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BMW Brings Back Old-School Goggles With a Twist

Bloomberg -- Car drivers stopped wearing goggles almost a century ago. BMW wants to bring them back.

The German automaker's Mini unit is showing off a system that's a throwback in looks and a step forward in technology to give drivers a better all-round view of what's going on outside their car. The Mini Augmented Vision, to be demonstrated this week at the Shanghai auto show, feeds motorists information while their eyes remain fixed on the road.
 (go to article)

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Iraqi Forces Retake Baiji Oil Refinery From Islamic State: U.S.

Bloomberg -- Iraqi security forces have regained full control of the Baiji oil refinery after clearing out remaining Islamic State fighters, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The recapture of the facility in northern Iraq means the radical Sunni Islamic State organization can’t generate oil revenue in Iraq, although it also holds land in neighboring Syria.

“Once the Iraqis have full control of Baiji, they will control all of their oil infrastructure, both north and south, and deny ISIL the ability to generate revenue through oil,” Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference Thursday. ISIL is an acronym for Islamic State.

Iraq’s oil production could increase to as much as 7 million barrels a day by 2020, from about 4 million barrels now,  (go to article)

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Nigeria, Algeria See Oil Prices Staying Low for a Long Time

Bloomberg -- Oil prices are likely to stay low for a long time after falling more than 40 percent in the past year, said officials from two OPEC nations.

Nigeria and Algeria both warned that oil prices, currently at around $60 a barrel, probably won’t recover to the 2011-2013 level of more than $100 a barrel.

“You forecast at your own risk, but it seems to me that we should be regarding this as a permanent shock,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister, said on a panel discussion Sunday in Washington near the end of the International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings. “We should prepare our economies for that eventuality.”

The comments highlight a growing worry among oil-producing nations ahead of an important meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in June in Vienna.  (go to article)

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Israel mayor orders Oil Refineries closures over cancer scare

Yahoo News -- JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The mayor of Haifa ordered on Sunday the closure of plants run by Israel's largest refining and petrochemicals group, Oil Refineries, following a report showing high cancer rates in the port city.

Oil Refineries said its operating license and that of a number of its subsidiaries had been canceled in Israel's third largest city, which is heavily industrialized. The company said it thought the order was illegal and vowed to take legal action.

A report issued by the Health Ministry last week said that data collected over the past decade showed a higher rate of cancer in the Haifa area compared to the national norm, possibly because of bad air pollution.

"(The plants) will close (tomorrow) and if the state wants matters to be put back on track, it must come and explain  (go to article)

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WHY ENGINES ARE COMMONLY MEASURED IN HORSEPOWER

Today I found out -- We owe this unit of engine power measurement to Scottish engineer James Watt.

In the early 1780s, after making a vastly superior steam engine to the then classic Newcomen steam engine, Watt was looking for a way to market his invention, advertising the fact that his engine used about 75% less fuel than a similarly powered Newcomen, among many other improvements.

At first, he tried selling his engine on a royalty scheme, where the customers would owe him one-third of the money they saved by using his engine over other steam engines. Of course, many at the time used horses, not steam engines, so it was difficult to compare without them actually buying the engine to see how it would perform for their particular usage. Thus, he scrapped the royalty scheme and decided to try a different tact  (go to article)

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In 1899 Ninety Percent of NYC Taxis Were Electric

Today I Found Out -- Electric cars got their start in the early 1800s. In 1899 and 1900, electric cars outsold all other types of cars, such as gas and steam powered vehicles. At the time, the advantages of the electric car over the other popular types (gas and steam) were significant. The electric cars had no vibrations from the engine and were extremely quiet compared to its competitors. They also didn’t emit smoke or backfire frequently as did gas powered cars. They were also ready to go right when you sat in the car, unlike gas powered cars that needed to be cranked by hand to start. Steam powered cars, on the other hand, at the time took up to 45 minutes to get going on cold days.  (go to article)

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Transportation officials issue oil train safety measures

Fuelfix -- WASHINGTON — 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.

The Obama administration has been under intense pressure from members of Congress as well as state and local officials to ensure the safety of oil trains that traverse the country after leaving the Bakken region of North Dakota. To get to refineries on the East and West coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, oil shipments travel through more than 400 counties, including major metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Newark and dozens of other cities.  (go to article)

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Large explosion at Karnes City oil facility sends flames more than 100 feet into the air

Houston Chronicle -- KARNES CITY --- A large explosion sent flames more than a hundred feet into the air Friday afternoon at an oil facility north of Karnes City, but no injuries were reported.

The fire started at 4:10 p.m. after lightning struck at least one tank at Shale Tank Truck's business property while heavy rainstorms moved through the area, said Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva.

Highway 181 north of Karnes City was closed due to the fire and was expected to reopen at about 7:30 p.m., Villanueva said.

Tweleve tanks containing oil and salt water continue to burn and are expected to burn throughout the night, Villanueva said. There have been no evacuations and there is no air threat to the community, he said.  (go to article)

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In wake of oil slump, watchful North Dakotans adjust expectations

Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN -- Snowflakes and tumbleweeds whip past dismantled stacks of steel that used to be hundreds of oil workers’ livelihoods.

Four massive drilling rigs, idled on the windswept prairie near the North Dakota-Montana line here, wait for oil prices to rise again. Last year, when oil was selling for $100 a barrel, each rig employed almost 200 people, directly or indirectly. Now, with oil prices cut in half, they employ Shay Hunt, the night watchman.  (go to article)

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Predicting boneheaded driving with technology

CNN Money -- Let's face it, almost all automobile crashes are caused by human error. But what if there were a way to predict driving mistakes right before they happen?

That's the promise of new technology under development by researchers at Cornell and Stanford universities. While many cars already have sensors and cameras that watch line markings and surrounding vehicles, this new system also uses cameras inside the car to monitor the driver.

Subtle movements of the head and body can indicate that a driver is about to turn or change lanes in the next few seconds. With that information, combined with data from sensors outside the car, computers can predict that a driver is going to make a dangerous move. Example: turning left in front of an oncoming car.
The driver could then be warned that he is ...  (go to article)

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10 Largest Companies by Market Cap in Oil

The Motley Fool -- Quick question: What is the largest company in the world? If you said Apple, I'm sorry but you will not be headed to the showcase showdown. The world's largest company by almost any measure is an oil company: Saudi Aramco. Since the company is owned exclusively by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we don't know the true value of the company, but the best guesses based on the company's reserves estimates that the company is worth well over $1 trillion.

Even when you look over into the sphere of the largest publicly traded companies in the world, a very percentage of those companies will come from the oil and gas industry. Heck, it wasn't too long ago that half of the world's 10 largest companies were in the oil business. That shouldn't be too surprising, though, because it takes immense size  (go to article)

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Saudi Crude Exports Drop Amid Price Cut to Defend Share

Bloomberg -- Saudi Arabia’s crude exports dropped from an 11-month high in February when the world’s biggest shipper cut pricing to boost demand and defend its market share.

Exports fell to 7.35 million barrels a day from 7.47 million in January, the highest since February 2014, according to figures published Sunday on the website of the Joint Organisations Data Initiative. Shipments were down from 7.76 million barrels a day in February last year.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, announced price cuts in February for oil sales to Asia to the lowest in at least 14 years in a sign that it was continuing to fight for market share. Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in March global demand for oil was improving gradually.

“Keeping the market share is very important  (go to article)

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Why City Workers Can’t Get to Suburban Jobs

Urban Wilwaukee -- It has been decades since the city was an engine for regional job growth. “Most of the job growth in recent years is either at the outer parts of the county or outside of the county,” said Kristi Luzar, deputy director of programs, Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin. “The biggest problem facing many people in the city is getting connections to jobs.”
Employment in Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha Counties increased by 56,271 from 1994 to 2009, while the city lost 27,858 jobs, according to a report published earlier this year by the Center for Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Reaching suburban employment centers can be challenging for city residents. About 13 percent of city households don’t have access to a car...  (go to article)

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How Car-Reliance Squeezes the Middle Class

The Atlantic (via msm money) -- Over at Wonkblog, Max Ehrenfreund breaks down how the rich and poor really spend their money, using a great new dataset from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that splits Americans into income deciles (ten equal-sized groupings). But the stats also show how the middle-class spend their money, and when it comes to annual transportation expenditures, the results are pretty alarming.

In the basic-necessity categories of food and housing, the numbers align in predictable ways. The rich spend more in these areas, but this spending also accounts for a lower share of overall annual household expenditures—with the reverse true for low-income Americans. So, in the chart below, the columns representing food and housing expenses climb, just as the lines representing those costs as shares of total house  (go to article)

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Japanese group investing in deepwater FPSO offshore Brazil

Oil & Gas Journal -- Four Tokyo-based companies are investing in a 20-year charter for a floating production, storage, and offloading vessel to be moored in 765 m of water offshore Brazil in fourth-quarter 2017.
 (go to article)

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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.
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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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