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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Death by solar farms: 71 species of birds killed, ‘entire food chains’ disrupted

Washington Times -- A new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finds that solar facilities in California are acting like “mega traps” that kill and injure birds. As a result, “entire food chains” are being disrupted.

USFWS’s National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory studied three solar farms in Southern California: Desert Sunlight, Genesis Solar and Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). Two-hundred and thirty-three different birds from 71 species were found over the course of a two-year study.

Hummingbirds, swifts, swallows, doves, hawks, finches, warblers and owls were just some dead birds found at the solar facilities’ “equal opportunity” mortality hazards.

The study found that besides the intense heat, birds may be mistaking large solar panels for bodies of water. The  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Hilarious Car Dealership Outwitting Labor Union Tactics

TheBlaze -- Subaru of Wichita couldn’t help but notice that a union banner was looking a little lonely outside the dealership, so last month the folks in the lot figured they would keep the union sign company and make things more interesting.

That apparently didn’t sit well with Carpenters Local 201, which repositioned its sign — so Subaru simply enacted some creative editing, adding a comma, and they’re back on top (Click on Full Story to see signs)  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Rail Transport of Crude Oil Increases as Pipeline Falls Short

NY Times -- In December, a new terminal in the Port of Beaumont welcomed its first customer: a train carrying 43,000 barrels of crude oil from Colorado. Workers at the terminal, the Jefferson Transload Railport, transferred the crude to a barge, which traveled down the Neches River to a nearby refinery.

As shale fields scattered across the Midwest and West Texas produce millions of barrels of crude oil, energy companies are finding the national pipeline network insufficient to transport their output. Railroads are increasingly picking up the slack, and Jefferson Energy Companies, based in The Woodlands, is one of several companies investing millions of dollars to help transport crude by rail, a business that was nearly nonexistent just five years ago.

"We never thought we competed with pipeline unti  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

NASCAR to Shorten Races: Surging Gas Prices Spur Changes

Glossy News -- NASCAR officials declared today that due to the current increase in gasoline prices, several races later this season will be shortened to save costs.
According to the report issued, the money saving initiative will prevent a rise in ticket prices and allow the typical NASCAR fan to continue spending large amounts of cash they don’t have on NASCAR apparel they don’t need.
Crude oil has topped one hundred dollars a barrel this year and nationwide gas price averages sit above $3.60 a gallon. NASCAR stock cars get approximately two miles per gallon.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Automotive safety at any cost? Sounds good, but it's not true

Automotive News -- WASHINGTON -- The history of General Motors' ignition-switch fiasco is still fuzzy, but we know this: GM had the chance to replace a fatally flawed switch in the Chevy Cobalt with a part that cost less then $1 and did not do it.

CEO Mary Barra, testifying on Capitol Hill this month, called that "very disturbing." She diagnosed it as the flawed reasoning of Old GM, insisting that never again would such a paltry sum stand in the way of safety.

So Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., the chairman of a U.S. House oversight panel, asked the natural question: Where does the New GM strike the balance between cost and safety?

"We don't," Barra replied. Later, when asked a similar question, she elaborated: "It's not acceptable to have a cost put on a safety issue."

It sounded good. It was just what GM's ...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fresno hotel installs electric vehicle charging station -- FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno hotel now has a new green feature for electric vehicles.

It's a "green" sign of the time. A new electric vehicle charging station was installed at Best Western Plus near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

"We're basically the first hotel in the San Joaquin Valley to have the EV chargers," said Maria Freitas. "We believe that we can possibly start a trend here in the city of Fresno."

Freitas with Best Western says for a small fee, local residents can use the station for some power, and travelers can also catch a charge when visiting or passing through.

"We're hoping to draw people that are coming to the San Joaquin Valley," said Freitas.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Scientists discover how to make ethanol using just water and CO2 -- Scientists at Stanford University in the state of California say they’ve developed a procedure for making potent liquid ethanol that doesn’t rely on corn or any other crops traditionally involved in the process.

The researchers disclosed their discovery in the latest online edition of the journal Nature, and in it they say that in less than three years’ time they expect to have a prototype device ready that will make biofuel from using not much more than carbon monoxide, easily derived from carbon dioxide.

"We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction," wrote Stanford’s Matthew Kanan, a co-author of the report released this week.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Nearly half of U.S. drivers don't recognize tire pressure warning light

GasBuddy Blog -- Are you one of those folks who has no idea why that thing that looks like an exclamation mark has popped up on your dashboard? If you are, you're not alone.

A study funded by Shrader International – the company that makes tire inflation valve stems and “a global leader in Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems” – found that 42 percent of drivers are unable to identify the low-tire-pressure warning light in the gauge cluster.

What good is it if people don't know what it means?

Almost as bad as not knowing what your car is trying to tell you is that an equal percentage of those polled admitted to rarely checking the air pressure in their tires. This would indicate that nearly half of all drivers on the road don’t...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Chicago 30-Hour Tie-Up for Buffett’s Trains Slows Coal: Freight

bloomyberg -- Come to the west side of Chicago to find out why a power plant in Michigan is short of coal and a biodiesel maker in Brewster, Minnesota, can’t get enough grain.

The answer is found near Western Avenue, where rail cars from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest U.S. publicly traded ethanol producer, rest idle on the track above the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. A short drive away a burnt orange, yellow and black locomotive from Warren Buffett’s BNSF railway sits on an overpass as motor traffic is snarled below.

Transport snarls are one reason coal on the New York Mercantile Exchange has risen 5.5 percent in the past year.

Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal has jumped 26 percent.

The railroad will need the rest of this year to untangle the train tie-ups in the corridor.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Speedway Partners With IGS for CNG Station

ConvenienceStoreNews -- Speedway LLC is teaming up with IGS CNG Services to bring a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station here near the convenience store operator’s headquarters. The site will be located at the Ohio State Route 99 exit off of Interstate 75, with construction set to begin early this summer.

According to the companies, the creation of a CNG fueling station serves a growing number of businesses looking for easy access to the alternative fuel while traveling through the region after converting their fleets to natural gas.

“We are pleased to offer our Speedway site as a convenient fueling location for customers with natural gas vehicles,” said Tony Kenney, president of Speedway.

The Findlay, Ohio, station will be the sixth offering CNG in IGS’ network. “In partnership with Speedway our...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gas might be most expensive in May, report says

Star Tribune -- The summer driving season usually brings higher gas prices, but motorists won't see a big spike at the pump this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Short-term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook.

Gas prices will peak at an average of $3.66 in May and then steadily decline to around $3.46 per gallon by September, the report released Wednesday said.

And looking further down the road, the EIA predicts that the average price of a gallon of gas in the calendar year of 2015 will be $3.37 compared with the average of $3.51 in 2013. Today, AAA says the average price nationally is $3.61 while it's $3.51 in Minnesota. It was $3.50 in the Twin Cities.

“Many people seem to be feeling less pressure to make significant changes in their lives on account of high gas prices,”  (read more)

Submitted Apr 11, 2014 By:

Putin makes a play for Ukraine's money from international loans

Star Tribune -- Vladimir Putin warned Europe on Thursday that it may face a shutdown of Russian natural gas supplies if it fails to help Ukraine settle its enormous Russian gas bill — a debt that far exceeds a bailout package offered by the International Monetary Fund.

The Russian president’s letter to 18 Eastern European leaders aimed to divide the 28-nation European Union and siphon off to Russia the billions in loans that the international community plans to give Ukraine.

It was all part of Russia’s efforts to retain control over its struggling neighbor, which is teetering on the verge of financial ruin and facing a pro-Russian mutiny in the east.

Putin’s message is clear: The E.U. has tried to lure Ukraine from Russia’s orbit and into its fold, so it should now foot Ukraine’s gas bill — or face...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 11, 2014 By:

TxDOT tells young drivers: 'Talk, Text, Crash'

GasBuddy Blog -- It's time to tell the kids --again-- to wise up. Drivers who use a cell phone when driving are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. While distractions affect drivers of all ages, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that hand-­held cell phone use is highest among 16-­ to 24-­year-­olds.

As the number of crashes caused by distracted drivers continues to rise, the Texas Department of Transportation, among many others, is urging motorists to put away their mobile devices and other distractions, and pay attention to the road. April marks National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the kickoff of TxDOT’s annual Talk, Text, Crash public education campaign...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 11, 2014 By:

IKEA Continues Trend Of Supplying Its Own Renewable Energy

Forbes -- IKEA announced this morning that it is buying its first wind farm in the United States, a 98 MW wind project in Hoopestown, Illinois (approximately 110 miles south of Chicago). This purchase represents the single largest renewable invest made by IKEA anywhere on the planet, and gets the company closer to its goal of being net zero (producing as much as it consumes) by 2020. The total amount of money allocated to this corporate energy effort is $2 billion.

The Hoopestown project, currently under construction and including 49 two MW Vestas turbines, will be complete by the first half of 2015. Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group, commented in a press release that “We are delighted to make this investment – it is great for jobs, great for energy security, and great f  (read more)

Submitted Apr 11, 2014 By:

Nevada solar plant creates worldwide buzz

KLAS-TV Las Vegas -- Crescent Dunes solar plant could be called the tower of power. It's the most advanced solar plant in the world and ready to open soon. The 600-foot tower rising from the desert floor just near Tonopah looks somewhat ominous. To the chagrin of detractors, the billion dollar Crescent Dunes Solar Plant is on schedule to fulfill every promise made when it accepted a federal loan guarantee. Without that loan, the plant wouldn't exist.

"We are 90 percent complete with construction, more than 1,000 workers are on the job welding, bolting and assembling. The 110 megawatt plant could be producing clean, renewable electricity by the fall.

A forest of nearly 10,000 solar collectors is arrayed around the tower, but "molten salt is the core of our technology. At any given time, we have 70 million  (read more)

Submitted Apr 11, 2014 By:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Multiple recalls for Toyota mean a crisis in quality control, consumer confidence

GasBuddy Blog -- For Toyota, things just keep getting worse. Toyota is recalling 6.39 million vehicles worldwide -- about 2.34 million in North America -- in actions for five different defects.

None of the various defects affecting 27 Toyota models and the Toyota-built Pontiac Vibe and Subaru Trezia in various markets is linked with crashes or deaths, Toyota said, but it knows of two fires linked to a defective starter motor.

Some vehicles were recalled for more than one problem and will need more than one repair, USA TODAY reports.
The recall in the U.S. of the Vibe, a rebadged Toyota Matrix, will be handled by General Motors.

Toyota says two of the recalls affect vehicles in North America, 1.77 million i the U.S., and...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 10, 2014 By:

Deepening divide over climate change sparks fierce debate

Fox News -- In the climate change debate, believers and skeptics alike have vastly different opinions based on widely divergent facts.

That was illustrated by Wednesday's release of "Climate Change Reconsidered II," a study by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, which draws its conclusions from thousands of peer-reviewed papers, and which finds global warming to be an entirely manageable, if not beneficial, change in the climate.

The report stands in stark contrast to the U.N.'s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of March 31, which predicts "severe impacts" from climate change, but which was toned down from earlier IPCC reports that predicted an array of global catastrophes resulting from the proliferation of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphe  (read more)

Submitted Apr 10, 2014 By:

Toyota Recalling Over 1.4 Million Cars Over Airbags and Seats Issues

AutoEvolution -- Seems like 2014 will be another year of recalls for Toyota as the 8th one has been recently announced by the company. It involves over 6 million vehicles worldwide, out of which about 1.4 million are located in the United States.

Toyota Motor Sales US just announced it will organize a voluntary safety recall involving around 1.3 million vehicles due to a problem in the driver’s airbag module. The recall involves the following model year vehicles:

•2009-2010 Corolla
•2009-2010 Matrix
•2008-2010 Highlander
•2009-2010 Tacoma
•2006-2008 RAV4
•2006-2010 Yaris

Toyota discovered that the driver’s airbag assembly in the involved vehicles is attached to a spiral cable with electrical connections that could get damaged when the steering wheel is turned. In case this happens, the air bag lamp in  (read more)

Submitted Apr 10, 2014 By:

Ziesel, the Amazing Mini-Tank Is Available, Prices Announced [Photo Gallery][Video]

AutoEvolution -- When Jan from Mattro Mobility Revolutions sent me the first email today and it read something related to the “Ziesel”, it took me a couple of minutes to recollect where had I heard the name before. And when the memory was restored, a broad smile shone on my face, especially as Jan announced me that the company started delivering their amazing off-road vehicle to customers.

So basically, we’re dealing with a very beautiful dream which came true and is now making its way to eager customers. The Ziesel (German for ground squirrel) is a two-track electric vehicle with an all-purpose design. It can serve as a nifty leisure machine, but it will also work very hard. And to make things even better, the Ziesel feels at home in the snow, on rocky ground, on wet, muddy trails, sand and you-name-it.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 10, 2014 By:

GasBuddy provides outlook for spring gas prices, reviews 1Q at the pump

GasBuddy Blog -- With the first quarter of the year over, GasBuddy looked at what took place at some 120,000 gas stations across the United States during the first quarter, as well as what is yet to come.

Virginia boasted the largest savings at the pump for January through March versus the same time period in 2013, at 23.7 cents per gallon. Also in the top five are Georgia (23.5c/gal lower), Mississippi (23.5c/gal), South Carolina (23.2c/gal), and Alabama (23.1c/gal). A total of 48 states saw lower gas prices this year than last during the first quarter, with the exceptions being Colorado (8.6c/gal higher), and Wyoming (14c/gal higher).

Montana saw the cheapest average in the first quarter, with gas prices averaging a mere $3.09/gal. Hawaii...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 10, 2014 By:

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Scientists Make Ethanol Without Corn Or Other Crops

Reuters -- Scientists said on Wednesday they have developed a new way to make liquid ethanol efficiently without using corn or other crops needed in the conventional method for producing the biofuel.

The scientists said their process turns carbon monoxide gas into liquid ethanol with the help of an electrode made of a form of copper. They said the new technique may be more environmentally friendly and efficient than the current method.

Critics say that growing crops for biofuels is energy-intensive and takes up vast tracts of nonagricultural land, using too much water and fertilizer. They also say diverting corn and sugar to make biofuels pushes up food prices.

A group of scientists led by Stanford University chemist Matthew Kanan described the new method in research published in the journal Natur  (read more)

Submitted Apr 09, 2014 By:

Gas Prices Continue To Rise Across Mid-South -- We're seeing a steady, uncomfortable climb in gas prices here in the Mid-South, and it could be just the beginning.

Experts said in the next few weeks the average price for gas will likely top out at about $3.65 a gallon.

Not good news for Mid-South families who are juggling an already tight budget. And the crazy part is, Summer is not even here yet.

“It seems like it jumped way out of sight overnight,” driver Tommy Sullivan said.

Tommy Sullivan lives in North Mississippi and he's trying to enjoy his retirement days. But rising gas prices seem to be burning a hole in his wallet.

“It seems like about three weeks ago we were giving about $3.19, and all of a sudden you look up it's $3.40. To me it's just way out of hand,” Sullivan said.

Millions of drivers might do the same thing. Nati  (read more)

Submitted Apr 09, 2014 By:

Goodbye, Oil: US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Sh

International Business Times -- After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

The Navy’s 289 vessels all rely on oil-based fuel, with the exception of some aircraft carriers and 72 submarines that rely on nuclear propulsion. Moving away from that ...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 09, 2014 By:

Toyota recalls 6.4 million cars worldwide

CNN -- Toyota announced five recalls on Wednesday, affecting a total of 6.39 million vehicles globally.
The recalls cover 27 Toyota models -- including Camry, Corolla, Matrix and Highlander -- the Pontiac Vibe and the Subaru Trezia. Some of the vehicles were made as early as 2004.
Toyota plans to inspect and, if necessary, replace parts including seat rails, steering column brackets, engine starters, windshield wiper motors and air bag cables, the company said in a statement.
The announcement affects around 2 million vehicles in North America, which may be experiencing problems with an air bag cable and seat rails.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 09, 2014 By:

Fukushima’s Tepco Slapped with US$1B Lawsuit by 79 US Sailors Over Radiation Claims

International Business Times -- Financially strapped Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, has been slapped a US$1 billion lawsuit by the 79 US sailors who were the first respondents to the crisis three years ago. The sailors claimed the operator lied about the high level of radiation in the area as they carried out their humanitarian mission.

The sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan never imagined that they too would become victims of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Some of the sailors have developed a number of cancer cases. One of them has given birth to a child with birth defects, the lawsuit filed in federal court in San Diego said.

On their first day at Fukushima, the sailors said they got drenched in radioactive fallout. They noticed a cloud...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 09, 2014 By: