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Ride-sharing regulations a 'grey zone,' Uber GM says as more drivers plead guilty

Ottawa Citizen -- Two more Uber drivers pleaded guilty in an Ottawa court Thursday to driving unlicensed taxis even as Uber’s general manager for Ontario said he believes regulations around ride-sharing services are a “grey zone” and that Uber’s services aren’t illegal.

Wilmond Celiba and Sedik Said were each fined $400 after reaching plea deals with the city in which a second charge of operating an unlicensed taxi was withdrawn. The two Uber drivers were among eight on the docket at the provincial offences court Thursday. The city withdrew charges entirely against a third driver, Hashim Naziri, because the city bylaw officer didn’t sign the ticket. Five other drivers’ cases were adjourned until April 23.

The drivers fined Thursday are among 25 that the city said it has charged since Uber launched its rid  (go to article)

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Other Passengers, Not Phones, The Biggest Distraction In Crashes For Teen Drivers

CBS Chicago -- In 15 percent of the crashes, the driver was simply interacting with one or more passengers. Cell phone use, from talking to texting, was to blame in 12 percent of the incidents. Just fiddling around in the car – looking at something from the radio to a book – was to blame 10 percent of the time. Even just singing in the car led to accidents 6 percent of the time.  (go to article)

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Americans consuming least amount of gasoline since the 80's

GasBuddy Blog -- A study out by the University of Michigan boldly claims that Americans are consuming the least amount of gasoline since tracking began in 1984.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study by Michael Sivak said average fuel consumption by U.S. motorists dropped in 2013 to its lowest level since 1984, the first year data was recorded.

The drop is astounding, as consumption now stands some 14 to 19 percent lower than when it peaked in 2004, said Sivak. The numbers shows that in 2013 the amount of fuel consumed per person was about 392 gallons, while overall households consumed an average of just over 1,000 gallons- declines of 17 percent and 19 percent, respectively, since 2004- when numbers peaked. Overall consumption by vehicle dropped to 524 gallons while gallons per driver dropped to 583 gallons....  (go to article)

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Bridge collapse reported on interstate in Central Texas

AP -- SALADO, Texas (AP) — Emergency crews are responding to a reported bridge collapse along an interstate in Central Texas.

The Bell County Sheriff's Department says the accident happened late Thursday morning along Interstate 35 in Salado (suh-LAY'-doh), about 40 miles north of Austin.

Lt. Donnie Adams says traffic has been halted in both directions. Adams says he didn't immediately have additional details on possible injuries or what caused the accident.

The Texas Department of Transportation had no immediate information on the incident.  (go to article)

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Has your car been recalled? Eight questions to ask.

The Christian Science Monitor -- Over 60 million cars were recalled in the United States during 2014, more than ever before. There were a total of 700 recall announcements made last year, meaning there were nearly two recall announcements each day.

Though 2015 has, thus far, not had any of the massive recall numbers of 2014, a few weeks ago Kia recalled over 200,000 vehicles while Ford announced a recall just days ago that affects 220,000 models. This all means it's time to refresh our memory on just how car recalls work — and what you should do if your car is affected by one.
 (go to article)

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Auto fleet fuel efficiency rises in ’14

Detroit News -- The fuel efficiency of the nation’s cars and trucks is still rising but the pace of gas-saving improvements is slowing, and automakers are raising concerns that people won't buy enough fuel-sipping models to meet tough government requirements.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in its latest report on fuel efficiency that overall, vehicles that will be sold for model-year 2014 are estimated to be just 0.1 mile per gallon better — at 24.2 mpg in real-world fuel efficiency — than the overall average of all the 2013 model-year vehicles sold.

In contrast, 2013 vehicles on average got 0.5 mpg better than 2012 models, and 2012 vehicles got 1.2 mpg better than 2011 cars.

“These findings are a terrific early success story for President Obama’s historic effort to reduce the pollution that  (go to article)

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Why Gas Could Plunge Below $2 a Gallon This Summer

AOL -- The price of gasoline has plunged 30 percent in the past year to $2.45 a gallon nationwide, giving major relief to American consumers. Plunging oil prices have driven the drop and have given a reprieve to consumers who have been paying nearly $4 a gallon for gas for most of the past four years.  (go to article)

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'Mr. Pothole' Mark Morrell pushes for World Pothole Day on March 25

CBC News -- If Mark Morrell — who goes by the moniker Mr. Pothole — gets his way, March 25, would be declared World Pothole Day.

"Everyone has them in their local streets and local highways and when they're dangerous, then you report them to authorities," Morrell, a U.K. resident, told Daybreak North's Carolina de Ryk.

"Then they don't do anything and then you have to get the police involved. And I thought, 'I'm not prepared to live in a society that accepts that.'"

Morrell worked for more than 25 years in road structures and reinstatement, and has studied roads around the world including Canada

"To some people they're an annoyance. To some people they cost them quite a few buck in terms of paying out for repairs.

"But unfortunately I have met some families of some cyclists who were killed …. so  (go to article)

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U.S. ethanol exports in 2014 reach highest level since 2011

EIA -- According to EIA monthly supply data through December 2014, which EIA released in late February, U.S. exports of fuel ethanol in 2014 reached their second-highest level at a total of 826 million gallons. This level was second only to the 1.2 billion gallons exported during 2011 and 33% more than exports of fuel ethanol in 2013. Similarly, U.S. imports of ethanol, which totaled approximately 377 million gallons during 2013, fell by 81% to a total of 73 million gallons in 2014, their lowest annual level since 2010. As a result, the United States was a net exporter of fuel ethanol for the fifth consecutive year and exported the fuel to 37 different countries in 2014.

In the United States, ethanol is primarily used as a blending component in the production of motor gasoline (mainly blended in  (go to article)

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Gasoline specification changes and price effects

EIA -- While the vernal equinox on March 20th marks the first official day of spring, the transition from winter-grade gasoline to spring-grade gasoline, an intermediate step in the shift to summer-grade gasoline, began much earlier. The transition occurs along the gasoline supply chain, from refineries to retail outlets, and affects spot, wholesale and retail gasoline prices because the cost to manufacture spring and summer-grade gasoline is higher than the cost to manufacture gasoline used in the winter.

Federal and state environmental regulations specify the properties of finished gasoline that can be sold at retail stations across the United States. Many specifications, like octane rating, remain constant from season to season. However, Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), a measure of how easily petr  (go to article)

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Is Yemen the new catalyst for oil?

CNBC -- Oil prices ratcheted up on Thursday on news that Saudi Arabia launched a military operation in neighboring Yemen, however analysts remain skeptical that geopolitical tensions will sustain the rally.

Brent crude oil futures rose almost 6 percent to as high as $59.71 a barrel, before settling around $58.30.
 (go to article)

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Idaho bill raises gas tax, cuts grocery sales tax and credit

The Spokesman-Review -- BOISE – Idaho House Republican leaders introduced complicated legislation Wednesday to make big changes in Idaho’s tax system – lowering the top income tax rate, removing the sales tax from groceries and raising the gas tax by 7 cents a gallon.

The sweeping proposal was introduced just two days before lawmakers had hoped to adjourn their session this year. They acknowledged it will go at least into next week.

House Speaker Scott Bedke said the tax bill, along with other measures that are now moving forward, matches his initial goals for this year’s legislative session: to make significant improvements in education and in transportation infrastructure, and to make Idaho more attractive to businesses. The House already has endorsed a $125 million, five-year plan to boost teacher pay  (go to article)

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Superhighway: Russian official proposes road that could connect London to NYC

Fox News -- One of Russia's most powerful tycoons and a close pal of President Vladimir Putin has proposed a long and winding road that theoretically could connect Great Britain to Alaska, via Mother Russia. And while a nearly 13,000-mile highway sounds like a stretch – a really long stretch – the major roadblock is likely money, not feasibility.  (go to article)

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Temporary closing of steel mill shocks workers, Granite City

St Louis Post-Dispatch -- The “temporary” closing of United States Steel’s Granite City Works, announced Wednesday, sent a wave of worry through 2,000 soon-to-be-laid-off steelworkers and a city that depends on its mill.

“It’s been the heart and soul of this community,” Granite City schools Superintendent Jim Greenwald said.

The move comes as tumbling oil prices hit the country’s second-largest steelmaker hard. Much of Granite City’s steel is used to make pipe for the oil industry at U.S. Steel’s Lone Star Tubular plant in Texas, and demand for drilling pipe is falling fast.  (go to article)

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Ready for the Ford / Petty Garage 627-hp Mustang GT?

GasBuddy Blog -- Ford Motor Company and Petty’s Garage are teaming up to build a new 627-horsepower* Mustang GT – a limited-edition fastback inspired by the popular Petty’s Garage Mustang GT on display at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.“We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about our Petty’s Garage Mustang GT displayed at the SEMA show,” said Jeff Whaley, Petty’s Garage COO. “With so much interest, we began to explore the possibility of building a limited run of the Petty’s Garage Mustang GT.”Two versions of the Petty’s Garage Mustang GT will be built this year; the Stage 1 version will be limited to 100 units, while the even more exclusive Stage 2 version will total 43 units.  Are you ready for this? ...  (go to article)

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Review: Camry Hybrid is a family car winner

Salt Lake Tribune -- The roomy, fuel-sipping Toyota Camry Hybrid family sedan gets better for 2015 with more appealing exterior styling, upgraded interior, improved ride and handling and quieter passenger cabin.

Coming just three years after the launch of the current generation Camry Hybrid, the changes are more than expected for a mid-cycle refresh of a mid-size sedan. They better position the Camry Hybrid against stylish-looking competitors such as the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans.

Consumer Reports lists the Camry Hybrid as a recommended buy, noting that predicted reliability is better than average.
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Why Bombing This Tiny Oil Producer Is Roiling the Energy Market

BloombergBusiness -- While Yemen contributes less than 0.2 percent of global oil output its location puts it near the center of world energy trade.

The nation shares a border with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter and sits on one side of a shipping chokepoint used by crude tankers heading West from the Persian Gulf. Global oil prices jumped more than 5 percent on Thursday after regional powers began bombing rebel targets in the country that produced less than Denmark in 2013.

Yemen’s government has collapsed in the face of an offensive by rebels known as Houthis prompting airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia the biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Gulf’s main Sunni Muslim power says the Houthis are tools of its Shiite rival Iran another OPEC member and halt...  (go to article)

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Proposal would outlaw holding cellphone while driving in NC

WRAL -Channel 5 - Raleigh -- A state lawmaker wants to close a loophole that makes it very difficult for law enforcement officers to enforce North Carolina's ban on texting while driving.

North Carolina is one of 40 states that have laws against texting while driving. Yet, people still send and read text messages behind the wheel, and punishing them isn't so easy.

A WRAL Investigates report last July found that 1,458 people were cited with texting while driving in Wake County in 2013. Of the 1,367 cases disposed of in the county that year in Wake County, fewer than half resulted in drivers paying the $290 in fines and court costs. Many drivers fought their tickets and won.

The current law applies only to moving vehicles – drivers stopped at a red light can text and email – but drivers are still allowed to type ...  (go to article)

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Oil prices surge after Saudi air strikes in Yemen

Reuters -- Brent crude oil prices shot up nearly 6 percent on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies began a military operation in Yemen, although Asian importers said they were not immediately worried about supply disruptions.

The strike against Houthi rebels, who have driven the president from Yemen's capital Sanaa, could stoke concerns about the security of oil shipments from the Middle East.

Oil prices jumped as traders and importers said they were worried the Saudi attack was a sign that fighting in the oil-rich Middle East was spreading and out of control.


Brent crude oil futures rose as high as $59.71 a barrel, up almost 6 percent since their last settlement, before dipping back to $57.80 a barrel at 0402 GMT, still up $1.32. U.S. crude was up $1.64 at $50.85 a barrel  (go to article)

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Cars Mysteriously Break Down After Drivers Fill Up at New Jersey Gas Station

NBC New York -- Drivers filling up their tanks at a New Jersey gas station say their cars are getting damaged and they suspect it has to do with what's being pumped out of the gas lines.

Police in Hopatcong say 10 drivers have reported problems after filling up at the Enrite gas station. Drivers continued to pull up all evening Wednesday to tell NBC 4 New York how their cars have broken down after they filled up there.

Marlene Caprio said her car had to be towed from Bergen County after it was damaged extensively. Leah Keyes said her brand-new car "totally died."

Mechanic Andrew Muns recounted another customer's experience: "It wouldn't start. She said, 'I went to hit the gas and it was bucking and kept stalling and shutting off.'"

The drivers said their mechanics told them their gas tanks were loaded  (go to article)

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How changing gas prices impact local businesses

Daily Bulletin -- With new drilling technologies playing a major role in an oversupply of crude worldwide, the resulting lower cost of oil and gas in recent months have brought both benefits and negative impacts to businesses across the spectrum of the regional economy.

Refined gasoline prices did rise dramatically in California over the course of February and into March, primarily from supply issues stemming from the shut-down of two refineries — the first due to a strike at the Tesoro Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez, and the other after an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance.

“There’s a narrow balance between supply and demand, and if something happens with supply, you get an immediate price impact,” said David Hackett, president of the Irvine-based energy consulting company Stillwate  (go to article)

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North Dakota might challenge new federal fracking rule

FuelFix -- North Dakota is considering challenging a new federal fracking rule for US government lands.

The Obama administration is requiring companies that drill for oil and gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing drilling technique. A final rule released Friday also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids. The US Bureau of Land Management rule, under consideration for more than three years, takes effect in June.

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said the rule is an overreach, and Gov. Jack Dalrymple said it could interfere with the work of the state’s Water Commission and Health Department.

“We need to take action,” he said during a Tuesday meeting of the state Industrial Commission...
 (go to article)

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Mexico Expects U.S. Oil Swap, Another Crack in Crude Export Ban

Reuters -- Mexican state oil firm Pemex expects imminent approval from the U.S. Commerce Department to allow it to swap up to 100,000 barrels of heavy crude for a similar amount of lighter U.S. oil, what could be the latest milestone toward loosening the four-decades old ban on exporting U.S. oil.

"Our expectation is that it happens soon," Jose Manuel Carrera, CEO of Pemex's commercial arm P.M.I. Comercio Internacional, said in an interview Friday. "I would like to see the approval tomorrow, or I would have liked to see it yesterday, but the truth is that this is a permit that the United States unilaterally approves."

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, which oversees the process, on Wednesday declined to comment on the application.

The Mexican company hopes swaps will pave  (go to article)

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US crude export debate focuses on East Coast refiners

Platts -- The debate over a potential shift in US restrictions on crude exports has often been characterized as a clash between North Dakota and Texas producers eager to get a glut of light oil onto the world market and refiners unwilling to lose a new domestic price advantage.

But only a "small subset of refiners" are benefitting from these low light oil prices, according to Kenneth Medlock, senior director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

In fact, the ongoing debate has created an aura of uncertainty and stasis throughout the oil industry, as producers have scaled back drilling without access to the world market and refiners have been reticent to invest in refinery upgrades which could prove futile if widespread exports are allowed, Medlock  (go to article)

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Texas House approves bill to ban texting while driving

ABC 13 (KTRK-TV in Houston)/AP -- The Texas House has approved a statewide ban on texting while driving, advancing a plan that cleared the Legislature previously but fell victim to a gubernatorial veto - and may face a similar fate this time.

Sponsored by Midland Republican and former House Speaker Tom Craddick, the bill allows police to stop drivers suspected of texting. It passed 102-40 Wednesday, after hours of debate.

Critics say it infringes on personal liberty and is unnecessary since 38 local ordinances, affecting most Texans, are already in place.

Others worry it creates a "slippery slope," allowing police to stop virtually anyone without proof of texting.

Lawmakers approved a statewide texting ban in 2011, but then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it.
 (go to article)

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On the Road In Mercedes Sci-Fi Self-Driving Car of 2030

Yahoo! Autos/Motoramic -- On a pre-programmed course in an old airfield in Alameda, Calif., a silverfish-shaped car meanders through a cardboard city full of frozen people and cut-out trees. Here at the edge of Silicon Valley, looking back across the bay at the San Francisco skyline and just minutes from Mercedes-Benz’s Research facility in Sunnyvale, the F 015 “Luxury In Motion” autonomous prototype vehicle makes its way — with the driver's seat comfortably swiveled 180 degrees to face backwards.

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi film, but this is Mercedes-Benz’s vision of the future — the year 2030 to be precise. The F 015 concept is quite literally a living room on wheels. Feel like driving? Swivel your chair and take control of the steering wheel that folds neatly away when not in use.  (go to article)

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Gatineau police clip wings of airborne auto daredevil

Ottawa Citizen -- Gatineau police have tracked down a would-be daredevil whose videotaped poor man’s Evel Knievel car jump over a snowbank briefly excited the social universe earlier this month.

Police said the digital video of the man’s motorized launch of a Toyota Tercel over a snowbank at Baie McLaurin, in Gatineau’s far east end, was racking up hits on social media for a few weeks at the beginning of the month.

The driver of the vehicle hit the snow ramp at speed, got a few metres of air time, crashed into some piled-up snow and skidded to a stop metres away.

Once alerted to the digital show, Gatineau police were able to track down the driver. The Gatineau man, 21, was charged with endangering life or property and fined $1,293, in addition to racking up four demerits on his driving record.
 (go to article)

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States are the best fracking watchdogs

Detroit News -- The rules issued last week by the Obama administration regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands should serve as fair warning to those states like Michigan that have already enacted adequate standards to regulate the extraction of oil and natural gas.

Department of the Interior regulations will mainly standardize wastewater disposal and require companies to disclose what chemicals they're using to help blast oil and natural gas from rock formations.

Michigan and most other states already have their own standards to ensure energy, oil and gas companies use the technology safely and with as little effect on the environment as possible.

And since just 11 percent of the natural gas and 5 percent of the oil consumed by the U.S. comes from drilling on federal lands, the states already  (go to article)

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Michigan auto insurance fee to drop $36 a vehicle

Detroit News -- Michigan’s special assessment on auto insurance policies will drop $36 per vehicle in the next fiscal year to $150, the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association said Wednesday.

The assessment, used to cover the costs of treatment for accident victims who suffer profound injuries, was $186 per vehicle the last two fiscal years. The new assessment starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2016.

All auto insurance companies operating in Michigan are required to pay the assessment. It’s added to auto insurance premiums paid under Michigan’s unique no-fault auto insurance law requiring unlimited lifetime coverage for medical expenses resulting from auto accidents.

Michigan is the only state to require drivers to purchase unlimited personal injury coverage. The state with the next highest manda  (go to article)

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Crude settles up 3.6% on weak dollar, Yemen conflict

Reuters -- U.S. crude settled 3.6 percent up at $49.21 a barrel on Wednesday as a weaker dollar, fighting in Yemen and speculative buying boosted prices in spite of U.S. inventories building to record highs for an 11th week.

The dollar fell after disappointing U.S. durable goods orders for February.
 (go to article)

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Analyst sees little chance oil export ban will end soon

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- SAN ANTONIO — The 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports isn’t likely to end soon because other issues are more likely to command policymakers’ attention, energy analyst Harold “Skip” York told a San Antonio audience this week.  (go to article)

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Oil up 3 percent on weak dollar, Yemen conflict and speculative buying

Yahoo -- Oil rallied more than 3 percent on Wednesday as a weaker dollar, fighting in Yemen and speculative buying boosted crude prices in spite of U.S. inventories building to record highs for an 11th week.

The dollar (.DXY) fell after disappointing U.S. durable goods orders for February. A weaker dollar makes commodities denominated in the greenback cheaper for holders of other currencies, typically boosting demand for such raw materials. [USD/]

The dollar also fell against the euro (EUR=) after Europe's largest economy Germany reported that its business morale rose for a fifth month in a row in March, hitting the highest since July 2014. In France, business morale peaked at near 3-year highs.
U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, (CLc1) gained $1.74 to $49.25.  (go to article)

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2015 Jeep Wrangler Sport offers consumers a curious paradox

GasBuddy Blog -- It's been proven over and over... Consumers who do their research rarely regret their purchasing decision especially when it comes to the new car they've just bought.

So, what does one make of the recent news on the 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sport?  

One report from Insure.com says it's the least expensive new vehicle to insure in 2015...
And yet, another report by 24/7 Wall St., a financial publication, based on data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Consumer Reports, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration and JD Power, lists it among the "most dangerous" vehicles in the U.S.  What gives?...  (go to article)

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Oil price downturn will persist, says Conference Board of Canada

Canadian Press -- The Conference Board of Canada has some bad news for those hoping the crude oil downturn will be short-lived.

In its latest report, the Ottawa-based think tank says the industry is unlikely to bounce back as quickly this time as it did after the last major drop in 2008 and 2009.

Crude prices saw a much more drastic drop the last time around—touching records above $140 and lows around $33 in a half-year span—but by 2011, were back above $100.

This time, the board says prices aren’t likely to climb above $80 in the foreseeable future, thanks to drilling technology that has unlocked huge volumes from U.S. tight oil formations.

The outlook through 2019 is about $30 below what the board had forecast during the first quarter of 2014.

The Conference Board predicts revenues will drop by 38%  (go to article)

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Why parking spaces shouldn’t always be wasted on cars

Washington Post -- For the last few years, Philadelphia has converted a handful of parking spots in front of neighborhood businesses into temporary "parklets" no bigger than the space that might fit one or two cars (these tiny interventions are now popular in a lot of cities). Records from adjacent businesses show sales went up about 20 percent immediately after the parks were installed, relative to right beforehand.  (go to article)

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Assembled data shows how and where refinery workers continue to die

THE TEXAS TRIBUNE -- How many people die at oil refineries each year?

Longstanding federal record-keeping practices make it incredibly tough to answer that simple question.

The public can easily search data at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which records deaths and injuries reported across all industries. But typing the code for "Petroleum Refining" - 2911 - into the agency's query tool only reveals a small fraction of all who died at refineries.
 (go to article)

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New Ford car automatically obeys speed limits

CNN -- Ford (F) says that the newest edition of its S-Max car has "a new technology that scans traffic signs and adjusts the throttle to help drivers stay within legal speed limits and avoid fines."

The new system, called the intelligent speed limiter, was unveiled by Ford of Europe in Germany on Tuesday. But Ford's European division said the technology will be available worldwide.

The S-Max can read signs with its traffic sign recognition system and adjusts for speed accordingly. And it doesn't need to pull down the brake to slow down the car.

"The system does not apply the brakes but smoothly controls engine torque by electronically adjusting the amount of fuel delivered," the company said in a press release.

But the fun isn't completely over for speedsters.

"Drivers can temporarily over  (go to article)

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Paris car ban stopped after one day

The Guardian -- French ministers claim traffic experiment is a success after just 24 hours, saying pollution levels are within safe limit again  (go to article)

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U.S. drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

FuelFix.com -- NEW YORK (AP) — OPEC and lower global oil prices delivered a one-two punch to the 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 furiously 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, 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 last decade and brought ab  (go to article)

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As Obama administration weighs Arctic drilling, Shell moves rigs to region

FuelFix.com -- WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is set to announce within days whether it will reaffirm a 7-year-old government auction of oil leases in the Chukchi Sea — a decision critical to Shell’s plans to resume drilling in those Arctic waters this summer.

Even before the pending decision, Shell Oil Co., has begun moving its drilling rigs to the region, marking the clearest sign yet that the firm expects to be boring new Arctic wells this summer.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is tasked with deciding whether to affirm, modify or void the 2008 lease sale at which Shell spent $2.1 billion buying its existing drilling leases, following years of legal challenges to the auction.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recommended Jewell validate the 2008 Chukchi Sea auction and all of the oil and  (go to article)

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Electric cars could boost CO2 emissions in some provinces

CBC -- Trying to go green by replacing your gas guzzler with an electric car? In some provinces, that may actually be worse for the environment, a University of Toronto researcher says.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, electric cars generate more carbon over their lifetimes than gas-powered cars...

That's because those provinces generate much of their electricity by burning coal, so consuming more electricity – by charging your electric car battery, for instance – significantly boosts carbon emissions.

"So… literally, if you're living in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia, an electric car does not make you green?" asked Anna Maria Tremonti, host of The Current. "You're better off filling up at the pump?"

"You're better off filling up at the pump," Kennedy agreed  (go to article)

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Crude inventories spike again, gasoline inventories drop: EIA report

GasBuddy Blog -- The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 8.2 million barrels to a total of 466.7 million barrels. At 466.7 million barrels, inventories are 84.2 million barrels above last year (22.0%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.0 million barrels to 233.4 million barrels. At 233.4 million barrels, inventories are up 16.2 million barrels, or 7.5% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.0mb); Midwest (-2.1mb); Gulf Coast (+1.6mb); Rockies (-0.4mb); and West Coast (-0.1mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information lik  (go to article)

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Iran Has a Little Surprise for Oil Market

Bloomberg -- The U.S. and five other world powers are scheduled to resume talks with Iran this week, offering relief from sanctions on oil exports, shipping and financial transactions if the Islamic Republic curtails its nuclear program and allows inspections to verify compliance. If a deal is reached, the Persian Gulf nation could add its stockpiles into an oversupplied oil market where prices have fallen more than 50 percent since June.  (go to article)

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Chevrolet to offer 2016 Malibu hybrid

Detroit News -- The next generation 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will come with a hybrid version with fuel economy ratings estimated better than 45 miles per gallon combined city and highway, General Motors Co. said Wednesday.

The new midsize hybrid Malibu will compete with hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata — all of which GM said have lower combined fuel economy ratings than what the Malibu hybrid will have. The car also will compete with the Honda Accord Hybrid, which is rated at 47 mpg combined.

"We're bringing a hybrid to the midsize segment to compete," said Jesse Ortega, Chevrolet Malibu chief engineer. "We understand this is a very competitive, significant battle. But we think we're very well-armed for this battle."

For the 2013 model year, GM offered a more expensive  (go to article)

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$20 oil could become a reality: The looming storage crisis explained

Bloomberg News -- The basic problem is that too much oil is being pumped, and not enough is being used up. America is running out of places to store all of the excess crude. That’s a problem, and it could send prices  (go to article)

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Oil to reach $100 a barrel by end of 2016: Pickens

Reuters -- "I think you could very well be at $100 a barrel by the end of 2016," the 86-year-old billionaire and chair of BP Capital told an audience of about 100 at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.  (go to article)

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Why three has become a magic number for the U.S. economy

Bloomberg News - SAN FRANCISCO/HOUSTON -- The U.S. economy added 3.1 million jobs. Gasoline plunged below $3. As a result, driving topped 3 trillion miles for the first time in 7 years and is poised to climb higher this year.
The 33% slide at U.S. pumps, combined with an improving job market, touched off a national spending spree on SUVs, vacations and Christmas presents. Travel will rise another 2% this year, the biggest increase since 2004.
“A growing economy can increase driving as more people head to work. Driving to work is a lot easier knowing that gas prices are the lowest since 2009”
The average retail price for regular gasoline in the U.S. fell below $3 for the first time in 4 years in late October. Prices continued to sink, dragged down by a worldwide glut of oil, ending the year at $2.24. The average was $2.419 March 23  (go to article)

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Common-sense, low-cost fix for truck-train crashes rejected

Associated Press -- America's railroads want five more years to stop train wrecks using a high-tech system costing more than $9 billion.

But experts tell The Associated Press that it won't keep trains and trucks from crashing together unless both industries use a common-sense solution available right away: actually talking with each other before crossing into each other's territory.

Plenty of fingers have been pointed since an Amtrak train slammed into a massive tractor-trailer in North Carolina this month, injuring 55 people.
 (go to article)

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The 20 Million Barrels of Pure Profit Sitting in U.S. Oil Tanks

Bloomberg -- Just as Wall Street says the U.S. is running out of room to store oil, it turns out there’s another 20 million barrels of empty space.

Where? Right at the top of the tanks.
A supply glut has dragged U.S. crude for May delivery almost $10 a barrel below contracts a year out. This market structure, known as contango, has encouraged traders to shove the most oil in 80 years into storage so they can sell it for more in the future. The problem is, tanks are filling up, according to banks from Bank of America to Citigroup and Goldman Sachs Group.

That’s where the extra space comes in. There’s the normal “working” capacity. And then there’s “contingency” space, a buffer between the working storage and the tank tops that typically sits empty to keep oil from spilling out. The compa  (go to article)

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Distracted Driving A Factor In 60 Percent Of Teen Crashes

WABE-FM, 90.1, Atlanta -- Young men and women aren’t paying enough attention while behind the wheel.

That’s according to the largest research ever conducted into crash videos of teenage drivers.

A study from AAA shows distractions played a factor in nearly 60 percent of moderate-to-severe crashes involving teenage drivers.

The most common form of distraction was when the driver interacted with other passengers in the vehicle.

Using a cell phone came in a close second.

AAA reports teenagers have the highest crash rate of all demographics in the country.

“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible. The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater ...  (go to article)

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Alberta prepares to shut the taps as oil price ‘rollercoaster’ continues

Financial Post -- Just ahead of Thursday’s belt-tightening budget, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice announced a new way of managing the oil-rich province’s finances so that spending gets off the energy “rollercoaster” and revenue is more secure.

The change has been long called for, including by two new studies made public Tuesday, by the Fraser Institute and by the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, that are critical of the way the province handled its finances in the past.

With oil prices below the economic threshold needed by industry to make money and that the province requires to collect meaningful royalties, Mr. Prentice has the crisis he needs for meaningful change.

In a televised address Tuesday evening, he warned Albertans that spending cuts and health care premiums are coming, as  (go to article)

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