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The auto fraud squad: How Canadian insurance companies are trying to crack down on fake claims

Financial Post - TORONTO -- “We know of some entities who have about 50 different ways to defraud us,” says claims investigation supervisor Dave Nolan of Aviva Canada. “They try something new every day,” he said.
Nolan is but one supervisor of many crack teams in insurance companies across Canada, who have to sniff out the elaborate fake claims that are made after an accident. The business is lucrative for those who prevail – the “entities” often being body shops, tow-truck operators and health practitioners these days, not just your “Slippin’ Jimmy” (the fake fall in front of a car) any more.
That hits you right in your pocketbook. An estimated 15% of insurance premiums go toward covering fraudulent auto insurance claims.
In real numbers, this means $225 on an average auto insurance premium of $1,500 covers the cost  (go to article)

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Quebec artists draw up new front in battle against energy development

Financial Post - MONTREAL -- Quebecers love their artists. The likes of folk singer Kevin Parent, actor Roy Dupuis or playwright Robert Lepage are probably better known in some areas of la Belle province than, say, Taylor Swift or even Justin Bieber.

So when 200 members of Quebec’s arts community signed a petition this month calling for the provincial government to end all exploration and production of oil and gas in the province and to stop all transportation by boat, train or pipeline of oil and gas for exportation, it marked a new front in the growing opposition to energy development.

Until recently opposition has come from the usual suspects — environmentalists, left-wing militants and intellectuals. But increasingly vocal Quebec artists represent a new potential stumbling block in the way of the oil and gas ind  (go to article)

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Michigan voters weigh proposal to raise taxes for roadway fixes

Toledo Blade -- After years of unresolved wrangling over how Michigan should fund repairs for its crumbling road network, voters will have their say May 5 on a compromise solution that requires an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that raises the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent and triggers a roughly 10-cent-a-gallon tax increase for gasoline and diesel.

The change in Michigan’s tax on motor fuel is not actually part of the constitutional amendment, but legislation enacting it is tied to that amendment, under which gasoline and diesel would no longer be subject to sales tax in a package deal advanced by the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder.

Boosting the state’s gasoline tax from 19 cents per gallon to an initial 41.7 cents per gallon, and its tax on diesel fuel from 15 cents  (go to article)

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4 in critical condition in gas blast that closed both directions of Central California highway

Canadian Press -- FRESNO, Calif. - A large gas pipeline exploded into a tower of fire Friday in California, closing both directions of a major highway in the region and injuring at least 11 people, at least three of them critically, authorities said.

It was not clear what caused the explosion at the Fresno County Sheriff's gun range that brought traffic in the area to a halt. But authorities say a work crew that included jail inmates was working with heavy equipment at the time.

Four patients were being treated at Community Regional Medical Center's burn and trauma unit, spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell said. Three of them are in critical condition and one is in serious condition, she said.

 (go to article)

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How the Practice of Pricing Fuel with 9/10th of a Penny Got Started

TIFO -- The practice of pricing fuel with a fraction of a penny is thought to have started around the 1930s. While we can’t be sure who was the first to price fuel this way, it seems to have become relatively commonplace across the United States all the sudden around the same time. So what happened? In short- taxes and the Great Depression.

The United States Congress first implemented a $0.01 gas tax in 1932 as a temporary measure, putting that money towards reducing deficits acquired due to the Great Depression. The tax was supposed to expire in 1934, but, as so often happens, Congress voted to extend the tax and raise it by half a cent instead. The tax now sat at $0.015 per gallon of gas.
 (go to article)

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Godzilla named Tokyo tourism ambassador?

Washington Post -- Godzilla has opened his horrifying arms to welcome you warmly to Tokyo.

Yes, this giant reptile-like creature has been officially named a special resident and ambassador of tourism for the city’s Shinjuku ward. An actor in a rubber suit played the part during a ceremony Thursday, but unfortunately his claws weren’t made for grabbing awards, the Associated Press reported.

“Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan,” Shinjuku Mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi said of the new tourism ambassador, who is literally a monster.

Godzilla’s popularity is on the rise, following Gareth Edwards’s 2014 smash (ha ha) hit “Godzilla” and a Japanese-made reboot planned for next year. And it appears that officials are trying to take advantage of the marketing opportunity. A Godzilla-themed hotel, complete  (go to article)

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Use of multiple contractors could leave oil, gas operators open to hackers

TRIBLIVE -- In the vast network of data, drilling and pipes that's made Marcellus shale an international energy reserve, computer attacks pose a serious threat.

Hackers target energy companies all the time because of the information and technology involved, but the public rarely hears about it, said Paul Kurtz, CEO of TruSTAR Technology, a Washington startup that allows companies to share anonymous information about hacks. He and other cybersecurity experts said the risk from these attacks extends beyond losing information to opening opportunities for serious damage.

“It's quite easy for people to say, ‘It's not going to happen here' ” said Kurtz, who was White House senior director for critical infrastructure protection in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. “The problem is that...  (go to article)

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UAE and Saudi refineries in demand as conflict-hit Iraq and Yemen suffer outages

The National -- War-related outages at important refineries in Iraq and Yemen are helping to underpin regional demand for petrol and other products from two recently expanded plants in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

In Yemen, fighting has led to severe shortages of transport fuel. Television reports from various agencies over the weekend showed long queues at petrol stations in Yemeni cities, where prices have quadrupled in recent months as fighting has intensified.

On Thursday, the government-owned Aden Refinery Company, which operates a 130,000 barrels per day plant across the harbour in Little Aden, declared force majeure on its oil imports and exports, Reuters reported.

Fighting in Yemen is scaring off shippers, with at least four oil and natural gas tankers that were headed to Yemen being diverted...  (go to article)

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Activists in kayaks on horizon as Shell’s Arctic rig arrives at Washington port

Fuel Fix -- One of Shell’s chosen Arctic drilling rigs arrived in a Washington port on Friday, following a long journey from Malaysia marked by protests — and with the prospect of more to come along the Pacific Northwest.

The Transocean Polar Pioneer made it to its destination in Port Angeles, Wash., atop the heavy-lift ship Blue Marlin, which has been heaving it across the Pacific Ocean. Coast Guard crews escorted the Blue Marlin to its anchorage location in a harbor, where the rig is set to be unloaded and could remain for weeks before being towed to Seattle.

Activists opposed to Arctic drilling are preparing to greet the rig when it makes it to Emerald City, with some threatening a flotilla of kayaks to box the ship in.

Six protesters already scaled the ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, c  (go to article)

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Oil Spill Has Been Leaking Into Gulf for a Decade

Newsweek -- When Hurricane Ivan struck the Gulf of Mexico off of Louisiana in 2004, the force of the waves prompted a mudslide that toppled an offshore well platform owned by Taylor Energy. Since then, more than 10 years ago, oil from the undersea wells has been leaking into the Gulf unabated.

And the leak is far larger than reported.

According to an Associated Press investigation, recent U.S. Coast Guard figures show that the volume of the continual spillage is 20 times higher than figures originally put forth by Taylor Energy.

Taylor Energy for years reported that the volume the leak was declining: from 22 gallons per day in 2008, it was said to taper down to 12 gallons per day over the following five years. But the 2,300 pollution reports analyzed by the AP didn't match those figures.  (go to article)

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Greens face divide over Hillary Clinton and Keystone Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/

Politico -- Hillary Clinton is maintaining her years of silence on the Keystone XL pipeline — and environmental groups are increasingly divided on how hard they should push her to take a stand.

It’s a further sign that the never-ending pipeline drama will remain one of the biggest policy minefields facing Clinton’s White House campaign, even if President Barack Obama rejects the project in the coming weeks or months.

As secretary of state, Clinton spent four years presiding over the Obama administration’s still-unfinished review of the $8 billion Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, including repeated studies finding that Keystone wouldn’t significantly worsen greenhouse gas pollution. But like Obama, she has resisted pressure to offer her own opinion on the project until the review is done, aside from one  (go to article)

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OPEC’s War on Oil Prices Isn’t Just about Shale

Motley Fool -- A lot has been made of OPEC's decision last fall to keep its production steady when the market was oversaturated with oil. At the time the decision was viewed as a direct attack on its oil market rivals including Russia, Iran, and the U.S. Clearly, slowing down these rivals by upending oil prices was one of its goals, however, it wasn't the cartel's only goal. That's because another factor that sent oil prices down in the first place was weaker than expected demand growth for oil, particularly in Asia. OPEC knows that the cure for weak oil demand is a much lower oil price.

Shrinking market share

OPEC's control of the oil market was really being attacked on two fronts. The first battle was being waged on its control of a large portion of the oil market. For years it was able to leverage t  (go to article)

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OPEC Says US Oil Boom Will End This Year

Yahoo -- OPEC says the demand for oil – its oil – will rise during 2015 because the cartel is winning its price war against US shale producers by driving them out of business.
Higher global refinery runs, driven by increased [summer] seasonal demand, along with the improvement in refinery margins, are likely to increase demand for crude oil over the coming months,” the cartel said in its Monthly Market Report, issued, April 16.

OPEC forecasts demand at an average of 29.27 million barrels per day in the first quarter 2015, a rise of 80,000 bpd from its previous prediction made in its March report. At the same time, it said, the cartel’s own total output will increase by only 680,000 barrels per day, less than the previous expectation of 850,000 barrels per day, due to lower US and other non-OPEC pr  (go to article)

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Anti-Uber Montreal cabbies target taxi two-timers

CBC News -- Some Montreal cab drivers who don't like Uber have been using the popular ride-share app to track their colleagues who also drive for the car-sharing service.
According to a group of taxi drivers who convened in Old Montreal on Thursday, about 200 of the city's 4,500 cabs are used for Uber.
?One of the cabbies confronted fellow driver Redha Hassani: "You're cutting off the branch you're sitting on by bringing them clients."
Hassani said he understands his anti-Uber colleagues' point, but said they're fighting a losing battle.
If I stop doing it, he told the drivers who confronted him, there are 20 people behind me who will keep doing it.
"I don't have a choice, I have to support my family. I just bought a house for the comfort of my children. But now, I'm trying to stay afloat," Hassani sa  (go to article)

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The Golden Age Of Drag Racing Part 2

msn.com -- To quote the question we’ve been hearing ever since American Graffiti, where were you in ’62? For folks following drag racing 52 years ago, it didn’t really matter. Everywhere in America, there were big changes taking place. In 1962, Howard Johansen was advertising the first aftermarket aluminum heads for Chevrolets, perfected in his dual-engine Twin Bear. Race cars were defeated for possibly the last time by the motorcycles that once ruled Top Eliminator competition. Jet dragsters appeared, despite NHRA’s ban of all aircraft engines, to beat up on banned Top Fuelers in hugely popular match races. Before the end of this season, they were racing each other. A car painter named Prudhomme came out of nowhere to improbably set low e.t., top speed, and win the world’s biggest drag race,  (go to article)

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Fracking tanker struck by lightning explodes in spectacular fireball

Daily Mail -- A Colorado wastewater facility went up in flames on Friday after a fracking tanker was hit by lightning, setting off a series of explosions and oil fires.
Dale Lyman, a spokesman for the Greeley Fire Department, says firefighters were called to the site northeast of Greeley airport shortly after 1 p.m.
They are working with NGL Energy Partners, the company that owns the site, but had to wait for the explosion risk to subside so they could use fire suppression foam to extinguish the fire, Lyman told The Greeley Tribune.
Nearby homes were evacuated, however no injuries were reported.
The fire began when lightning struck a water storage tank, launching it into the air. It landed 60 feet from the site.
The water contained traces of hydrocarbons and petroleum as a result of hydraulic fracturin  (go to article)

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In plain sight: How the Marathassa oil spill took hours to find

The Globe and Mail -- 'We should have screamed like hell'

A fuel spill in Vancouver's picturesque English Bay has raised serious questions
about the federal government's ability to respond to a marine oil spill.

Around 4:45 p.m., the pair aboard Mr. Arntzen’s 21-ft sailboat spotted a large slick on the water, accompanied by the smell of fresh asphalt. It took them just 15 min of sailing to track the source to the bulk grain carrier MV Marathassa, which was at anchor in the bay after putting in to the Port of Vancouver to begin loading its cargo.

By then, the slick was half a kilometre long and 250 m wide, by Mr. O’Dea’s estimation. Beneath the blue sheen, he could see the water was thick with globules of oil.

Mr. O’Dea called 911 at 5:05 p.m. from his cell phone, and a Canadian Coast Guard official called  (go to article)

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New York woman fills town's potholes with pansies

FOX NEWS-AP -- An upstate New York woman has taken on the post-winter pothole problem in her hometown by filling in the eyesores with pansies.

After months of severe weather left the streets of Schenectady pocked with pavement craters and city public works crews scrambling to fix them, some residents began filling in the holes themselves.

Elaine Santore decided to take it a step further by dumping dirt and pansies into potholes on two streets. She told The Daily Gazette of Schenectady that she decided to plant the flowers to make a statement about the problem and to make people smile after what she called "a horrible winter."

Of the 10 holes she filled with flowers over three days starting Monday, Santore told The Associated Press on Friday that she believed all have now been fixed by city crews.  (go to article)

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Iraq says ISIS beaten in area south of key refinery

CBS-AP -- A senior Iraqi military official with the Salahuddin Command Center said Friday that Iraqi security forces had gained full control over a contested area south of the country's largest oil refinery.

General Ayad al-Lahabi told The Associated Press that the military, backed by divisions of the Popular Mobilization Forces and coalition airstrikes, gained control Friday of the towns of al-Malha and al-Mazraah, located about 1.6 miles south of the Beiji oil refinery, killing at least 160 militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Al-Lahabi said security forces were trying to secure two corridors around the refinery itself after the Sunni militants launched a large-scale attack on the complex earlier this week.

The militants had tried for a year to penetrate the vast but well-  (go to article)

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Transportation officials issue oil train safety measures

St Paul Pioneer Press, St Paul, MN -- An emergency order requiring trains hauling crude oil and other flammable liquids to slow down as they pass through urban areas and a series of other steps to improve the safety were announced Friday by the Department of Transportation.  (go to article)

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Truckers sue to end biodiesel mandate

Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN -- Minnesota truckers and other interests sued Minnesota on Friday seeking to end the state’s requirement that diesel sold at the pump contain 10 percent biodiesel.  (go to article)

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Canada’s auto industry could disappear within 15 years, says industry analyst

Windsor Star -- Canada’s share of North American production of cars and light trucks has fallen to 14.1% in 2014 from more than 17% in 2009. Mexico’s share stands about with 18.9% of production.

Canadian light vehicle production rose slightly last year to 2.382 million units, according to auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers. Meanwhile, Mexico saw its light vehicle production rise to 3.2 million vehicles in 2014.

Global automakers invested $7 billion in Mexico last year, according to the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Center for Automotive Research, compared to $750M for Canada.

Labour costs in Mexico average about $7/hr, including benefits.

Canada’s auto industry may be headed down the same road as Australia’s and cease to exist between 2030 and 2040, says auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers.

“We may not lose it all,”  (go to article)

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Feds order speed limits for oil trains

The Hill -- The Obama administration is requiring freight rail companies to impose a 40 mile per hour speed limit on oil trains that run near major cities that have large populations.  (go to article)

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U.S. to propose higher royalty rates for drilling federal land

Reuters -- WASHINGTON – The U.S. government would get a larger share of oil and gas revenue from federal land under a proposal the Interior Department is expected to announce on Friday.
The federal government is entitled to a 12.5 percent share of oil and gas sold from federal land, chiefly in Western states. The stake for offshore drilling is usually set at 18.75 percent.
 (go to article)

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Strong First Quarter Buoys C-store Retailers’ Optimism About Q2

Convenience Store News -- ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Despite harsh winter weather throughout the country for the first quarter of 2015, convenience store sales were strong. These results are leading c-store operators to be quite optimistic about second-quarter sales, according to the latest Retailer Sentiment Survey released by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

Nearly nine out of 10 c-store retailers (86 percent) said they are optimistic about their business in the second quarter, an increase of four percentage points compared to the first quarter of 2015. Only 8 percent of retailers expressed pessimism about second-quarter sales.

A total of 100 NACS member companies participated in the survey, representing 2,519 c-stores.  (go to article)

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San Francisco introduces free, solar-powered electric vehicle charging

cnet -- Electric vehicle proponents cite the cars' zero tailpipe emissions and extremely efficient use of energy, while critics often point out how coal-fired power plants generate electricity used to charge electric cars. Today, San Francisco unveiled a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station to counter the critics' argument and highlight the fact that electricity can come from a variety of sources.

An organization called Charge Across Town secured a grant from the 11th Hour Project to set up three of the solarpowered charging stations in locations around San Francisco: The Stonestown Galleria Mall parking lot, the public parking lot at Embarcadero and Green Street and a City CarShare lot at 17th and Shotwell Streets. Electric car owners will be able to plug in for free Level 2 charging,  (go to article)

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Is Saudi Arabia Setting The World Up For Major Oil Price Spike?

Yahoo -- In order to maintain a grip on market share by pushing U.S. shale producers out of the market, Saudi Arabia (and OPEC) is willing to use up its spare capacity. That could lead to a price spike.

Saudi Arabia produced 10.3 million barrels per day in the month of March, a 658,000 barrel-per-day increase over the previous month. That is the highest level of production in three decades for the leading OPEC member. On top of the Saudi increase, Iraq boosted output by 556,000 barrels per day, and Libya succeeded in bringing 183,000 barrels per day back online. OPEC is now collectively producing nearly 31.5 million barrels per day, well above the cartel’s stated quota of just 30 million barrels per day.
The enormous increase in production comes into a market that is still dealing  (go to article)

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Contentious Dallas council declines to withdraw Trinity toll road support

Dallas Morning News -- The Dallas City Council on Thursday declined to withdraw the most controversial version of the Trinity Parkway toll road, the subject of growing public criticism for months.

But at the same marathon meeting, members also unanimously voted against unconditionally supporting the large version of the toll road, known as Alternative 3C. They said they could build a smaller, meandering parkway recommended by a “dream team” of experts as a first phase on the already-approved footprint.  (go to article)

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Caltrans Goals: Triple Biking, Double Walking and Transit by 2020

Streetsblog -- The new plan includes active transportation and Vision Zero, within its priority number one, “Safety and Health.” It also cites a goal of tripling bicycle mode share and doubling walking and transit mode share by 2020–that means not just the number of trips, but the percentage of total trips in California.

This is a major turnaround for the state DOT, which in the past has focused on motorist safety.

The mode share target is called out under the goal of “Sustainability, Livability, and Economy.” That broad goal also includes lowering vehicle miles traveled (15 percent by 2020) and reducing the percentage of greenhouse gases from transportation (to match current and proposed state mandates).  (go to article)

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Shooting of baby wasn’t road rage, police say

Associated Press/The Spokesman Review. -- SEATTLE – A ?1-year-old girl was shot in the head and critically wounded Thursday as she sat in a car with her parents in suburban Seattle.

Detectives in Kent initially suggested road rage as a motive, but Cmdr. Jarod Kasner told the Seattle Times on Friday that police no longer think that’s the case after further investigation. Police didn’t provide additional details on what they believe led to the shooting.

The baby was shot in the head Thursday while sitting in a car seat in the back of a silver Chevrolet Impala, Kent police spokeswoman Melanie Robinson said. The parents were in the front seat when a black car pulled alongside, and the driver and a passenger in that vehicle opened fire before driving off, police said.

A spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said the b  (go to article)

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Worsening drought prompts emergency declaration from Inslee

The Spokesman-Review/Murrow News Service -- OLYMPIA – Nearly half of Washington is expected to face hardships due to worsening drought and snowpack conditions, and state officials say they are on the lookout for problems across the state.

State agencies project the amount of runoff from melting snow this summer will be the lowest since records began to be kept 64 years ago, threatening farmers and wildlife throughout Western and Central Washington and as far east as Walla Walla.

“This is an ongoing emergency and we’re going to have some long, hard months ahead of us,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in an emergency declaration issued Friday. “We’re moving quickly so that we’re prepared to provide relief to farms and fish this summer.”

“Carbon pollution is causing our climate to change. To me, this is a wake-up call to the state,”  (go to article)

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Are earthquakes induced by fluid-injection activities always located close to the point of injection

USGS.gov -- Are earthquakes induced by fluid-injection activities always located close to the point of injection?

No. Given enough time, the injected fluids can migrate
substantial horizontal and vertical distances from the injection location. Induced earthquakes commonly occur several kilometers below the injection point. In some cases, the induced earthquakes have been located as far as 10 km (6 mi.) from the injection well.  (go to article)

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Electric Cars Won't Spread Even With Rapid Chargers: Toyota Engineer

NY Times -- Battery-powered electric vehicles don't have a practical future as a long-range alternative to conventional cars even if technological breakthroughs allow them to be charged quickly, a top engineer at Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday.  (go to article)

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Texas House OKs rules to prohibit city fracturing bans

Midland Reporter-Telegram/AP -- AUSTIN — Oil and gas companies putting Texas awash in money moved closer Friday to stopping cities from banning fracturing, an early victory for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and his sights on what he calls runaway local overregulation.

The Texas House, which Republicans control by a 2-to-1 margin, overwhelmingly passed a bill that would effectively prohibit cities and counties from denying access to natural gas goldmines underground.

 (go to article)

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Texas House approves gutting municipal fracking bans

Reuters -- The Texas House overwhelmingly approved a bill on Friday that would give the state the exclusive right to regulate the oil and gas industry, and gut the power of municipalities to pass anti-fracking rules.

In Texas, the top U.S. crude producer and the birthplace of fracking, the bill also needs to be passed by the state's Senate and signed by the governor before it becomes law.
 (go to article)

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Power plant fight rattles community of Clinton

The State Journal Register -- CLINTON — Community leaders in Clinton are rallying around their nuclear power station.

There are the usual petition drives and phone calls to legislators. Organizers also have turned to Facebook and other social media, as well as traveling to hearings in Springfield, after plant owner Exelon Corp. included Clinton among three Illinois nuclear plants that likely would close if the company fails to win new financial incentives for clean energy.

The Clinton plant, which began operations in 1987, is by far the largest private employer in Dewitt County, with a workforce of nearly 700. Clinton, about 45 miles northeast of Springfield and with a population of about 7,200, is the county seat.  (go to article)

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Les Pétroles Global Inc fined $1 million for fixing gas prices

The Financial Post -- MONTREAL – Quebec’s Superior Court in Sherbrooke has fined Les Pétroles Global Inc. $1 million for its role in a gasoline price-fixing conspiracy.  (go to article)

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Why the Volt is the most important car for Obama and why that hurts GM

The Globe & Mail -- When the history books are written about Barack Obama’s tenure as commander in chief, the Chevrolet Volt will doubtless be remembered as the most important car of his presidency. Like selfies, secular stagnation and the Tea Party, General Motors’s plug-in hybrid is inextricably linked with the America of the last seven years.  (go to article)

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Gas-line blast at California shooting range injures 11

MSN -- A natural gas pipeline explosion at a California sheriff's gun range shot flames well over 100 feet into the air, left 11 people injured and brought traffic on a busy highway to a halt, authorities and witnesses said.  (go to article)

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My three car-free decades in Montreal

Montreal Gazette -- Montrealer Wayne Larsen near his country home in Val-David, where he bikes to the village to do his groceries. He has a simple rule: If it doesn't fit in his backpack, he doesn't buy it.

The last car I owned was a sky-blue 1974 Ford Pinto, which I bought for next to nothing from a friend in Calgary.

Once the paperwork was safely signed over, he congratulated me on being the proud owner of an object of the most infamous recall in automotive history.

“Be careful,” he said. “The gas tank could explode if someone hits you from behind.”

Still, I drove the hell out of that little car for two years.

It was a cranky old heap with a badly cracked windshield and two rust-rimmed bullet holes in the passenger door (don’t ask), but it got me from Point A to Point B — although Point C was often out  (go to article)

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NHTSA cautions owners of 2007 model vehicles (or older) on brake pipe corrosion

GasBuddy Blog -- Model year 2007 and earlier vehicles may be susceptible to brake pipe corrosion that can occur after seven to eight years of exposure to winter road salts. If brake pipe corrosion is not properly addressed, there is the potential of brake pipe failure which could result in a crash. NHTSA says it recently conducted an investigation of brake pipe failures due to corrosion in a large population of 1999 through 2003 model year full-size pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles and found that the failures result from end-of-life wear-out. Data show that this corrosion problem is linked to brake line coating materials that several manufacturers used during this time period. Vehicles driven in the following salt states are more prone to corrosion-related issues: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and  (go to article)

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Canada far from meeting committments on greenhouse gas: Environment Canada

Vancouver Sun -- Environment Canada quietly released greenhouse gas figures late Friday that show the country is far from meeting its international commitments and getting further every year.

The country pumped out 726 megatons of CO2 equivalent in 2013, according to Canada’s National Inventory Report 1990-2013. It’s a 10 Mt bump over 2012 and the latest of 4 straight year-over-year increases.

Alberta is the heaviest emitter of greenhouse gases by far, followed by Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, then B.C.

The numbers came out on the same day B.C. Premier Christy Clark said her government is not considering hiking the carbon tax in 2018, when an election-year promise to freeze the tax for 5 years is set to expire.

The premier, invited to Washington to brief G20 finance ministers on the carbon tax, sai  (go to article)

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Is Big Brother a backseat driver?

TRIBLIVE -- Question: I've seen information on TV about how insurance companies can supposedly track how a car is driven. How much information is available about my car and personal choices to someone who is capable of snooping?
Answer: This is a large concern for many people. I'm familiar with what is possible to obtain from a vehicle's data link connector but don't have the resources to be sure of the extent to which it may be collected and used, beyond the examples below.
The onboard diagnostics data link connector beneath the instrument panel of vehicles made in 1996 and on, an OBD-II, can provide two types of information: federally mandated generic diagnostic information and manufacturer-specific, all-vehicle information. Easily acquired data include a couple of dozen powertrain parameters...  (go to article)

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Oil Prices Fall on Doubts About Output

Wall Street Journal -- Oil prices faded, undoing a small rally Friday as traders showed skepticism that a surge of U.S. production is leveling off.

Oil has made gains for five weeks in a row, but analysts are warning that the rally came on a false premise of sputtering production. U.S. producers aren’t shutting down rigs as quickly as they once were, and several countries around the world are trying to put more of their crude onto the market.

“There’s not necessarily a lot of belief in the front of the market,” said Ric Navy, senior vice president for energy futures at brokerage R.J. O’Brien & Associates LLC. “We’re still over supplied.”
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Les Pétroles Global Inc fined $1 million for fixing gas prices

FINANCIAL POST -- Quebec’s Superior Court in Sherbrooke has fined Les Pétroles Global Inc. $1 million for its role in a gasoline price-fixing conspiracy.

In 2013, the Ontario-based company was found guilty of taking part in a “cartel” of retailers that fixed prices in Victoriaville, Sherbrooke and Magog in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

Les Pétroles Global was charged in June 2008, following an investigation by Canada’s Competition Bureau.

“Businesses that conspire to fix prices drive up costs for consumers,” Commissioner of Competition John Pecman said in a news release Friday. “This fine demonstrates that the risks and penalties of not complying with the law can be very damaging.”

This case was part of a larger investigation that resulted in charges against 39 individuals and 15 companies in 2008, 2010  (go to article)

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New Artificial Photosynthesis Can Convert CO2 Into Useful Substances

Market Journals -- A new method of artificial photosynthesis can easily convert the byproduct in to useful products like biodegradable plastics, liquid fuels and pharmaceuticals. The system can convert carbon dioxide and water into acetate using a hybrid system of semiconducting nano-wires and bacteria, which mimics the photosynthetic process. Acetate acts as a versatile building block in both chemical and biological systems that can then be synthesized into more complex molecules.

In order to remove the CO2 greenhouse gas from power stations and provide an alternate to store it underground. It can rather be used to produce useful substances.
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Obama's EPA Rule Is Redrawing the U.S. Coal Map

bloomberg,com -- America’s oldest coal plants are retiring like they’re Baby Boomers, and some of them are the same age. About 17 percent of U.S. coal-fired power generation will vanish in the next few years — some 7.5 percent this year alone, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Obstacles facing coal plants include their age, the abundance of cheap natural gas and a new EPA rule that begins taking effect April 16.

The new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards requires that coal plant owners limit poisons such as mercury, arsenic, and metals, which have previously freely spilled into the atmosphere and waterways.

The Supreme Court will weigh in on the rules at the end of this term. But with plants this old and gas this cheap, most of these plants are set for closure or conversion to gas, regardless.

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It's official: GM's new 200-mile electric car will be called the Chevrolet Bolt EV Read more: http:

Business Insider -- Well, they did it.

General Motors confirmed yesterday that its upcoming 200-mile battery-electric car will be named the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

That's Bolt-with-a-B, not Volt-with-a-V.

An all-new second-generation Volt will go into production later this year as a 2016 model, while the Bolt-with-a-B will enter production roughly a year later and go on sale as a 2017 model.

The name Bolt had been widely criticized as too similar to Volt, especially since many Spanish speakers pronounce the letter V as a B to start with.

In a statement e-mailed to The Detroit News, Chevy director of communications Mike Albano confirmed the name.

The statement said, in part:

"Since unveiling the Bolt EV three months ago, the name has quickly become associated with Chevrolet. Therefore, we will use the name w  (go to article)

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Crude Oil Futures Fall First Time in Seven Days in New York

Bloomberg -- Oil dropped for the first time in seven days, ending the longest stretch of gains since 2013.
Futures slid as much as 2.5 percent in New York, paring the biggest weekly advance in more than four years.
West Texas Intermediate for May delivery fell $1.18, or 2.1 percent, to $55.53 a barrel at 2:21 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent for June settlement slipped 61 cents to $63.37 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.  (go to article)

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Phillips 66 estimates 25,000 gallons of diesel leaked near Wood River Refinery

St,. Louis Post-Dispatch -- Phillips 66 estimates about 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked on Friday into the Cahokia Canal, a waterway that drains into the Mississippi River.

The spill prompted the Coast Guard to close a 35-mile section of the river.

Phillips 66 discovered a leak in a pipeline that runs from its storage terminal to a barge loading dock. The facilities are near the Wood River Refinery, which Phillips 66 co-owns with Cenovus Energy.  (go to article)

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Gas-line blast closes major highway, injures at least 15

AP/msn -- FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A large gas pipeline exploded into a tower of fire Friday in Central California, closing both directions of a major highway in the region and injuring at least 15 people, four of them critically, authorities said.

It was not clear what caused the explosion at the Fresno County Sheriff's gun range that brought traffic in the area to a halt. But authorities say it occurred while a county equipment operator was working with a jail inmate crew to expand a road on the range alongside heavily travelled Highway 99.

The flames shot well over 100 feet into the air, several witnesses said.

Four patients were being treated at Community Regional Medical Center's burn and trauma unit, spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell said. Three of them are in critical condition and one is in seri  (go to article)

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