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Monday, April 07, 2014

Do American drivers care about better gas mileage?

Christain Science Monitor -- The average gas mileage for American automobiles is getting better, but American car buyers still seem uninterested in trading in their pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles for compact cars.

Last month, the average fuel economy of new cars sold in the U.S. hit another all-time high, reaching 25.4 mpg. But do Americans really care?

Americans (and other car buyers around the world) obviously take note of gas prices, and there's data to suggest that fuel economy remains the top criteria for new-car shoppers. However, while that may affect consumers' choices within a certain segment -- say, jumping from a Honda crossover to one made by Ford -- that doesn't mean that they're going to move to a completely new style of vehicle -- say, from an SUV to a compact. A 2012 study revealed that 42  (read more)

Submitted Apr 07, 2014 By:

National average springs higher yet again

GasBuddy Blog -- Last week saw another week of rising gasoline prices across much of the United States, with the national average rising just a little over a penny per gallon to $3.55/gallon. That remains under last year's $3.58/gal on the same day, and is the highest since September 13, 2013.

The six month trend chart is starting to show a slowdown in the increases, however. Nationally, prices began to rise around February 7, and have been on an upward trajectory since then. However, the spike began cooling in mid-March, with prices rising just 8-cents a gallon over the last month.

It looks as it will be increasingly unlikely that the national average hits the $3.83/gallon that GasBuddy had forecast for the spring last December.
read more)

Submitted Apr 07, 2014 By:

Latest oil incident belies painful truth

Houston Chronicle -- Shortly before noon March 30, a storage tank on a platform in the northernmost lobe of Galveston Bay began overflowing because of an equipment malfunction. At least 160 gallons of light crude oil poured into the water and spread to nearby marshes.

The incident mainly occurred in the background, as attention was focused on a larger problem across the bay, where crews were in their ninth day of cleaning up nearly 170,000 gallons of heavy oil spilled by a punctured barge.

The one-two punch underscores a depressing truth about these blue-collar waters: Oil spills happen almost every day.Galveston Bay has averaged 285 spills a year since 1998, according to the Houston Advanced Research Center, which publishes periodic reports on the state of the bay's ecosystem.

The spills typically are  (read more)

Submitted Apr 07, 2014 By:

Vast oil trove trapped in Monterey Shale formation

Los Angeles Times -- SHAFTER, Calif. — A bustling city is sprouting on five acres here, carved out of a vast almond grove. Tanker trucks and heavy equipment come and go, a row of office trailers runs the length of the site and an imposing 150-foot drilling rig illuminated by football-field-like lights rises over the trees. It's all been hustled into service to solve a tantalizing riddle: how to tap into the largest oil shale reservoir in the United States. Across the southern San Joaquin Valley, oil exploration sites have popped up in agricultural fields and on government land, driven by the hope that technological advances in oil extraction — primarily hydraulic fracturing and acidization — can help provide access to deep and lucrative oil reserves. The race began after the federal Energy Information Administ  (read more)

Submitted Apr 07, 2014 By:

US crude slips on Libyan oil port stand-off agreement

REUTERS -- U.S. crude oil slipped on Monday to trade around $101 a barrel after Libyan rebels and the government agreed to end an eight-month oil port standoff, which has cost the OPEC producer billions in lost revenues.

U.S. crude for May lost 12 cents at $101.02 a barrel as of 0005 GMT, after it settled 85 cents higher at $101.14 a barrel in the previous session.

May Brent crude declined 52 cents to $106.20 a barrel. It had ended 57 cents higher at $106.72 a barrel in the previous session.

Libyan rebels occupying four eastern oil ports agreed with the government on Sunday to end their petroleum blockade. The restart of Libya's eastern oil ports could release about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, bumping up the OPEC producer's output from around 150,000 bpd, but still far from the 1.4 mi  (read more)

Submitted Apr 07, 2014 By:

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Consumer Reports: Skip extended car warranties -- It's any car owner's fear needing a costly repair just after the warranty has run out. Extended warranties promise peace of mind. But they're expensive. And a Consumer Reports survey of 12,000 subscribers found extended warranties are an "expensive gamble." The survey shows more than half the people who bought an extended warranty never used the coverage. And even among those who did, they spent far more for the coverage than they saved in repairs.

The cost of an extended car warranty averaged $1,214. Among those who used it, the median savings was just $837 and that's a net loss of more than $375.

Consumer Reports survey subscribers about all kinds of things, all kinds of products and services. And extended warranties rated down at the bottom in satisfaction.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 06, 2014 By:

Ukraine moves to crack Russia's hold on its nuclear power

cs monitor -- It's not just natural gas that keeps Ukraine under Russia's thumb. Almost all the fuel for Ukraine's 15 nuclear reactors comes from Russia, too.
But just as Ukraine is struggling to diversify away from Russian natural gas, it is also eager to break Moscow's virtual monopoly over its nuclear fuel.

Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse Electric Co. told various media outlets this week it will renew a contract with Ukraine's Energoatom that will extend and expand its flow of nuclear fuel to the struggling nation. The deal is valued at $100 million.

"Based on discussions as late as last night [April 3], we will make a deal and increase fuel deliveries this year, and the agreement will be multiple years, going through 2020,” Michael Kirst, Westinghouse vice president of customer relations and sal  (read more)

Submitted Apr 06, 2014 By:

For real? Mazda's latest recall due to a spider, man -- It's deja vu all over again.

Being a car dealer's daughter, granddaughter and niece three times over, stuff about cars always piques my interest. But this made my skin crawl.

Spiders are the creepy, crawly culprits that are once again attacking Mazdas, just like they did back in 2009.
Do you think the manufacturers could have solved this by now? The spiders are apparently drawn by the smell of gas in Mazdas.

NBC News reports Mazda is recalling 42,000 Mazda6 cars in the U.S. because spiders can weave a web in a vent hose and cause the fuel tank to crack, according to a report filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall involves cars from the 2010 through 2012 model years equipped with 2.5-liter engines.

And get this: it occurs only in the cars made at ...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 06, 2014 By:

Wind farm rules are costing jobs and investment, report claims Read more:

the age -- Hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars worth of investment have been stymied in key electorates across Victoria because of state government wind farm restrictions, according to new research.

In a week when job losses dominated the political landscape, an analysis of wind farm proposals suggests some of the most volatile seats heading into this year's election have missed out on construction jobs and the possibility of ongoing economic benefits because of rules preventing projects in certain areas.

While Premier Denis Napthine has previously declared his personal love for wind farms - his south-west electorate has the largest wind energy project in the southern hemisphere - Coalition legislation has created a series of ''no go'' zones around many Victorian towns, established a right of  (read more)

Submitted Apr 06, 2014 By:

Shell Rushed Rig to Arctic Sea to Avoid Alaska Tax

Bloomberg -- A desire to avoid millions of dollars inAlaska state taxes played a role in Royal Dutch Shell's decision to move a drilling rig, which later broke free from a tow boat and ran aground on an uninhabited island in Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a report.

Shell had decided to move the Kulluk drill rig to Seattle for repairs because it might have been subject to a state property tax had it remained in Alaska waters beyond Jan. 1, 2013, according to the report released yesterday that offered eight recommendations to improve safety.

“A complex series of events contributed to the error chain that resulted in the grounding,” the report states. “The most significant factor was the decision to attempt the voyage during the winter in the unique and challenging operating environment of Alaska.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 06, 2014 By:

Saturday, April 05, 2014

California regulations block state shale oil boom

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Republican lawmakers said on Friday over regulation has prevented a shale oil boom in California and if eased, could boost production in the state and reduce its dependence on foreign energy.

With more than an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California's Monterey shale formation is twice as large as North Dakota's Bakken formation. That state has risen to become the second-largest U.S. oil producer in recent years, behind Texas.

California had the third-largest U.S. oil output in 2013, narrowly ahead of Alaska, but could produce far more if the state aggressively moved to develop its energy resources, lawmakers said at a House Natural Resources committee hearing.

"The challenge now is not our ability to find it,  (read more)

Submitted Apr 05, 2014 By:

Energy Department revives auto loan program despite Fisker flop

Fox News -- The Obama administration announced this week it is reopening a loan program for advanced fuel-efficient vehicles that was derided by Republican lawmakers last year after two of the first five loan beneficiaries halted operations.

The Department of Energy said Wednesday it is reviving the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program and is reaching out to manufacturers of auto parts and components to apply for more than $16 billion in available funding, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the program, which has has provided $8.4 billion in funding since 2009, will have a revised application process to speed up reviews and address concerns from auto makers about the process being too complex.

The program came under scrutiny after the department  (read more)

Submitted Apr 05, 2014 By:

Pennsylvania to collect $224M in gas drilling fees

The Oklahoman-AP -- Pennsylvania's new "impact fee" on the booming natural gas drilling industry is expected to generate $224.5 million from wells in 2013, up 10 percent over last year, Gov. Tom Corbett's administration said Friday.

The projection is based on Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission data, and the money will be paid out July 1 to local governments and state agencies and programs.

The calculation comes as the prospect of slapping a bigger tax on the industry more in line with other gas-producing states is a common theme among the Democrats running for the party's nomination to challenge the Republican governor in the fall.

The idea has some currency among Republicans, too. On Tuesday, a GOP candidate for an open Senate seat in southeastern Pennsylvania, Tom McGarrigle, proposed a 4 percent...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 05, 2014 By:

Minnesota company recalls gas fireplaces due to explosion hazard

Brainerd Dispatch -- Hussong Manufacturing Co Inc will recall about 16,000 gas fireplaces and fireplace inserts after nine reports of explosions and two injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Friday.

The Lakefield, Minnesota, company is recalling 22 models sold under the brands Kozy Heat Fireplaces, Ambiance Fireplaces and Stellar Hearth Products, the agency said in a statement.

Hussong has received nine reports of gas being released prematurely and exploding, causing minor property damage. There have been two reports of abrasions, it said.

The gas fireplaces and fireplace inserts use American Flame brand control modules. They were manufactured in the United States between October 2009 and April 2013.

The products were sold in Canada and the United States for between $1,450 and $3,325, th  (read more)

Submitted Apr 05, 2014 By:

'Stingray School' maximizes Corvette driving experience

GasBuddy Blog -- If you drive a Corvette you've got to give it the dignity it deserves. That's why Chevrolet is helping owners get the most from their new Corvette Stingray through the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School. The two-day program is available to 2014 Corvette Stingray owners for $1,000 – a $1,500 reduction from the standard rate.

Developed and managed by legendary Corvette racer Ron Fellows, the performance driving performance-driving curriculum at Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump, Nev. accommodates drivers of all skill levels. And they can leave their own car at home; there's a fleet of Corvettes waiting for them.

The discount from Chevrolet is good for one year from the retail purchase of a new...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 05, 2014 By:

Friday, April 04, 2014

Price of gasoline jumps, drivers notice

St Louis Post Dispatch -- After a long winter, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t ready for spring — at least the warm weather part, not the higher gas prices.

It’s normal this time of year to start shelling out more when you fill up at the pump. But the normal seasonal rise of gasoline prices turned into a leap locally this week. The average price of regular jumped 10 cents overnight on Tuesday, and by Thursday, it had risen an additional 4 cents on the Missouri side of the St. Louis area to $3.57.

The average price is now at its highest level in 10 months. The increase didn’t go unnoticed.

“When I pulled up I was like, ‘holy crap it’s a lot higher,’” said Paula Yancey, a St. John resident who was filling up at the QuikTrip at Gravois and Nebraska avenues on Wednesday.

AAA reported Tuesday that average price  (read more)

Submitted Apr 04, 2014 By:

Ethanol producers complain about rail service

Sioux City Journal -- Ethanol producers say clogged rail lines and other shipping problems have forced them to reduce production of the fuel and contributed to higher prices.

The Renewable Fuels Association criticized railroads Thursday and triggered a strong response from the Association of American Railroads.

RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen says railroads should take the blame for ethanol prices jumping more than $1 a gallon between early February and late March.

AAR CEO Ed Hamberger acknowledges rail traffic slowed in certain areas, but he says it's preposterous to suggest the rail network is in disarray.

Hamberger says railroads have done their best to deal with an exceptional winter, sizeable grain harvest and increased coal demand.

Railroads have hauled 6.8 million carloads this year — about 2 perc  (read more)

Submitted Apr 04, 2014 By:

Rear-view cameras to be mandatory by 2018, NHTSA rules

GasBuddy Blog -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. This new rule enhances the safety of these vehicles by significantly reducing the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.

"Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of backover accidents — our children and seniors," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "As a father, I can only imagine how heart wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that today's rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 04, 2014 By:

Bill O'Reilly: Root for Tesla

Detroit Free Press -- Tesla Motors is getting a boost from an unexpected place -- Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly included a segment on global warming as part of the back half of the “Talking Points Memo” that leads every O’Reilly report. He chides NBC News anchorman Brian Williams for a report on the serious of global warming, but notes a glowing report on Tesla’s electric Model S car that appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday. He notes the car looks great, performs well and doesn’t use gas. His conclusion: We all should be “rooting for” Tesla. O’Reilly’s support is contrast to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, who regularly took potshots at General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt a few years ago. It wasn’t because of the plug-in’s performance, though. It was because of the federal subsidies that  (read more)

Submitted Apr 04, 2014 By:

After Lac-Megantic Disaster, CP Rail Advocates Shipper Insurance

Reuters -- Governments should require companies shipping crude oil by rail to carry enough liability insurance to make up for shortfalls in coverage carried by railways, the president of Canada's second-largest rail operator said on Thursday.

Currently, there are no requirements in Canada for shippers of oil and other dangerous cargo to carry liability insurance against accidents, Keith Creel, president of Canadian Pacific Railway, said after testifying to the House of Commons' transport committee.

But Creel told the committee that railroad companies have reached the limits of the amount of liability coverage they are able to buy."The only other people that can buy additional insurance would be the shippers of the products. They've not been mandated to do that. It's not a regulatory requirement,"  (read more)

Submitted Apr 04, 2014 By:

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Customers upset over misleading gas price sign in Orange County

Orlando FL Local 6 -- ORLANDO, Fla. - Customers in Orange County are upset that they say a sign at a gas station is tricking them into thinking the prices at the pump appear to be cheaper than they really are.

As of Wednesday, the Mobil station at the corner of Clarke Road and Silver Star in Ocoee has two signs out front that say the price of a regular gallon of gasoline is $3.45. Across the street, the gas station lists the price at almost 20 cents higher.

Upon closer inspection, Local 6 found the sign includes the words "with car wash" in small print next to the $3.45 price of regular gas per gallon. Right below it the price of without the car wash is listed as $3.65. Customers say that the sign is misleading.

"It fooled me because I would have went across the street," said customer Aretha Tobe. "They got  (read more)

Submitted Apr 03, 2014 By:

Great Lakes consumers see steepest gas price hikes in U.S.

GasBuddy Blog -- While gas prices continue to climb incrementally in many U.S. markets, consumers in the Great Lakes have seen the steepest price hikes since New Year’s Day.

U.S. cities with the greatest price increases since January 1, 2014

CITY Change (since Jan 1, 2014)
1. Lansing, MI 70c/gal
2. Grand Rapids, MI 68c/gal
3. Kalamazoo, MI 67c/gal
4. Champaign, IL 66c/gal
5. Flint, MI 64c/gal
6. Toledo, OH 63c/gal
7. Indianapolis, IN 60c/gal
8. Cincinnati, OH 60c/gal
9. Dayton, OH 60c/gal
10. Ft. Wayne, IN 57c/gal
11. Columbus, OH 57c/gal
12. Lexington, KY 57c/gal
13. Omaha, NE 55c/gal
14. Ann Arbor, MI 54c/gal
15. Sioux Falls, SD 53c/gal
read more)

Submitted Apr 03, 2014 By:

Paying for premium gas can be a waste of money

Yahoo Auto -- Many people use premium gasoline thinking that it's better for their engine than regular. That can be a costly mistake, especially when gas prices are high. Octane grades don't represent a "good, better, best" choice; they simply measure the resistance of fuel to knocking or pinging, a condition in which gasoline burns uncontrollably in the engine's combustion chambers. Knocking and pinging can damage an engine.

While high-octane formulations resist knocking better than lower octanes, most engines are designed to take regular gas, which has an octane rating of about 87. Engines requiring premium gas are typically the more powerful ones found in sports and luxury vehicles, which are more vulnerable to knocking, so recommended fuels have octane ratings of 91 or higher. Using premium gas in  (read more)

Submitted Apr 03, 2014 By:

‘It’s been a long winter’: Firewood a hot commodity in northern Maine right now

Bangor Daily News -- FORT KENT, Maine — Few things put a chill in people who heat with wood faster than the thought of winter outlasting the firewood supply.

But that is exactly what some northern Maine residents are facing as they watch their woodpiles shrink faster than the snowbanks.

Fort Kent firewood dealer Butch Dubois sells around 250 cords of firewood annually and said he ran out of seasoned wood two weeks ago but does have green, unseasoned wood available.

“Nobody had enough firewood this year, and right now I have no seasoned wood to sell,” Dubois said. “It makes me feel bad, especially when people call and say they are out of wood — you really want to help them out.”

Despite the demand, cut and split firewood is currently averaging $200 a cord in northern Maine, which is consistent with pre-seas  (read more)

Submitted Apr 03, 2014 By:

Vancouver driver gets 26 tickets in 36 months, driving ban for two months

Tech Times -- Driving while doing other things at the same time is dangerous. That's one of the basic things taught in driving school. Yet a 59 year-old Vancouver man managed to violate this 26 times in 36 months, by driving while using his smartphone.

For this serial offense, he has racked up over $ 4,000 dollars in penalty charges (at $ 167 per ticket), his car has been impounded, and he has been prohibited to drive for two months. He will also have to pay for the towing of his car, and the storage fees for it while it is in impoundment for seven days.

In addition, he will have to pay his insurance, Insurance Corporation of B.C., about $ 24,000 for his 69 penalty points, which was accumulated at three penalty points per ticket.
 (read more)

Submitted Apr 03, 2014 By: