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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:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

EU's United Front on Russia Falling Amid Gas Needs

ABC News -- A clutch of countries is breaking ranks with the EU's efforts to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia over Ukraine and building a pipeline meant to carry huge amounts of Russian gas to their doorstep.

Their defiance of a European Union stop work order is more significant than just another missed chance for Europe to call out the Kremlin. Russian natural gas already accounts for around a third of the EU's needs. The South Stream pipeline could increase Russian supplies to Europe by another 25 percent, potentially boosting Moscow's leverage long after the Ukraine crisis fades.

Adding to the skein of Russian pipelines already ending in Europe, South Stream would go through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Italy in one leg and Croatia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey i  (read more)

Submitted Jul 13, 2014 By:

Billionaire Elon Musk Giving $1M To Tesla Museum

AP -- The billionaire owner of Tesla Motors is giving $1 million to a New York museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of the inventor who inspired its name.

The Tesla Science Center announced Elon Musk's donation on what would have been Nikola Tesla's 158th birthday.

The museum said Thursday that Musk will also install a Tesla supercharging station.

The museum is being built on the 16-acre site of Tesla's Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham Long Island. The Serbian scientist began an unfinished project there to send messages and electricity around the world wirelessly.

Tesla is known for his work with alternating current and experiments with X-rays.

Musk co-founded PayPal and also runs space contractor SpaceX. His donation comes after a request from Tesla fan and museum backer Matthew...  (read more)

Submitted Jul 13, 2014 By:

Why Crossovers Conquered the American Highway

The Atlantic -- Something extraordinary is happening in the American automobile market. A new style of vehicle is taking over the supermarket parking lots, rural highways, and city streets. It's part SUV, part car, part minivan: a mutt of a vehicle.

People call them crossovers, and they've grown from an interesting experiment by Toyota, Honda, and Subaru in the mid-1990s into the biggest thing in the car business since the sedan, which most people know simply as "the car."

What does that change look like? Recently, I pulled into a hotel parking lot in Colorado. There were 24 parking spaces—and slotted into each and every one was a crossover. [...]

These days, three times as many crossovers are sold as SUVs and minivans combined.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 13, 2014 By:

Birmingham gas station offers classic gas prices for classic cars

THE DETROIT NEWS -- Vintage car owners lined up at the Birmingham Mobil gas station Friday morning for gas prices dating back to the 1950s and '60s. The offer, sponsored by Hagerty Insurance, was in celebration of National Collector Car Appreciation Day. Drivers paid whatever the price for gas was in the year their car was made.

Birmingham — What do you get when you combine classic cars with classic gas prices?

A traffic jam of classic proportions.

Cruisers lined up to gas up at a the Birmingham Mobil gas station at 36101 Woodward Riday morning for gas prices dating back to the 1950s and 60s.

The low-cost, high-octane offer was part of National Collector Car Appreciation Day sponsored by Hagerty Insurance, which specializes in insurance for classic and collectible cars, motorcycles and boats.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 13, 2014 By:

Don't Expect the Federal Government to Add to the Oil Boom

The Motley Fool -- A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that the production of fossil fuels from federal lands fell in 2013 (the latest reporting period). This is a continuation of a long-term decline evident since at least 2003 (the earliest reporting period).

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of the Interior
Note: The federal fiscal year runs October 1-September 30. NGPL denotes natural gas plant liquids.

All fossil fuels from federal lands down for the reporting period
The decline is evident for all fossil fuels production from federal lands except for a slight 1% increase in crude oil production from 2012-2013 (following an overall decline of 11% since 2003). Total fossil fuels production from federal lands has declined 21% since 2003 with nea  (read more)

Submitted Jul 13, 2014 By:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Oil price falls 2 percent, biggest drop since April

ap -- Wholesale gasoline fell 4.9 cents to close at $2.909 a gallon.

The price of oil plunged 2 percent Friday, the largest one-day drop since April, as Libyan oil appears poised to return to the market while global demand looks to be muted.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery fell $2.10 cents to close at $100.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 3.1 percent this week, and is down $4.54 a barrel, or 4.3 percent, so far in July.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refiners, fell $2.01 to close at $106.66 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Oil prices shot up in June to a 10-month high over concerns that violence in Iraq might disrupt supplies from OPECs second-largest exporter. Prices then drifted lower over the past two weeks as the a  (read more)

Submitted Jul 12, 2014 By:

The race for ‘cheap’ has gone too far

Motor Mouth -- The Nissan Micra features such retrograde technologies as a 4-speed automatic transmission and roll-up windows. Nothing about the Micra is new, but, with a starting price of $9,998, nobody shopping basic transportation cares

When did we in N Am become members of the Third World? Are we not the hot bed of vehicular development, cost-reduced because we the rich have paid the up-front costs? When exactly did we become the repository for the hand-me-down and bargain basement?

Nissan is abandoning the modern, fully featured mid-sized Frontier truck is because the segment simply cannot sustain the increased prices

And Nissan’s aggressive pricing does have the industry all atwitter

Competing car companies have all come up with their “counter Micra” strategy. Mitsubishi’s Mirage has barely hi  (read more)

Submitted Jul 12, 2014 By:

U.S. Oil Prices at Lowest in Nearly Two Months -- U.S. oil prices fell to the lowest level in almost two months on Friday as signs of abundant supplies spurred investors to resume selling.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery fell $2.10, or 2%, to $100.83 a barrel, the lowest closing price since May 12 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices had climbed Thursday after falling for nine straight sessions, but Friday's drop erased those gains. Brent crude for August fell $2.01, or 1.8%, to $106.66 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Friday's drop in the Nymex crude contract was the largest since April 22.

Libya's largest oil field resumed production this week after protesters ended a four-month strike, triggering expectations of a bloated global supply. The 340,000-barrels-a-day Sharara field could bring Libya's oil produc  (read more)

Submitted Jul 12, 2014 By:

4 Reasons Americans Aren't Buying Volkswagens Anymore

Business Insider -- Volkswagen recently announced that its U.S. auto sales dropped by a staggering 22% in June. This will mark the fourth time in the last six months that the brand has experienced a double-digit fall in sales. In that same time, its stock is down more than 5%.

Even though Volkswagen has sold more that 3 million cars worldwide so far this year, fewer than 180,000 of them were in the U.S.

As Volkswagen Group, now the second-largest automaker in the world, continues to experience worldwide growth, it is troubling that its most prominent mass-market brand is having a hard time in one of its most important markets.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 12, 2014 By:

EPA Fast Becoming The Green IRS

Investors Business Daily -- Big Government: The EPA is now claiming the authority to bypass courts and, on its own, garnish the paychecks and attach the assets of those it accuses of violating its rules. And, as with the IRS, its hard drives also crash.

The Environmental Protection Agency's insatiable lust for power has now gone beyond being the pen and the phone for President Obama's climate change, bypassing both the Constitution and the Congress in enacting rules and regulations that the American people and their representatives did not enact or even support.

Through an announcement in the Federal Register, the agency is claiming that existing federal law allows it "to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order." It claims such autho  (read more)

Submitted Jul 12, 2014 By:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Why China’s mood is souring on Canada’s oil patch

Financial Post -- Barely 2 years since the national outcry over China’s aggressive push into Canada’s oil patch, some of the major acquisitions are looking messy to hopeless

Instead of reaping the rewards of their first big step out into a free market oil industry, Chinese investors seem more focused on cutting costs and bailing out. Scores of executives have been fired

Some blame Ottawa’s more restrictive foreign ownership rules for the subsequent Chinese investment chill. But China’s sour mood has more to do with bitterness over the high prices paid, frustrations with long timelines to turn resources into production and Canada’s difficult operating environment

The change in mood is having an impact. Among the companies feeling the brunt is Athabasca Oil, which is awaiting a $1.23B payout from PetroChin  (read more)

Submitted Jul 11, 2014 By:

TX/ND/PA: The U.S. Axis Of Energy Independence

Forbes -- As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence on Friday, it would also be appropriate to take a moment to celebrate those states who are currently leading our nation down the path towards energy independence. No issue facing America today is more important than where we will continue to access sources of abundant and affordable energy.

Energy heats and cools our homes and office buildings, fuels the automobiles that get us to work, facilitates the growing and transport of the food that sustains us, serves as the feed stock for thousands of products that make our daily lives more convenient and raise our standard of living. It is literally the life blood of our economy, and has been for more than 150 years.

For too many years, our country has found itself dependent  (read more)

Submitted Jul 11, 2014 By:

Propane reserve considered -- America is awash in propane, a by- product of booming oil and natural gas production. Yet getting it to markets at home and abroad is challenging and controversial.

Long a niche in the energy sector, propane today is sexy. Record exports and supply disruptions this past winter have refocused attention on propane after prices went through the roof for consumers, businesses and farmers alike.

Congress and the Obama administration are studying a possible strategic propane reserve to function like the ones for crude oil and home heating oil. Efforts to create additional private-sector propane storage are resisted at the local and state levels.

"If they could do it with heating oil, they could certainly do it with propane," said Andrew Heaney, chief executive of, a national...  (read more)

Submitted Jul 11, 2014 By:


KTRK-TV (ABC 13 in Houston) -- At first Chevron told us they did not know what the problem was with the gas; now we know and we also know there are more than 50 people who had trouble with the fuel.

According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, the agency that inspects gasoline across the state, Chevron premium fuel had unwashed gum content in it.

The state says unwashed gum content leads to sticking in valve and deposits in injectors and can cause damage to some engines. The problem was first reported to the company July 2 and Chevron than stopped selling the fuel.

Chevron tells the state that it now has 70 claims over the fuel and is now working with drivers to resolve the problems. The state is also now going to test the tanks at the stations that sold the bad fuel.
 (read more)

Submitted Jul 11, 2014 By:

U.S. Gasoline Reserve to Be Ready for Peak of Hurricane Season

Reuters -- The U.S. government will have its planned gasoline stockpile for the Northeast region in place in time to respond to possible supply disruptions at the height of the 2014 hurricane season, the Energy Department said on Thursday.

Earlier this year, the department announced creation of the million-barrel gasoline reserve, which was deemed necessary after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 left many motorists on the East Coast without fuel.

Contracts to purchase and store the gasoline have already been awarded, with 800,000 barrels of gasoline set to be delivered to storage facilities by Aug. 1 and 200,000 barrels of gasoline set to be delivered prior to Sept. 1.

The department did not specify which companies had been awarded the contracts.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 11, 2014 By:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters

The Washington Times -- The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and hitting individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules, including recently slapping a $75,000 fine on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property. SEE ALSO: EDITORIAL: The EPA’s outrage in the barnyard “The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyomin  (read more)

Submitted Jul 10, 2014 By:

Gas prices could drop up to 25 cents by August

19kytx -- USA TODAY- Gasoline prices could fall up to 25 cents a gallon in parts of the USA within the next two weeks, thanks to slumping crude oil prices, weakening demand and robust supplies.

Now averaging $3.64 a gallon - vs $3.48 last July -prices could soon drop to $3.50, with some Southern states falling below $3, says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for price tracker

Crude oil prices are down again Wednesday, with benchmark West Texas crude off$$1.22 to $102.18 a barrel and Brent crude off 67 cents to $108.27 - a ninth straight daily drop.

"The tipping points were cooling tensions in Iraq and Hurricane Arthur come and being no big deal,'' says DeHaan. "Oil bulls had no where to go, and oil prices are higher than they should be and unjustified at this level."

With Ir  (read more)

Submitted Jul 10, 2014 By:

Oil on 2-week slide even with Mideast turmoil

ap -- Wholesale gasoline fell 3.5 cents to close at $2.938 a gallon.
EW YORK — The price of oil fell for the ninth straight day Wednesday as global supplies continue to flow despite unrest in the world’s most important oil-producing region.

The prolonged drop could lead to lower gasoline prices for U.S. drivers in the weeks ahead.

In the Middle East, the insurgency in Iraq is far from resolved, but hasn’t halted oil exports. The fighting now seems unlikely to spread to Iraq’s major oil fields. Tensions between Israel and Hamas have escalated in the past week, but aren’t threatening any major oil production.

On the supply side, Libyan crude exports appear poised to surge after an agreement between the government and local militias cleared the way for export terminals to open. And U.S. product  (read more)

Submitted Jul 10, 2014 By:


KTRK-TV (ABC 13 in Houston) -- There's an update on the problems with Chevron premium gasoline. We told you one Tomball man was afraid to drive his truck after the company suddenly stopped selling premium; now another driver says his car's engine was ruined by the gas. In an Eyewitness News exclusive, Chevron is now promising to make things right.

The signs were still on some gas stations on Wednesday told telling the stations cannot sell premium or mid-grade fuel, and while Chevron has not said what's wrong with the gas, one driver tells us it ruined his cars engine.

This is not Jamal Caliste's Subaru, his car is in the shop with a ruined engine.

"He said there was something in the gas that totaled my engine," said Caliste.
 (read more)

Submitted Jul 10, 2014 By:

Now’s Your Chance to Snag Your Very Own Harrier Hover Plane

Wired -- If you’ve always wanted to own a hover plane but aren’t actually in the military, here’s your chance. A Harrier jump jet goes up for auction later this month, and it won’t take much to get it flying again.

The Harrier, developed by the British in the 1960s and later embraced by Marine Corps, is best known for its ability to hover like a helicopter. The jet’s engine pumps air through four nozzles, which rotate to propel the plane forward or straight up. That allows for very short takeoffs and vertical landings, so the plane doesn’t need a long runway to operate. It’s among the coolest, most ingenious aircraft ever designed. It’s also a bitch to fly.

The plane in question, serial number XZ132, was built in 1976 by Hawker Siddeley for the British Royal Air Force.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 10, 2014 By: