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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

GAS PRICES: 12 straight days of increases irk customers

Press Enterprise -- On the 12th day of gas-price increases, Alberto Castro-Mendoza pulled into the Shell station at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Blaine Street in Riverside, California.

It didn’t feel like Christmas.

Castro-Mendoza, 22, usually shops around, but on Tuesday, April 15, he was in a rush. So he stopped at a station, that with no competitors nearby, turned out to have the highest prices in Riverside County — $4.59 for regular, $4.67 for midgrade and $4.75 for premium — according to the website

The prices, said Castro-Mendoza, an unemployed Army veteran, “are ridiculous. They’re manipulative. They’re evil.”

“The direct impact on consumers is immediate. They don’t have money to spend somewhere else,” said Esmael Adibi, chief economist at Chapman University in Orange.  (read more)

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Commute-Case, the Portable Electric Scooter

AutoEvolution -- Folding scooters and similar transportation which can be stored in a briefcase are nothing new, as this idea has been around since the 80’s or so. Still, this doesn’t mean that improvements would not make it exceptionally appealing once more, and the Commute-Case is just the kind of new interpretation we needed.

It goes without saying that using a small, electric scooter which needs no parking place and which can also be carried around just like normal briefcase is truly convenient. Cheap to run and easy to store near your desk, the Commute-Case can also become a nifty way to travel your last miles to work or school. Park your car, take the Commute-Case out and ride away. Or just get out from the train and ride into the city, the possibilities are endless.

With a costs as low as 1 cent  (read more)

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Volvo Designs Ultra-Light Inflatable Child Seat Concept [Video]

AutoEvolution -- Child seats may be an indispensable accessory, but when you have to carry one around, you’ll notice that it also requires body-building skills. Well, if anybody would be on track to change all that, it has to be Volvo. The Sweedes have just come up with an inflatable child seat concept, which obviously promises parent-pleasing practicality.

The seat inflates in under 40 seconds and deflates with the help of an integrated pump. It tips the scales at under 11 lbs (5 kg), half the weight of a conventional seat. What’s more, this is gifted with Internet access via Bluetooth, allowing the user to perform a multitude of features, such as inflating it remotely. Volvo explains the seat can be folded into a weekend bag together with other child-related items.

This was all possible through the u  (read more)

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CP contests Lac-Mégantic cleanup order: Argues environment ministry did not supply documents within

The Gazette -- CP says it shouldn’t be forced to clean up the Lac-Mégantic oil spill because QC botched the process of issuing an emergency environmental order against the company, did not supply it with all the documents it had related to the oil spill within 30 days, as required by law

Last summer, QC used the province’s environmental-quality law to order MM&A, World Fuel Services and Western Petroleum to clean up spilled oil and any other contaminants. They also had to prevent the spread of contaminants into the environment, evaluate the extent of the environmental contamination, devise a cleanup and decontamination plan, and then execute that plan

About 2 wks later, the government added CP to the cleanup order

Nearly 6M L of crude oil spilled and 47 people were killed Jul 6 when a runaway oil trai  (read more)

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Oil foes study how to be arrested

Charleston Daily Mail -- Donny Williams didn’t spend his weekend in Washington walking around the Tidal Basin taking in the cherry blossoms.

He was training people how to get arrested.

Williams, a 36-year-old environmental activist from Baltimore, taught a class in the nation’s capital on civil disobedience, part of a last-ditch campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, which critics view as a threat to the climate.

The sessions were held over the past two weekends in eight cities, including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. While critics say they remain hopeful that President Barack Obama will reject Keystone, the tutorials anticipate that a State Department-led review will find the project to be in the nation’s interest to build.

“We’re trying to create as much pressure as we can on President Obama,” Willi  (read more)

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Senate Democrats to Obama: Make a call on Keystone


A group of Democratic senators in swing districts is urging President Barack Obama to make a decision on whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline soon, according to analysis in

With midterm elections looming, the 11 senators—most of whom have a history of supporting the oil industry—wrote a letter asking the administration for a "definitive timeline" on construction of the TransCanada project by the end of May, Oilprice said.

The Obama administration has resisted calls for a quick approval on Keystone, which is strongly supported by energy industry interests but opposed just as strongly by environmental groups.

Click here for the full Oilprice story, including the list of senators who signed the letter.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

California cringing at gas pumps statewide

GasBuddy Blog -- California motorists are getting hit hard- not only does the state boast the highest average price in the lower 48, but it also has seen the largest jump in prices in the last week, jumping 13c/gal to $4.18/gal, the highest price in over a year.

The latest jump comes as refinery kinks have pinched supply, resulting in supplies that are running 7% lower than they did a year ago, and a huge 10% drop versus last week. Across the state, the pain is worst in Los Angeles and areas of Southern California. LA has seen prices spike 16c/gal while prices have jumped 12c/gal in the Bay area.

While I don't expect these large increases to continue in the week ahead, more increases are likely, but there is relief coming. I expect prices...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Coal Returns to German Utilities Replacing Lost Nuclear

Bloomberg -- What’s a beleaguered utility to do when forced by the government to close its profitable nuclear power plants?

It turns to lignite, a cheap, soft, muddy-brown colored form of sedimentary rock that spews more greenhouse gases than any other fossil fuel.

The story of German power giant RWE AG (RWE) exemplifies the crisis facing the nation’s utility industry -- and those of many countries across Europe -- as nuclear power plants get shuttered in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, renewables steal away revenue, and consumers and companies complain about rising power costs that are three times higher than in the U.S.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2011 to shutter all 17 of Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2022 struck a blow to RWE’s profit stream, particularly for a company that  (read more)

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Glow-in-the-dark roads make debut in Netherlands

WIRED.CO.UK -- Light-absorbing glow-in-the-dark road markings have replaced streetlights on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands.

Studio Roosegaarde promised us the design back in 2012, and after cutting through rather a lot of government red tape we can finally see the finished product.

One Netherlands news report said, "It looks like you are driving through a fairytale," which pretty much sums up this extraordinary project. The design studio like to bring technology and design to the real world, with practical and beautiful results.

Back in October 2012, Daan Roosegaarde, the studio's founder and lead designer, told us: "One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Gas prices expected to rise in Canada this summer

CBC News -- Gasoline prices in Canada are climbing to two-year highs, and could be going higher, according to industry watchers

In Toronto, gas prices are at 137.9/L, the highest they’ve been in 2yrs. At the beginning of the year, gas was 10c cheaper

In Vancouver, it costs 149.1/L, 20c more

Gas prices tend to be seasonal and could stay strong until the 2nd half of the year if the global economy keeps improving

Bigger corporate-run stations in Toronto have increased their profit margins to 8c, up from 6.5c 10 months ago. Part of the increase is being driven by speculators in the U.S.

“There’s a perception that the U.S. economy is getting back on track

Nearly 25% of our disposable income goes to energy

"For a nation that claims it is an energy superpower, it’s a strange way of showing it, particu  (read more)

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Toyota Replacing Some Factory Robots With Humans To Increase Quality

AutoEvolution -- Toyota Motor Corporation is the top automaker when it comes to using robots for its vehicle production. This was a major factor which made it the top automaker with annual vehicle production surpassing its competitors.

Relying on robots to make your vehicles has advantages and disadvantages. Yes, its good for rapidly producing cars because robots are more accurate in what they do than humans, but there are things only humans can differentiate.

Just rushing to make a large number of cars will eventually lead to your decay as a renowned automaker. And here you can see what happened to Toyota a few years ago with the sticky accelerator pedal case. You need humans to assure each vehicle comes out as it should be, and the automaker is now bringing them back.

Toyota is now looking to bring  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Toyota's astonishing new Atkinson Cycle engine delivers 78 mpg

gizmag -- Toyota has announced the development of two hyper-fuel-efficient small-displacement petrol Atkinson cycle engines: a three-cylinder 1.0-liter and four-cylinder 1.3-liter which will be introduced across the range from next year in 14 different variations. The smaller engine will deliver 78 mpg (US) in the Toyota Aygo, an improvement of 30 percent.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Speculators Boost Bullish Oil Wagers on OPEC Output Drop

Bloombreg -- A drop in OPEC production came just as refineries began looking for supply, helping boost bullish speculative bets on crude last week by the most since July.

The group, which pumps about 40 percent of the world’s oil, reduced output to the lowest for March since 2011 as a standoff between the Libyan government and rebels kept exports near the lowest level since Muammar Qaddafi was driven from office.

Output from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell for the fifth time in seven months, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The International Energy Agency, which advises oil-consuming countries, said April 11 that OPEC will have to pump more crude after a “steep drop” last month. Refiners in the U.S. and Europe are looking for oil after retooling to make gasoline, as...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Coal’s Best Hope Rising With Costliest U.S. Power Plant

Bloombreg -- Rising from the scrub pines of central Mississippi is a $5.2 billion construction project that may determine the future of coal in the age of global warming.

It’s here in Kemper County, 90 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that utility Southern Co. (SO) is building the first large-scale power plant in the U.S. designed to transform coal into gas, capture the carbon dioxide and pump it underground. If it succeeds -- and there are plenty of doubters -- it will boost the fortunes of the fossil fuel that drove the Industrial Revolution but has lost ground to cheaper, cleaner alternatives in the U.S.

“Kemper is a first-of-a-kind plant that could be a game changer,” said John Thompson, director at the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group that supports the project. “The central...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Colorado on path to become next state to prohibit red light cameras

GasBuddy Blog -- A proposal to ban red-light and speeding cameras in Colorado is back at the Capitol, and the bill sponsor says he has more support than when he pitched the idea two years ago.
The bill from Greeley Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe would forbid cities and towns from using the automated traffic enforcement devices. He introduced it last week.

The measure is identical to what Renfroe sponsored in 2012. The Colorado Municipal League opposed that bill, saying it should be up to cities and towns to decide the matter on their own.

Renfroe argues the cameras are used to make money, not to improve public safety.

"I mean, it's exponential the amount of revenue that is brought in, and our intersections should be about...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2014 By:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Death by solar farms: 71 species of birds killed, ‘entire food chains’ disrupted

Washington Times -- A new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finds that solar facilities in California are acting like “mega traps” that kill and injure birds. As a result, “entire food chains” are being disrupted.

USFWS’s National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory studied three solar farms in Southern California: Desert Sunlight, Genesis Solar and Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). Two-hundred and thirty-three different birds from 71 species were found over the course of a two-year study.

Hummingbirds, swifts, swallows, doves, hawks, finches, warblers and owls were just some dead birds found at the solar facilities’ “equal opportunity” mortality hazards.

The study found that besides the intense heat, birds may be mistaking large solar panels for bodies of water. The  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Hilarious Car Dealership Outwitting Labor Union Tactics

TheBlaze -- Subaru of Wichita couldn’t help but notice that a union banner was looking a little lonely outside the dealership, so last month the folks in the lot figured they would keep the union sign company and make things more interesting.

That apparently didn’t sit well with Carpenters Local 201, which repositioned its sign — so Subaru simply enacted some creative editing, adding a comma, and they’re back on top (Click on Full Story to see signs)  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Rail Transport of Crude Oil Increases as Pipeline Falls Short

NY Times -- In December, a new terminal in the Port of Beaumont welcomed its first customer: a train carrying 43,000 barrels of crude oil from Colorado. Workers at the terminal, the Jefferson Transload Railport, transferred the crude to a barge, which traveled down the Neches River to a nearby refinery.

As shale fields scattered across the Midwest and West Texas produce millions of barrels of crude oil, energy companies are finding the national pipeline network insufficient to transport their output. Railroads are increasingly picking up the slack, and Jefferson Energy Companies, based in The Woodlands, is one of several companies investing millions of dollars to help transport crude by rail, a business that was nearly nonexistent just five years ago.

"We never thought we competed with pipeline unti  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

NASCAR to Shorten Races: Surging Gas Prices Spur Changes

Glossy News -- NASCAR officials declared today that due to the current increase in gasoline prices, several races later this season will be shortened to save costs.
According to the report issued, the money saving initiative will prevent a rise in ticket prices and allow the typical NASCAR fan to continue spending large amounts of cash they don’t have on NASCAR apparel they don’t need.
Crude oil has topped one hundred dollars a barrel this year and nationwide gas price averages sit above $3.60 a gallon. NASCAR stock cars get approximately two miles per gallon.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Automotive safety at any cost? Sounds good, but it's not true

Automotive News -- WASHINGTON -- The history of General Motors' ignition-switch fiasco is still fuzzy, but we know this: GM had the chance to replace a fatally flawed switch in the Chevy Cobalt with a part that cost less then $1 and did not do it.

CEO Mary Barra, testifying on Capitol Hill this month, called that "very disturbing." She diagnosed it as the flawed reasoning of Old GM, insisting that never again would such a paltry sum stand in the way of safety.

So Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., the chairman of a U.S. House oversight panel, asked the natural question: Where does the New GM strike the balance between cost and safety?

"We don't," Barra replied. Later, when asked a similar question, she elaborated: "It's not acceptable to have a cost put on a safety issue."

It sounded good. It was just what GM's ...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 13, 2014 By:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fresno hotel installs electric vehicle charging station -- FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno hotel now has a new green feature for electric vehicles.

It's a "green" sign of the time. A new electric vehicle charging station was installed at Best Western Plus near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

"We're basically the first hotel in the San Joaquin Valley to have the EV chargers," said Maria Freitas. "We believe that we can possibly start a trend here in the city of Fresno."

Freitas with Best Western says for a small fee, local residents can use the station for some power, and travelers can also catch a charge when visiting or passing through.

"We're hoping to draw people that are coming to the San Joaquin Valley," said Freitas.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Scientists discover how to make ethanol using just water and CO2 -- Scientists at Stanford University in the state of California say they’ve developed a procedure for making potent liquid ethanol that doesn’t rely on corn or any other crops traditionally involved in the process.

The researchers disclosed their discovery in the latest online edition of the journal Nature, and in it they say that in less than three years’ time they expect to have a prototype device ready that will make biofuel from using not much more than carbon monoxide, easily derived from carbon dioxide.

"We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure – a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction," wrote Stanford’s Matthew Kanan, a co-author of the report released this week.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Nearly half of U.S. drivers don't recognize tire pressure warning light

GasBuddy Blog -- Are you one of those folks who has no idea why that thing that looks like an exclamation mark has popped up on your dashboard? If you are, you're not alone.

A study funded by Shrader International – the company that makes tire inflation valve stems and “a global leader in Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems” – found that 42 percent of drivers are unable to identify the low-tire-pressure warning light in the gauge cluster.

What good is it if people don't know what it means?

Almost as bad as not knowing what your car is trying to tell you is that an equal percentage of those polled admitted to rarely checking the air pressure in their tires. This would indicate that nearly half of all drivers on the road don’t...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Chicago 30-Hour Tie-Up for Buffett’s Trains Slows Coal: Freight

bloomyberg -- Come to the west side of Chicago to find out why a power plant in Michigan is short of coal and a biodiesel maker in Brewster, Minnesota, can’t get enough grain.

The answer is found near Western Avenue, where rail cars from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest U.S. publicly traded ethanol producer, rest idle on the track above the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. A short drive away a burnt orange, yellow and black locomotive from Warren Buffett’s BNSF railway sits on an overpass as motor traffic is snarled below.

Transport snarls are one reason coal on the New York Mercantile Exchange has risen 5.5 percent in the past year.

Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal has jumped 26 percent.

The railroad will need the rest of this year to untangle the train tie-ups in the corridor.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By:

Speedway Partners With IGS for CNG Station

ConvenienceStoreNews -- Speedway LLC is teaming up with IGS CNG Services to bring a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station here near the convenience store operator’s headquarters. The site will be located at the Ohio State Route 99 exit off of Interstate 75, with construction set to begin early this summer.

According to the companies, the creation of a CNG fueling station serves a growing number of businesses looking for easy access to the alternative fuel while traveling through the region after converting their fleets to natural gas.

“We are pleased to offer our Speedway site as a convenient fueling location for customers with natural gas vehicles,” said Tony Kenney, president of Speedway.

The Findlay, Ohio, station will be the sixth offering CNG in IGS’ network. “In partnership with Speedway our...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 12, 2014 By: