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Friday, July 18, 2014

$2 billion wasted by state government, say opponents of gas tax increase

Springfield MA Republican -- BOSTON — Marking the one-year anniversary of the most recently enacted Beacon Hill tax increase, ballot activists hoping to repeal the indexing of the gas tax to inflation on Thursday released a “State House Tab” delineating areas where they say state government has “wasted” $2 billion.

The mock tab, printed up to appear like a retail receipt and signed by “Hardworking Taxpayers,” places a $332 million cost on the state’s crime lab evidence tampering scandal, a $500 million cost on the state’s failed health exchange website and related insurance coverage problems, and says welfare fraud has cost $200 million.

The tab also lists $175 million in health costs associated with “ineligible” residents, and describes as waste the $9 million makeover of Gov. Deval Patrick’s office and $2.6 millio  (read more)

Submitted Jul 18, 2014 By:

New Hampshire Power Plant Turns to Russia for Coal Shipment

Climate Change News -- When New Hampshire’s largest utility needed to rebuild coal supplies after the past frigid winter, it turned to Russia rather than Appalachia in the U.S. Northeast or Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

The Doric Victory, a bulk carrier the length of two football fields, transported the fuel almost 4,000 miles (6,436 kilometers) from Riga, Latvia, last month to Public Service of New Hampshire’s Schiller power plant in Portsmouth, a 150-megawatt facility that’s produced electricity since 1952.

Utilities in the U.S. are scrambling for coal, on pace to increase imports 26 percent this year, as railroad bottlenecks slow deliveries and electricity demand climbs with an improving economy. Russia, the world’s third-largest exporter of the fuel, will boost shipments 3.9 percent to 106 million metric  (read more)

Submitted Jul 18, 2014 By:

Algenol - Fuel From the Sun

The Island -- The last time we visited Algenol at their ribbon cutting ceremony in October of 2010, the facility consisted of three buildings containing their labs and research and development center. Today, the company's location off of Alico Road boasts six buildings with more than 90,000 square feet housing 127 employees, and stands poised to move into commercial development of its revolutionary biofuel - meaning that Floridians may be able to fill up their vehicles with algae-based gasoline by early 2016. This represents the fulfillment of a dream by visionary CEO Paul Woods, who plans to announce the location of Algenol's 452-job manufacturing plant by the end of 2014...  (read more)

Submitted Jul 18, 2014 By:

Nissan Launches 'No Charge to Charge' Program

GasBuddy Blog -- The economics are simple: Buy an all-electric Nissan LEAF, and you save money by avoiding the gas pump. With Nissan's "No Charge to Charge" promotion, new LEAF buyers in certain markets get an even better deal with two years of free public charging.New Nissan LEAF drivers are now enjoying free charging at eligible public stations, thanks to the new "No Charge to Charge" program, which is now live in 10 markets across the United States. With free access to charging at more than 2,600 public stations available in the initial program markets, including more than 200 quick chargers, LEAF drivers are also experiencing the "range confidence" that public charging can provide.  Is that what you'd need to consider buying one? ...  (read more)

Submitted Jul 18, 2014 By:

Dead Air: End of Tax Credit Deflates Wind Power

US News & World Report -- It’s in the doldrums.

If there was any question about whether and how the wind industry would be affected by the absence of a federal tax credit, the evidence is here.

While more than 12,000 megawatts' worth of new wind power was installed in 2012, fewer than 2,000 new megawatts were just a year later. The reason: Investors rightly predicted the production tax credit would not be renewed by Congress before it expired after last year, according to data from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Wind Energy Association.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 18, 2014 By:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

GM Could be Charged with Fraud Over Ignition Switch Recall Delay

AutoEvolution -- Several federal prosecutor's have joined forces and are currently doing their homework in order to charge General Motors with fraud over the notorious defective ignition switch recall. Evidence of misleading statements spanning over 10 years are at the center of the upcoming case intended for the automaker.

A short time after GM made the first ignition switch recall public earlier this year, federal prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department found out documents showing that higher-ups knew about the potentially deadly switches as early as 2004. After the Ford-Firestone tire controversy, the TREAD Act was passed in 2000, which basically outlines early reporting requirements and establishes criminal liability for intentional violations.

Even though General Motors has already been fined  (read more)

Submitted Jul 17, 2014 By:

Ex-Greenpeace member scared of imminent ‘global cooling’

r t -- A former prominent member of Greenpeace told an audience at a Las Vegas, Nevada event this week that concerns regarding global warming are overblown, and that the opposite may actually soon be occurring.

“I fear a global cooling,” warned Canadian ecologist Patrick Moore, who played a significant role in Greenpeace Canada before leaving the environmentalist group in 1986 and later authoring a book titled “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout.”

Speaking to a crowd while presenting a keynote address on Tuesday this week at the International Conference on Climate Chance, Moore insisted that recent statistics show the US is currently cooling, that there has been “no global warming for nearly 18 years” and that the results could have an adverse impact on the world’s agriculture.

“Let’s hope fo  (read more)

Submitted Jul 17, 2014 By:

States with fracking see surge in earthquake activity -- FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.

Oklahoma has recorded nearly 250 small-to-medium earthquakes since January, according to statistics kept by the U.S. Geological Survey.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 17, 2014 By:

Golf TDI, Fiesta SFE break 50 m.p.g. barrier with ease

Detroit Free Press -- Fifty miles a gallon. It was an unattainable goal for years, but two new small cars pave the road for many vehicles to hit that magic number.

The three-star 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI hatchback and four-star 2014 Ford Fiesta SFE hatchback deliver comfort, performance and superb fuel economy. Gone are the days when high-miles per gallon was synonymous with either expensive hybrid technology vehicles or the dreaded “econobox.”

Both cars over-delivered on their EPA-rated highway fuel economy, easily topping 50 m.p.g.

The Golf TDI diesel is all new for 2015. The Golf hatchback comes in two- and four-door versions, with a variety of engines. Gasoline models start at $17,995 for a two-door, but the diesel TDI starts at $21,495 with a five-speed manual transmission.

I tested a mid-range TDI SE  (read more)

Submitted Jul 17, 2014 By:

After hybrid success, Toyota gambles on fuel cell

AP -- Rocket science long dismissed as too impractical and expensive for everyday cars is getting a push into the mainstream by Toyota, the world's top-selling automaker.Buoyed by its success with electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles, Toyota is betting that drivers will embrace hydrogen fuel cells, an even cleaner technology that runs on the energy created by an electrochemical reaction when oxygen in the air combines with hydrogen stored as fuel.Unlike internal combustion engines which power most vehicles on roads today, a pure hydrogen fuel cell emits no exhaust, only some heat and a trickle of pure water. Fuel cells also boast greater efficiency than the internal combustion process, which expends about two-thirds of the energy in gasoline as heat.Toyota's fuel cell car will go on sale before Apr  (read more)

Submitted Jul 17, 2014 By:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Energy-Starved 'Planet Of The Apes' What Greens Want

Investors Business Daily -- Energy: For those who haven't seen the latest blockbuster movie, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," it portrays a future with small colonies of humans fighting for survival against an Earth now ruled by monkeys, gorillas and other simians.

What mankind needs most to survive and restore a semblance of normal life is electricity — aka power. Without it, we have no light, no communications, no way to travel but on foot, no computer power, no heat, no stoves. The apes want to keep the humans poor, disoriented and in a hopeless state.

A turning point arrives with cheers in the theater when the humans return an electric power dam to operation and the entire city powers up again.

Which leads us to wonder if this movie is a metaphor for what we face in our real future. Not a future of apes, but  (read more)

Submitted Jul 16, 2014 By:

He Pulled Over a Fellow Police Officer for Speeding. What Happened Next Had More Cops Rushing to the

TheBlaze -- It started simply enough: Miami police officer Marcel Jackson saw a car speeding, and after he chased it down for a few blocks the car pulled over.

But things quickly got crazy — and Jackson wound up suspended because of it, WPLG-TV reported.

“I stopped him… because he approached a pedestrian,” Jackson said on a recorded phone call afterwards. “He was flying, so I pulled him over.”

Jackson approached the vehicle and made contact with the driver.

Then the driver opened his door and started to get out — and a brawl began.

Other officers rushed to the scene to help with the altercation, dog piling the man who had been pulled over.

After everyone was on the ground, the police realized that the man they had pummeled was one of their own: Lt. David Ramras.(VIDEO)

 (read more)

Submitted Jul 16, 2014 By:

Conservatives Want To Fundamentally Change The Way The US Pays For Highways

Business Insider -- The House of Representatives is set to vote Tuesday on a short-term patch to the federal Highway Trust Fund, an issue that is making for interesting alliances on Wednesday.

Conservative groups like Heritage Action and the Club for Growth are leading the charge to gradually devolve transportation funding to individual states, arguing they would be in better position to determine their own projects without being dependent on Washington.

For conservatives, highway spending provides another chance to debate federal role in policies they view as better handled by states.

The House GOP's bill will keep the trust fund solvent through next May.

But some opponents of that plan argue some smaller states would be wholly unable to fund all of the burgeoning problems with their highways and infra  (read more)

Submitted Jul 16, 2014 By:

NH traffic deaths take sharp decline

Union Leader -- The number of roadway deaths as of Friday this year totals 40, a hopeful sign that efforts to reduce the 135 people killed in 2013 are working, the state’s highway safety coordinator said Thursday.
The fatality count increased by one with a Saturday motorcycle fatal in Manchester. See related story here.
“Let’s hope we’re on the right path,” New Hampshire Highway Safety Agency coordinator Peter M. Thomson said.
Eight of the 40 people killed on all roads through July 7 this year were motorcyclists, he said.
This compares with 56 roadway deaths during the same period last year of which nine involved motorcyclists, Thomson reported.
Traffic fatalities totalled 90 in 2011 — the lowest number in a half century, Thomson said.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 16, 2014 By:

New device opens up ALL CAR DOORS!

CNN -- New device opens up ALL CAR DOORS!
Do not leave any valuables VISIBLE in your Car!

Until we (or the police) have a fix, keep NO valuables in your car.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 16, 2014 By:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

800 Degree Heat From Solar Mirrors Frying Birds Mid Air

Oil -- There is growing evidence that birds flying in the vicinity of a solar thermal power project in California’s Mojave Desert are being injured and even killed either by the solar heat that’s focused with mirrors on its three energy-collecting towers, or by colliding with the mirrors themselves.

Yet a task force set up to investigate the problem at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) has brushed aside several recommendations by the forensics laboratory of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), according to the minutes of a meeting on the subject obtained by the Los Angeles public television station KCET.Select the reports you are interested in:Who Will be the Big Winners in the Coming LNG Bonanza

How to Play the Coming Boom in Advanced Fracking Technology

Why the  (read more)

Submitted Jul 15, 2014 By:

U.S. gasoline prices at 3-month lows

ap -- Wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $2.93 a gallon.

Lacking any catalysts, the price of oil barely changed Monday. Meanwhile, gasoline prices in the U.S. slipped to three-month lows.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery rose 8 cents at $100.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Nymex contract fell 3.1 percent last week and is down 4.3 percent so far in July. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gained 45 cents to $107.71 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. is $3.61 a gallon, the lowest since April 10, according to AAA. Gas is about 4 cents cheaper than a week ago, but drivers are still paying around a penny more than at this time last year. In Texas Monday, the average was $3.455 a gallon, down from  (read more)

Submitted Jul 15, 2014 By:

Pilot Flying J Faces $92 Million Fine For Withholding Rebates From Customers

GasBuddy Blog -- Pilot Flying J, the large U.S. operator of truck stops, agreed to pay a $92 million fine to resolve its criminal liability for a scheme in which employees fraudulently withheld diesel fuel price rebates from customers, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Monday.The Knoxville, Tennessee-based company accepted legal responsibility for criminal conduct of its employees and has made more than $56 million of restitution and $12 million of additional payments to customers, the Justice Department said. ...  (read more)

Submitted Jul 15, 2014 By:

White House endorses Republican highway bill

The Hill -- The White House on Monday backed a $10 billion bill in the House that would extend federal transportation funding through next spring.

The surprise endorsement of the bill, which is scheduled to come up for a vote in the House on Tuesday, clears the way for a deal with Democrats in the Senate.

For most of the year, President Obama has pushed lawmakers to approve a transportation funding package that would last four years and include $302 billion in road and transit spending.

But with transportation funding expected to run out next month, the White House said Monday that Obama would accept the House's temporary measure, which would only extend transportation funding until May 2015.
 (read more)

Submitted Jul 15, 2014 By:

Retail Gasoline Prices Likely To Drop 10-to-25 cents per gal. Over Next 2 Weeks

GasBuddy Blog -- If you’re seeing a pleasant decrease in the price at the pump you’re not imagining things. The U.S. average retail price of gasoline has fallen below $3.60/gal for the first time since April 10, 2014. Prices have been on an 18 consecutive day streak where the current price was less than the price from the previous day, and it’s the highest number of consecutive down days since the period between April 4, 2013 and April 19, 2013, when prices fell 11.8cts/ gal from $3.63 to $3.52. The U.S. average, now $3.59/gal., has dropped by 5 cents in the past week....  (read more)

Submitted Jul 15, 2014 By:

Monday, July 14, 2014

EPA Tries to Cut Off Crucial Supply of Military Surplus Trucks for Fire Departments

National Review -- Rural fire departments and law enforcement agencies nearly lost access to the army surplus equipment they need to protect property and citizens because the Environmental Protection Agency had discontinued the program.

The program has now been reinstated, though access may still be affected by the EPA’s emissions standards, if surplus vehicles aren’t given the same exemption active-duty military vehicles do.

Excess Property Manager Eric Ward of the Kansas Forest Service says he doesn’t know whether Kansas fire departments will actually be able to access the trucks they need. The longstanding program has allowed rural fire departments to repurpose surplus military equipment into fire engines and water tenders, but recently ceased when the Department of Defense decided that the vehicles did  (read more)

Submitted Jul 14, 2014 By:

Trains filled with flammable crude oil threaten area, records show -- As many as 40 crude oil trains, each carrying a million or more gallons of the flammable liquid involved in several recent fiery derailments, roll through the Chicago area weekly, documents obtained by the Tribune show.

Although mile-long trains hauling scores of black tank cars have become a common sight in the past year, the documents provide the first public tally of the volume of such shipments passing through the nation's busiest rail hub.

The major freight railroads disclosed the information to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in response to growing concern over the potential danger of crude oil shipments from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, Montana and Canada.

"Releases of petroleum crude oil, subsequent fires and environmental damage resulting from such releases repre  (read more)

Submitted Jul 14, 2014 By:

Oil and gas exploration on rise in metro Detroit

CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS -- Lease deals for landowners' mineral rights and permits to drill new oil wells are both on the rise in metro Detroit.

But as new pumps begin to dot the landscape in communities like Shelby Township and Scio Township, the out-state portion of Michigan's oil and gas exploration industry is largely lackluster.

The shift is best documented by trends with state permits.

Oil and gas exploration company executives and state regulatory officials say permit requests to drill new wells have been moving over the past two years toward Southeast Michigan. The Detroit area has yielded modest oil deposits at relatively shallow depths, making them cheap to drill and easier to spot with new seismic imaging technology.

 (read more)

Submitted Jul 14, 2014 By:

New Hampshire cracks down on extreme speeding

Eagle-Tribune -- After 24 years on the job, New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Paul Hunt remembers plenty of extreme speeding cases over the years.

Those are incidents where drivers are clocked at more than 100 mph, posing a risk to themselves and others, Hunt said.

“It’s just not worth it,” he said. “They are putting everybody else’s life in danger.”

That’s why the Legislature has passed a bill, which Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to sign, that toughens the penalties for those speeders.

The number of these cases is increasing, Hunt said, as more people — especially motorcyclists — hit the road during the summer months.

That couldn’t have been any more evident than last week when state police stopped two motorists traveling well over 100 mph on the same day.

The incidents occurred Wednesday in Green  (read more)

Submitted Jul 14, 2014 By:

Electric Beasts: 9 Hybrid Cars Packing Serious Power

Wall St. Cheat Sheet -- While powerful hybrids and electric vehicles have become a normal site at dealerships (and one EV maker’s “showrooms”), there still is hesitation among drivers who like feeling muscle behind a car’s accelerator. For every high-praise story about Tesla, there seems to be a mocking one about the Toyota Prius or the discontinued Cadillac Escalade Hybrid (yes, that used to be a thing).

Lately, luxury automakers haven’t been shy about showing what an electric motor can do for performance and efficiency.

9. BMW ActiveHybrid 3
8. Lexus GS 450h
7. BMW ActiveHybrid 7
6. BMW i8
5. Infiniti Q70 Hybrid
4. Porsche Cayenne Hybrid (380 hp)
3. Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
2. Lexus LS 600h
1. Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid
 (read more)

Submitted Jul 14, 2014 By: