewEconomy reports that it was delivered, set up, unpacked, and fully operational within seven days.

Presently in full operation, RenewEconomy reports that the solar power plant was unveiled just last week in Combabula, regional Queensland. It is the first of its kind in the world. The pilot-scale plant is the product of an ARENA-backed project. ARENA intends to make it more affordable and more easily accomplished to provide remote Australian communities and industrial sites with off-grid renewable energy generation.  (go to article)

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It Turns Out “Green” Cars Aren’t So “Green” After All

The Federalist Papers -- “While the CO2 and other gas exhaust is about even between that of a power plant or the gas driven car, the overall heat getting wasted in the air is almost twice as high for the electric driven car than for the fuel powered vehicle,” Baumann writes. “Remember — any energy not used mechanically, automatically converts into heat going into the atmosphere.  (go to article)

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Utah taxpayers will pay millions more in gas taxes

Deseret News -- Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday signed HB362, which raises fuel taxes by $24.9 million this summer and $76 million next year for transportation projects, and SB97, which increases the state property tax by $75 million for education.

Utahns will be paying 5 cents more per gallon at the pump starting July 1.  (go to article)

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Hot Fuel Settlements Cause Division Among Convenience Retailers

Convenience Store News -- KANSAS CITY, Kan. — 7-Eleven Inc. and Sheetz Inc. are among several retailers objecting in Kansas federal court to proposed settlements in "hot fuel" cases.

On Jan. 26, a Kansas federal court gave preliminary approval to settlements with 28 defendants — including BP Products North America Inc., Casey's General Stores Inc., ConocoPhillips Co., Chevron USA Inc., E-Z Mart Stores Inc., ExxonMobil Corp., Flash Market Inc., Shell Oil Products US, Thorntons Inc., Motiva Enterprises LLC, Sinclair Oil Corp. and Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores — regarding a consumer class-action lawsuit concerning how gasoline and diesel fuel are sold at retail gas stations.

The issue behind "hot fuel" refers to when diesel and gasoline are sold warmer than the standard 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  (go to article)

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Why Oil Could Be Facing A 20-Year Bear Market

Forbes -- In the past, the usual “oil crisis” was caused by self-serving news items of an oil shortage, causing soaring prices. Just 2-3 years ago, the fear mongers said that the world had “seen peak oil,” meaning that oil production would be on a long term decline and there would be big shortages. Instead, oil production is now at a high

The current crisis is one of plunging oil prices and a glut as far as the eye can see.

Oil production, after prices have fallen over 60%, is at a new high. As we predicted late last year, oil producers are making up for plummeting income by pumping even more. Rig counts in production are plunging, but these are from the low production wells. The high producers are still pumping away. In fact, the latest rig count even shows that there is little additional reducti  (go to article)

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Tolls would spike traffic on secondary roads, officials fear

The News-Times -- Danbury-area civic and political leaders are all but unanimous in opposition to the idea of reintroducing border tolls in Connecticut, citing among other reasons the inconvenience and expense to commuters.

But some commuters are taking the possibility of tolls in stride, knowing there are many ways of avoiding them if the plan comes to fruition.
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MTA's toll-lane project may be a victim of its own success

LA Times -- But two years later, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority project is on the cusp of becoming a victim of its own success: So many drivers now steer into the Harbor Freeway's northbound toll lanes to escape morning traffic jams that the paid route is slowing down too. Over the course of a year, even as the per-mile toll crept toward the maximum, traffic in the paid lanes increased by almost 20% and speeds began to slow, officials say.  (go to article)

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Former U.S. Energy Official: Texas Needn't Fret Over Climate Rules

The Texas Tribune -- During this legislative session, Texas lawmakers are debating several proposals with major implications for the state’s power grid. So the Tribune asked an expert to weigh in.

Jon Wellinghoff, who served as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from 2009 to 2013, sat down with the Tribune this week at the Energy Thought Summit in Austin.

Wellinghoff is now an attorney with the firm Stoel Rives. He consults on energy policy internationally and represents a variety of companies, including those dealing in renewable energy, data analytics and energy storage. He talked with the Tribune about what looming federal climate regulations mean for Texas, whether the state should link its grid to others and how to encourage more Texans to incentivize energy conservation.

The f  (go to article)

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Mexico signs second pipeline deal to import Eagle Ford natural gas

San Antonio Business Journal -- Mexico's national oil company PEMEX has signed a deal with U.S.-based investment firms BlackRock and First Reserve to begin the second phase of a pipeline that will bring natural gas from the Eagle Ford shale to cities hundreds of miles south of the border.

PEMEX CEO Emilio Lozoya-Austin signed the deal with representatives from both companies in Mexico City on Thursday.

Under the 25-year deal, BlackRock is investing $4.6 billion and First Reserve is investing $30 million in the Los Ramones II natural gas pipeline, earning them a combined 45 percent control of the ambitious energy project.

The 462-mile pipeline is part of Mexico's historic energy reforms and will run from Los Ramones, Nuevo Leon to the State of Guanajuato where a number of maquiladoras and automobile factories will use  (go to article)

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Mexico Pledges to Cut Emissions 25% in Climate-Change Milestone

Bloomberg -- (Bloomberg) -- Mexico has become the first developing nation to formally promise to cut its global-warming pollution, a potential milestone in efforts to reach a worldwide agreement on tackling climate change.

Mexico expects greenhouse-gas emissions to peak by 2026 and then decline, Environment Minister Juan Jose Guerra Abud said at a news conference in Mexico City Friday. The nation has pledged to curb the growth of pollutants 25 percent from its current trajectory by 2030.

The United Nations is encouraging more than 190 countries to submit by March 31 formal plans detailing how they will curb greenhouse-gas emissions. These documents are a key step leading up to a December meeting in Paris where negotiators expect to complete a global climate-change agreement,  (go to article)

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End of speeding tickets

Cars Tecnica -- Called the Intelligent Speed Limiter, the new feature is a combination of two nascent automotive technologies: adjustable speed limiters and traffic sign recognition. An adjustable speed limiter might sound like cruise control, but it's slightly different: cruise control keeps your speed constant, while an adjustable speed limiter stops the throttle from delivering more fuel to the engine once you reach the desired speed.

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Suspected Tulsa Pickup Thief Captured After Driving By Victim's House

Oklahoma's Own NewsOn6 -- A man who stole a pickup outside a Tulsa gas station was captured after his victim's wife spotted the stolen vehicle.

Tulsa police took a man into custody following a pursuit Saturday morning in west Tulsa.

The victim told News On 6 he was inside a Fiesta Mart at 1500 North Peoria and came back out to find his pickup stolen. Surveillance video showed which direction the pickup went, and Tulsa police began the search.
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‘Get them off rails now,’ Sen. Cantwell says of some oil tank cars

Curtis Tate | McClatchy and Tribune Newspapers -- WASHINGTON — Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced legislation Wednesday that would immediately ban the least sturdy tank cars from carrying crude oil after a series of recent fiery train derailments.

The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to regulate the volatility of crude oil transported by rail, particularly oil extracted from shale formations in North Dakota’s Bakken region.

 (go to article)

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Frac sand exec to slumping oil producers: You’re not going to drill your way out of this

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- HOUSTON – The message that a scientific approach should trump the all-out wildcatting of the fading shale boom is echoing through more corridors of the energy industry. But oil producers may not want to hear it.  (go to article)

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Mercedes-Benz to launch new pickup truck

The Globe & Mail -- German car maker Mercedes-Benz plans to launch a mid-sized pickup truck, expanding its premium brand into a lower-priced bracket in a bid to narrow the sales gap with arch rival BMW.

Pickup trucks have gained popularity in recent months as gasoline prices eased, with sales of such models accounting for 90 per cent of global pretax margins at General Motors and Ford, according to analysts.  (go to article)

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Testing of Software Adds to Urgency in Race for Driverless Cars

NY Times -- In the race to build a self-driving car, German automakers are hitting a road block in their efforts to test vehicles so complex they need more than 10 times the amount of software found in a fighter jet.  (go to article)

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Alberta’s oil drillers brace for traditional spring slowdown to stretch until next fall — or longer

Postmedia News -- With world oil prices stubbornly stuck at around $50, Western Canada’s weather-related spring drilling slowdown could easily last until next fall — or longer — experts said Thursday.

The number of rigs working in Western Canada has fallen to 109 out of a fleet of 761 for a utilization rate of 14%, compared with 292 rigs working from a fleet of 812 for a 36% activity rate in the same week last year, according to a count published Monday by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

The annual second-quarter slump caused by weight restrictions on melting roads started earlier, has cut deeper and will last longer this year, said Dana Benner, head of oilfield services research at AltaCorp Capital. He predicts “downbeat” Calgary Stampede parties in July.

“I think the summer wi  (go to article)

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AUTO SAFETY: Total recall not all there is to car repair

The Press-Enterprise -- Vehicle recall notices are a part of American consumers’ lives – there were 63.7 million issued last year, ranging from General Motors’ 26.8 million that included faulty ignition switch replacements, to Innovative Trailer Design Industries’ one recall for one vehicle.

But there are other car problems that may not reach the level of the mandated recalls for safety issues, but still need immediate attention.
 (go to article)

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PetroChina mulls Canadian oilsands asset swap to ride out low oil

Bloomberg News -- PetroChina Co. said it’s in talks with international oil companies about swapping assets in North America to help it ride out the slump in crude prices.

China’s biggest oil and gas company said the negotiations are mostly focused on the oilsands in Canada, which is the world’s fifth-largest producer albeit at a relatively high cost.

The rationale is that swapping assets would be more efficient than outright sales, which, while oil prices are low, would “cause losses for international oil companies,” Vice-Chairman Wang Dongjin said in Hong Kong Thursday at the company’s earnings briefing. He didn’t name the companies that PetroChina is talking to.

“We may try asset swaps for our North America assets, mostly in Canada, as the low crude environment makes it hard to find willing buyers,” sa  (go to article)

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CHP OFFICER RESCUES WOMAN PASSED OUT IN MOVING CAR

abc7.com -- A California Highway Patrol officer smashed the window of a moving car to rescue a driver passed out behind the wheel on a San Diego freeway.

Officers found Amber Morgan, 25, stopped on the 805 Freeway near Clairemont Mesa Boulevard just before 1 a.m. Her engine was running, her windows were up and the doors were locked.

An officer woke Morgan by tapping on her window, but the car began rolling down the freeway. That's when he jumped into action and smashed the window on the passenger side.

After breaking the glass, he reached in through the window to unlock the passenger door and quickly pulled the emergency brake to stop the vehicle.  (go to article)

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Train hits truck carrying $300K McLaren

wokv.com -- ORANGE PARK, Fla. — A train plowed through a tractor trailer, which was carrying a $300,000 sports car, stalled on train tracks Friday morning.

Truck driver Ryan O. Fung, 40, was able to get out of his truck in time to avoid getting hit by the train, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

No one was injured in the crash, authorities say.

The mini tractor trailer was carrying a $300,000 McLaren which was damaged in the crash. Dr. Jorg Bober is the car owner.

"The company came by to pick up the McLaren for regular work, for warranty work. And I guess he got stuck on the train tracks," said Dr. Bober.

The doctor found out about the crash from one of his nurses.  (go to article)

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Atlanta and Detroit among the top 10 cities for electric vehicles?

GasBuddy Blog -- After more than four years of modern electric-car sales, it's clear that some areas are more favorable for plug-ins than other, according to Green Car Reports. From local incentives for electric vehicle (EV) purchasers to widely available charging infrastructure, or just a cultural climate more attuned to “green car” ownership, some parts of the United States have embraced EVs more than others. EV network operator ChargePoint has compiled a list of the top 10 U.S. cities for electric cars, based on the number of vehicles registered and available charging stations. (The company only counts stations on its own network, however, and accounts for population differences when comparing the number of car registrations.) While the West Coast still dominates the list, cities like Atlanta, Austin, Denver and Detroit prove that EVs aren’t just for “coasters.” ...  (go to article)

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UPDATE 10-Oil dives 5 pct as worries about Iran talks trump Yemen

REUTERS -- * Traders weigh possibility of Iran nuclear deal by next week

* Tehran eager to recover oil market share lost due to sanctions

* Oil prices down on day but up for second straight week (New throughout, updates prices and market activity with further decline after settlement)

Oil tumbled 5 percent on Friday, erasing the previous session's gains, as Yemen's conflict looked less likely to disrupt Middle East crude shipments and investors turned their focus to talks for a potential Iran nuclear deal that could put more supply on the market.

Oil prices still notched their second straight weekly gain, boosted by the dollar's weakness in recent sessions. U.S. crude had its biggest weekly gain in more than a month.

U.S. crude and global benchmark Brent oil spent most of the session in a...  (go to article)

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A veteran commuter puzzles over Virginia’s I-66 plan

Washington Post -- For me, this summer would mark 50 years of commuting on Washington highways, had I not retired a year ago. I’m so happy to hear that by 2040, at the time I would have 75 years of this joyful experience, the powers that be might widen Interstate 66 somewhat inside the Capital Beltway.
I can’t easily think of any major city where a main highway inbound constricts like I-66 does inside the Beltway. Contrast it even to Interstate 395 (Shirley Highway to us old guys), which is a joy by comparison and much improved since I commuted to summer jobs when LBJ was president. Maybe this will improve by 2040. One can hope.

Virginia’s plan for I-66 is the hottest topic in local highway travel. But whoa — let’s pause the march of progress to consider the changes experienced by a man who spent nearly hal  (go to article)

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Computers help Chevy Trax small SUV ace crash tests

Detroit Free Press -- The little Chevy Trax SUV just aced two important safety tests, thanks largely to super computers that allow faster and more accurate simulations of crashes.

The Trax, which is nearly 20 inches shorter than a Chevrolet Equinox SUV, rated five stars in government crash tests and got the coveted "top safety pick" status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Results like that can help a new vehicle attract buyers. The Trax seems to be doing that. Since sales began in December, Chevrolet says 47% of buyers are new to Chevy, 58% are women and 19% are younger than 35.

The Trax is one of the first entries into the subcompact SUV segment, which is poised to take off this year as other new models hit the road. The Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3 will all compete...  (go to article)

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Alberta releases new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds

Canadian Press - EDMONTON -- The Alberta government has released a new plan for managing oilsands tailings ponds that it says will encourage companies to generate less of the toxic waste water and clean it up sooner.

Environment Minister Kyle Fawcett says operators will have clear guidelines on how big their tailings ponds can be during mine operations and how large they will be allowed to be when it closes. Those rules will be backed up by possible financial penalties, he said.

That combination of oversight and enforcement over the life of the mine will force companies to keep pushing for the technological breakthrough on tailings cleanup that has so far remained elusive, said Fawcett.

“Technology unlocked the oilsands,” he said. “It will be key to finding the long-term, effective solutions to tailings ponds manag  (go to article)

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US drillers are fighting back against OPEC, low oil prices

Augusta Chronicle -- OPEC and lower global oil prices have delivered a one-two punch to drillers in North Dakota and Texas who brought the U.S. one of the biggest booms in the history of the global oil industry.

Now they are fighting back.

Companies are leaning on new techniques and technology to get more oil out of every well they drill and are cutting costs in an effort to keep U.S. oil competitive with much lower-cost oil flowing out of the Middle East, Russia and elsewhere.

“Everybody gets a little more imaginative, because they need to,” says Hans-Christian Freitag, the vice president of technology for the drilling services company Baker Hughes.

Spurred by rising global oil prices, U.S. drillers learned to tap crude trapped in shale starting in the middle of the last decade and brought about a surpris  (go to article)

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Savanna Energy Services Corp eliminates dividend, cuts staff, trims salaries

Financial Post - CALGARY -- Faced with a drop in oilfield activity levels, heavily indebted Savanna Energy Services is eliminating its dividend, laying off 200 people, rolling back salaries and closing field offices to survive the oil price collapse.

“We are structuring the company to prepare us to operate in a low commodity price environment as efficiently as possible,” Dwayne LaMontagne, interim president and CEO of the Calgary-based drilling company, said in an email Friday.

Mr. LaMontagne, who took over Feb 4 as interim CEO after the abrupt departure of Savanna’s previous CEO, confirmed that “just over” 200 salaried employees, 38% of those who don’t work on rigs, had been laid off and the company’s remaining employees had taken an average 7% pay cut.

He added that the company is looking at selling real estate  (go to article)

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Enbridge Energy doesn't see oil slowdown affecting Minnesota pipeline projects

Minneapolis StarTribune -- Even as the U.S. oil industry slashes investment, pipeline operator Enbridge Energy isn’t paring back its record five-year $44 billion building program that includes major projects in Minnesota, the company’s CEO Al Monaco said Friday.

Monaco said in an interview that the 50 percent drop in crude oil prices since June “is very dire” for the industry, but hasn’t changed the economics of pipelines like Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper project to deliver North Dakota oil across northern Minnesota to a terminal and other pipelines in Superior, Wis.

“The amount of production that is coming on to our system and the amount of production we forecast from the oil sands or the Bakken is actually well in excess of the capacity we have on our system,” said Monaco, whose company operates the world’s lon  (go to article)

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US Gulf Coast premium gasoline falls 17.69 cents/gal

Platts -- Gulf Coast premium gasoline fell 17.69 cents Friday on refiner selling, a lack of incentive to blend gasoline and pressure from dips in both lower-octane gasoline and the NYMEX RBOB contract.

93-octane gasoline saw its biggest one-day drop since a 25-cent fall on December 22, with the earlier decline tied to a rush to shed gasoline to avoid tax liability.

Phillips 66 drove the market lower Friday for premium at 9 RVP (V2). It improved an offer from 1 cent over futures to 4.5 cents under futures, where Noble and Trafigura agreed to buy 25,000 barrels each.

A selloff of cash-market RBOB has left US refiners with no incentive to blend premium gasoline, a US products trader said. Since Monday, the differential for RBOB at 7.8 RVP (F1) has fallen from 3 cents over the April futures contract  (go to article)

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I-35 Reopens After Fiery 18-Wheeler Crash Kills 1, Injures 3

KWTX -- Interstate 35 northbound and southbound lanes are fully open, the Texas Department of Transportation said early Friday morning.

The highway was closed for almost 18 hours after a fiery crash Thursday.

One person was killed and three others were injured when an 18-wheeler smashed into a highway bridge Thursday morning in Salado, dislodging two beams, which fell onto the highway hitting several vehicles and closing the highway in both directions.

Clark Davis, a 32-year-old Arlington man who was driving a pickup truck on which the beams fell died at the scene.

Davis leaves behind a 7-year-old daughter and girlfriend.

The injured victims were taken to Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple with what authorities said were non-life-threatening injuries, but further details weren’t immediat  (go to article)

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Millennials Claim They're Better Car Shoppers than Their Parents

GasBuddy Blog -- When it comes to car shopping, it's not uncommon for young adults to turn to their parents for experienced tips and advice. But a new study from car buying platform Edmunds.com suggests that the younger, tech-savvy generation is quickly becoming a more educated and self-sufficient group of buyers due to their prolific use of mobile devices during the car shopping process.According to the study commissioned by Edmunds in early 2015, 73 percent of Millennials (age 18-34) said that they believe they are savvier car buyers than their parents. More than half of Millennial respondents also said they actively advise friends and family on the car buying process, compared to 37 percent of older Americans. ...  (go to article)

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How American frackers plan to beat OPEC

Yahoo Finance -- Gary Evans, CEO of Houston-based energy firm Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR), has a blunt message for OPEC oil ministers hoping to force down prices and drive American competitors out of business.  (go to article)

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US Labor Dept. Presses Gas Stations in N.J. To Pay Employees Overtime As Required

CBS -- Federal labor officials in New Jersey have announced the results of a five-year crackdown on gas station owners who have not paid their employees properly.

According to the feds, more than 1,000 attendants at both major branded gas stations and independents were due a total of $5.5 million in overtime that was not paid.
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Energy Department study: Shale won’t last, Arctic drilling needed now

AP -- The U.S. should immediately begin a push to exploit its enormous trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska, or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil in the future, an Energy Department advisory council says in a study to be released Friday.

The U.S. has drastically cut imports and transformed itself into the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the government predicts that the shale boom won’t last much beyond the next decade.

In order for the U.S. to keep domestic production high and imports low, oil companies should start probing the Artic now because it takes 10 to 30 years of preparation and drilling to bring oil to market, according to a draft of the study’s executive summary obtained by the Associated Press.
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Tesoro refinery plans $390M expansion as oil train regulations loom

Puget Sound Business Journal -- The six-week steelworkers strike has come to an end and now Tesoro Corp. is turning its attention to $390 million in planned upgrades at its Anacortes oil refinery, partly intended to improve its export capabilities.

But the company at the same time is facing deepening scrutiny of its use of oil-carrying rail cars, including recently proposed federal legislation sponsored by both of Washington state's senators after a series of derailments and explosions across North America.

Tesoro, which is based in San Antonio, Texas and generated $40.6 billion in revenue last year, is planning two projects at the plant.

The Anacortes facility refines crude oil from the Alaska North Slope, and increasingly, from the Bakken oil fields in the Dakotas.

One is a $300 million project to build a facility  (go to article)

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Buckle up! Oil 'could fall to $30' say trading pros

CNBC -- Oil prices continued their downward spiral Friday, falling more than $1, after a short-lived rally of around 5 percent the previous day, as concerns of a disruption to supplies in the Middle East appeared to ease. Against this backdrop, hedge fund managers said the oil price would remain volatile and could even fall as low as $30.  (go to article)

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$60 crude is 'definitely' in the cards: BNP Paribas

CNBC -- Crude oil has surged more than 15 percent from its low last week, and according to one technical-minded trader, the charts are setting up for an even bigger rally.

"I think we are in the process of creating a floor," Darren Wolfberg, head of U.S. cash equity trading at BNP Paribas, said on CNBC.com's "Futures Now" on Thursday. "I don't think we're going to see new lows here."
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North American Railroads Caught by Speed of Crude-Oil Collapse

Bloomberg -- The slowdown that North American railroad companies had been bracing for in crude oil shipments has turned into a rout, with volumes falling faster than executives had predicted.

With energy companies scaling back drilling after prices for the commodity fell about 50 percent since July, industry executives and analysts anticipated that demand for hauling crude and extraction materials such as frac sand and pipes would slow after a four-year surge. They didn’t expect it to slow this much this fast.

“The impact is occurring more quickly than the rails originally projected to investors,” said Matt Troy, an analyst with Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York. “The consensus view was that very high double-digit growth would moderate to low double digits, and ...  (go to article)

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