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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chart: Russia Is Insanely Dependent on Oil and Gas Money

NEW REPUBLIC -- As the United States and Europe prepare to impose tougher sanctions on Russia, it’s worth remembering just how dependent that country is on energy exports. This is a double-edged sword: The dependence gives the world significant leverage to inflict economic damage on the Kremlin, but Europe’s reliance on Russian energy exports puts their economies at risk if they follow through on that threat.

Consider: In 2013, the United States exported more than $1.5 trillion of goods. Of those, just $137 billion were either crude oil or petroleum products. (Due to the Energy Department's slow approval process, the U.S. has a de facto ban on natural gas exports.) In Russia, on the other hand the export of crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas made up more than two-thirds of their total exportS:  (read more)

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130 Environmental Groups Call For An End To Capitalism

The Daily Caller -- Environmentalists have declared that global warming can’t be stopped without ending the “hegemonic capitalist system,” saying that cap-and-trade systems and conservation efforts are “false solutions.”

“The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system,” reads the final draft of the Margarita Declaration, presented at a conference including about 130 environmental groups.

“To combat climate change it is necessary to change the system,” the declaration adds.

Environmental activists met in the oil producing, socialist country of Venezuela as part of a United Nations-backed event to increase civil engagement in the lead up to a major climate conference.

But environmentalists surprised U.N. officials by offering up a declaration that not only seek  (read more)

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Popular used hybrids at a glance

Chronicle Herald -- It started with the automatic transmission, again with the fuel injector, and most recently, with the hybrid car: shoppers skeptical of new technologies wondered how they’d be to live with after some years and miles of service under their belts.

Hybrids have their disbelievers, especially in the used-car market. How long will the batteries last? Will the complicated network of wiring and modules and electric motors cause issues as the vehicle ages? Will resale values stay strong if hybrid cars don’t catch on any further than they already have?

Thankfully, and largely due to the extensive research and development put into hybrid models ahead of their launch, many used hybrid models appear to be safe bets.

Here’s a look at some of the common used hybrid cars in the used market today.
 (read more)

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After legal challenge, Maine utility regulators again OK $333 million partnership between Emera, Fir

Bangor Daily News -- That partnership first approved in 2012 involves Emera Inc. subsidiary Northeast Wind taking a 49 percent stake in the company JV Holdco, which would have ownership of certain First Wind projects. The Ontario-based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. would also have a stake in those projects.

The renewed approval stands to bolster First Wind’s financing for projects in the state. As an indication of concern over the impact the court’s ruling would have on First Wind’s projects, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection asked the company to again file documentation proving it had access to money required for developing, maintaining and decommissioning its projects.

Opponents of the partnership wrote in briefs filed with the PUC that a partnership between an Emera entity and First W  (read more)

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Hydrogen fueled vehicles: Their future is closer than you think

GasBuddy Blog -- To the 48% of consumers who think that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are at least a decade away, the auto industry is saying, “Welcome to the year 2024!” In May, Hyundai Motor Co. began leasing a fuel-cell version of its Tucson sport-utility vehicle in California — the first mass- produced fuel cell vehicle to be sold in the United States. Other automakers plan to introduce their vehicles beginning next year. To support the sale — or leasing — of these new vehicles, the California Energy Commission announced in May that it is investing $46.6 million to help develop the hydrogen fueling infrastructure in the state.  This latest investment will add 28 stations to the nine in operation and 17 under development in the state, according to USA Today. ...  (read more)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why It Took So Long for the World’s Fiercest Supercars to Go Hybrid

Wired -- Bugatti’s next car will be a hybrid. It’s not surprising that the proud manufacturer of the Veyron Super Sport, the king of all excessive automobiles, is taking a route that makes most people think of the dinky eco-mobiles and their self-satisfied owners. It’s surprising that it has taken it this long to do so.

The luxury auto brand is following a trend that has been established over just the past few years: Today’s supercars are powered by batteries as well as internal combustion engines. The leading examples are the Porsche 918, the McLaren P1, and the Ferrari LaFerrari. At near or over $1 million a pop, each uses a hybrid powertrain.

It’s obvious why. Improving fuel economy may not matter to people who pay annual gas bills with the change under their sofa cushions.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Output on Federal Lands Has Declined Everywhere

Real Clear Energy -- The production of fossil fuels from federal lands has declined everywhere under the Obama Administration.

Wyoming production is almost entirely coal and has been declining since 2009 as the Obama Administration attempts to reduce coal’s role in electrical generation because of global warming. Oil and gas output from the Gulf of Mexico were experiencing a slight uptick until the BP blowout occurred in 2010. Since then there has been a steep decline.

The other states with significant federal output are New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana and North Dakota. Output in all these states has risen but it has been entirely on state and private lands. Texas has doubled its output over the last five years and has now exceeded Iraq as a producer. North Dakota just surpassed 1 million barrels of oil  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Lower sticker price keeps gasoline vehicles competitive with alternatives

Fuel Fix -- Improvements in fuel efficiency have helped make standard gasoline vehicles more competitive against hybrids, electric vehicles and other alternative-fuel vehicles, giving consumers more bang for their buck, a new report finds.

Gasoline-powered cars and trucks are cheaper than those using alternative energy. But even though they are traveling farther on a single tank of gasoline, in part because of new federal mandates to reduce emissions, the prices of those rides aren’t expected to increase dramatically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected in a brief released Tuesday.

Midsize passenger cars, for example, will see their fuel economies improve from 35 to 53 miles per gallon by 2025, but the average price should rise only slightly from $25,000 to $27,000 during the same  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Enbridge mulls Midwest rail terminal to ease pipeline congestion

REUTERS -- Canada's largest pipeline company Enbridge Inc may build a 140,000 barrel per day unit train unloading terminal in Pontiac, Illinois, to relieve congestion on its crude oil export network.

The terminal would be able to handle two unit trains a day and could be in service by the first quarter of 2016, according to a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Pontiac is the origin of Enbridge's new 600,000 bpd Flanagan South pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma, and the rail terminal would allow shippers to bypass congestion on pipelines in the Canadian portion of Enbridge's export network.

Enbridge Energy Partners LP, the company's U.S. arm, is also petitioning to build a new receipt point on the network, known as the Lakehead system, at Flanagan Illinois, which would allow crude...  (read more)

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South Portland, Maine, votes against crude oil export

CBC-City council opposes exporting Alberta oil from its shipyard -- The city of South Portland, Maine, has voted to block oil companies from using the city’s port to export crude bitumen from Alberta.

South Portland moves to block Alberta bitumen from reaching its port

After a long debate on Monday evening, South Portland councillors voted to amend a zoning bylaw to prohibit the bulk loading of crude oil onto marine tank vessels within the city and its port.

Enbridge's Line 9 reversal project, which would send Alberta crude eastward to be refined at the Suncor refinery in Montreal, does not officially include plans for the South Portland region.

But some members of the South Portland administration are concerned that Alberta crude could eventually make its way south, to be loaded onto tankers and exported from the city's port.
 (read more)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Way This City Is Tackling Gas Prices Has Some People Crying ‘Socialism’

TheBlaze/AP -- The town of Somerset, Kentucky, opened a city-run filling station on Saturday, the Associated Press reported, offering gas to the public at below-market rates.

From the Associated Press:

The Somerset Fuel Center opened to the public selling regular unleaded gas for $3.36 a gallon, a bit lower than some nearby competitors. In the first three hours, about 75 customers fueled up at the no-frills stations, where there are no snacks, no repairs and only regular unleaded gas.

Some criticized the move, with one convenience store owner saying, ”They’ve used the taxpayer money that I have paid them over these years to do this, to be against us. I do not see how they can’t see that as socialism.”

 (read more)

Submitted Jul 22, 2014 By:

In 20 Years, Most New Cars Won’t Have Steering Wheels or Pedals

Wired -- By 2030, most new cars will be made without rearview mirrors, horns, or emergency brakes. By 2035, they won’t have steering wheels or acceleration and brake pedals. They won’t need any of these things because they will be driving themselves.

That’s the takeaway from a new study by the Institute of Electronics and Engineers (IEEE). It’s based on a survey of more than 200 experts who work in the various industries that are slowly pushing us toward a future where humans are so much worse than robots are at driving, it’s not worth letting us even touch a steering wheel.

Automakers have made huge strides toward producing conventional cars that can drive themselves in select situations. A few of those will likely be on the market by the end of the decade or soon after.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 22, 2014 By:

Tesla Model S hack reportedly controls locks, horn, headlights while in motion

Ars Technica -- Tesla Motors officials vowed to investigate reports that its Model S sedan is susceptible to hacks that can remotely control the car’s locks, horn, headlights, and skylight while the car is in motion, according to a published report.
Further ReadingHow mobile app weakness could let hackers track and unlock a Tesla Model S

Lack of limits on wrong passwords, threats from third-party apps increase risks.
The hacks were carried out at the Syscan 360 security conference in Beijing, an article published by Bloomberg News reported. The report cited a brief post on Chinese social media site Weibo from a representative of China-based Qihoo 360 Technology Co., which said the experiment was carried out by members of the company's information technology department.

The news comes a week after  (read more)

Submitted Jul 22, 2014 By:

Oil prices rise above $104; natural gas sinks

AP -- Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.89 a gallon.
The price of oil rose more than a $1 for the third time in the last four trading days, and closed above $104 for the first time since July 3.
Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery rose $1.46 to $104.59 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract fell 6 cents to $103.13. Oil has gained 4.6 percent over the past four trading sessions.
Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, gained 44 cents to $107.68 on the ICE exchange in London.
Meanwhile, natural gas prices sank further below $4 on forecasts for cooler temperatures in parts of the U.S. Natural gas supplies haven’t been dropping as quickly this summer, as milder temperatures compared with last year reduce the need for homeowners to  (read more)

Submitted Jul 22, 2014 By:

Chicago issued motorists thousands of red light fines they didn't deserve

GasBuddy Blog -- The Chicago Tribune has announced a shocking finding: the City of Chicago has hit thousands of motorists with $100 red light fines that city officials themselves can't even explain. Results of the Tribune's investigation are indeed damning. According to the 10-month Tribune investigation, there appear to be more than 13,000 questionable tickets at 12 different intersections across the city. These 12 intersections experienced significant spikes in tickets, but even dozens more intersections also saw similar patterns.“Something is terribly amiss here,” said Joseph Schofer, an associate dean at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science who reviewed the Tribune's research....  (read more)

Submitted Jul 22, 2014 By:

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Redesigned Parking Sign So Simple That You’ll Never Get Towed

Wired -- Your car gets towed, and who do you blame? Yourself? God no, you blame that impossibly confusing parking sign. It’s a fair accusation, really. Of all the questionable communication tools our cities use, parking signs are easily among the worst offenders. There are arrows pointing every which way, ambiguous meter instructions and permit requirements. A sign will tell you that you can park until 8 am, then right below it another reading you’ll be towed. It’s easy to imagine that beyond basic tests for legibility, most of these signs have never been vetted by actual drivers.

Like most urban drivers, Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting tickets. During her time in Los Angeles, the now Brooklyn-based designer paid the city far more than she would’ve liked to. So she began thinking about how...  (read more)

Submitted Jul 21, 2014 By:

Watch Hyundai Demonstrate the 2015 Genesis’s Safety Features Unsafely in a Wild Commercial

Car and Driver -- The two-minute video, which was put on YouTube by TestDriven, is called the “The Empty Car Convoy” and demonstrates the 2015 Genesis sedan’s lane-keeping assist, radar cruise control, and emergency auto braking features in a rather clever way.  (read more)

Submitted Jul 21, 2014 By:

Cylinder Deactivation Heading to Three-Cylinder Engines

AutoEvolution -- Cylinder deactivation has been a great tool in recent years to help big, fuel-thirsty V-8s operate a little more efficiently at times, but one supplier could be developing a new system that could bring this technology to some of the littlest modern engines on the market. Engine technology supplier Schaeffler thinks that as automakers strive for maximum vehicle efficiency, the idea of a three-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation is a distinct possibility.

Vehicles like the Ford Fiesta, Mini Cooper and Mitsubishi Mirage already offer an I-3 engine in the U.S., and as these engines continue to grow in popularity, Schaeffler is looking for ways to keep these diminutive engines at their peak efficiency. Why the need to improve the efficiency of an already-efficient engine? Bob Zito, Sc  (read more)

Submitted Jul 21, 2014 By:

Speculators Cutting Bullish Oil Bets Miss Ukraine Rally

Bloomberg News -- The downed jetliner in Ukraine and Israel’s Gaza offensive blindsided speculators who had cut bullish crude bets on the assumption that risks to supply were diminishing.

Crude futures rose after money managers slashed net-long positions in West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark grade, by 15 percent in the seven days ended July 15, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said. It was the biggest drop in bullish wagers since March 2013.

“A lot of people were clearly caught off guard by events,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst for London-based Energy Aspects Ltd., a researcher, said by phone July 18.

Prices dropped below $100 on July 15 for the first time in two months as the conflict in Iraq spared the country’s main oil-producing region and rebels in Libya said they would reopen expo  (read more)

Submitted Jul 21, 2014 By:

Brent Swings as Supply Seen Safe Amid Russia Standoff; WTI Holds

Bloomberg News -- Brent swung between gains and losses amid speculation that the downing of a Malaysian Air jet will have no impact on supplies from Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter. West Texas Intermediate was steady in New York.

Futures were little changed in London after falling 0.6 percent on July 18. President Vladimir Putin faces pressure to respond after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there’s “extraordinary circumstantial evidence” that Russia provided the missile that Ukrainian rebels used to bring down Flight 17.

“We don’t expect really that the European Union or the international community to go so far that we’re going to see a disruption in energy supply,” Dominic Schnider, the Singapore-based head of commodities research at UBS AG’s wealth management unit, said in an interv  (read more)

Submitted Jul 21, 2014 By:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pipeline industry creating windfall for Texas

The Houston Chronicle -- The pipeline industry created a windfall for Texas’ economy in 2013, fueled by an oil and gas boom that’s driving demand for more infrastructure, according to a report for a trade group.

The industry provided $18.7 billion in gross state revenue and sustained more than 165,000 jobs, according to a study commissioned by the Texas Pipeline Association conducted at Texas Tech University.

Technological advances in drilling and well completion have unlocked more hydrocarbons from dense rock formations, causing a surge in Texas production and driving a need for additional infrastructure to transport the hydrocarbons from wells to refineries.

“Without pipelines, our energy production will decline … that production would go somewhere else,” Thure Cannon, president of the Texas Pipeline Associat  (read more)

Submitted Jul 20, 2014 By:

Gasoline prices driving Canadian inflation

CTV NEWS -- OTTAWA -- Inflation in Canada continues to defy the experts' expectations, exhibiting stubborn staying power in the face of a weak economy and even softer employment conditions.
Provincially, inflation rose the most in Ontario to three per cent as natural gas prices shot up 38.4 per cent from a year ago and gasoline rose 9.4 per cent. Quebec recorded the lowest inflation reading in the country at 1.7 per cent.
June's gains showed more broad-based pressure on prices. Energy, particularly gasoline and natural gas, continued to be main drivers with year-over-year gains of 5.4 per cent and 19.4 per cent over last June. Both, however, were higher in May and so represented a moderating, if still significant, influence on inflation.
For the second month in a row, the annual rate hit a new two-yea  (read more)

Submitted Jul 20, 2014 By:

70 MPH Speed Limits Coming for Part of Pa. Turnpike

Planck LLC -- For almost 100 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the speed limit is going up.

Starting July 23, the speed limit between Exit 201 and Exit 298 will be raised to 70 mph, the Turnpike Commission said Friday.

"Our studies have shown that the design of our system in this area can safely accommodate the higher speed limit,” said Pa. Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “But motorists must remember that it is their responsibly to drive safely and sensibly according to the traffic and weather conditions -– especially when the pavement is slick from precipitation or when visibility is limited."

Until the signage is changed, the speed limits remain as posted.
 (read more)

Submitted Jul 20, 2014 By:

Improving driver safety: How to prevent streetlight glare in the new world of LED lighting

Science Daily -- Long hours of nighttime driving can cause eyestrain because while our vision adapts to the surrounding darkness, the sudden stabs of brightness from streetlamps can be irritating, distracting and even painful. Even as LED technology has transformed the lighting industry, bringing the promise of more energy-efficient road illumination, some fear that the new lights could cause even more troublesome, unsafe glare.
A team of researchers from China and the Netherlands has developed a way to evaluate the human impact of uncomfortable glare caused by LED road lights. They created a model that can predict the level of discomfort experienced by drivers under various lighting conditions. The team today reported their findings, which could guide streetlight placement and design, in The Optical Socie  (read more)

Submitted Jul 20, 2014 By:

Vehicle Safety Recalls Explained

AutoEvolution -- You may have heard on the news or read on our website that the recall tally in the United States is breaking records this year, with 37.5 million cars called back in the first six months of 2014 over various non-compliance or safety defects. Naturally, this sort of situation shouldn't be taken lightly.

General Motors' ignition switch fiasco has been officially linked to 13 deaths and dozens of injured in vehicle crashes, while German manufacturer BMW has issued a recall involving almost the entire E46 3 Series production run due to a trigger malfunction with Takata-sourced airbags. Given the situation, we deem necessary to explain to our readers and fellow drivers how a glitch transmutes into a safety recall.

In the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the agency  (read more)

Submitted Jul 20, 2014 By: