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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

At OPEC Meeting, Saudi Arabia Stares Down Texas and North Dakota

BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK -- On Thanksgiving Day, what used to be the world’s most powerful oil cartel will gather in Vienna to decide how much oil to produce. Right around the time that the Bears and Lions are getting underway at in Detroit, delegates of the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will finish a closed-door meeting and announce to the world how much oil they intend to collectively pump over the next year.

In another setting, a group of people who sell the same product getting together to talk about ways to manipulate prices would be seen as blatant collusion. But this is OPEC—that’s basically the whole point. The founding premise back in 1960 was to wrest control of oil production—and the ability to set prices—from the handful of large Western oil companies that had taken over much...  (read more)

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Lower Gas Prices Help Thanksgiving Travel

WSPD -- COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) It will be busy on the highways and at the airport this Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA predicts 46.3 million Americans, including nearly 1.89 million Ohioans, will travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday.

"That's an increase of 4.2 percent nationwide and 4.5 percent for Ohio from last year and marks the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2007," said AAA Ohio's Kimberly Schwind.

The overall economic picture has improved since last year, which is helping to drive the increase in Thanksgiving travel. Falling gas prices have also improved consumer spending power this year. Ohio’s average gas price fell below $3 a gallon Oct. 24, for the first time since Dec. 2010. Since then, motorists have enjoyed multi-year lows at the pump.  (read more)

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Lawmakers considering options for funding transportation projects; gas tax hike among ideas

FOX BUSINESS-AP -- New Jersey lawmakers continue to weigh a number of options aimed at paying for transportation projects across the state, including some that could hit drivers' wallets when they go to fill their gas tanks.

One problem with the state's transportation trust fund is that all the money the state sets aside for it goes toward paying down existing debt. Meanwhile, the program to finance roads and bridges also includes debt — a combination of bonds and cash from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie want to reach an agreement for transportation funding by July 1, when officials will have to decide whether to take on more debt or abandon new projects.

A closer look at options being discussed and how they could affect residents.
 (read more)

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Oil price could fall to $60 if OPEC does not cut output this week

Reuters/Financial Post -- LONDON — Oil prices could plunge to $60 a barrel if OPEC does not agree a significant output cut when it meets in Vienna this week, market players say.

Brent crude futures have fallen 34% since June to touch a four-year low of $76.76 a barrel on Nov. 14, and could tumble further if OPEC does not agree to cut at least 1 million barrels per day (bpd), commodity fund managers say.

“The market would question the credibility of OPEC and its influence on global oil markets if there was no cut,” said Daniel Bathe, of Lupus alpha Commodity Invest Fund.  (read more)

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Brimming with swagger, U.S. oil producers adopt drill on mantra as OPEC power wanes

Bloomberg News -- The U.S. has the most to gain and the least to lose as Saudi gathers with its OPEC allies this week to discuss the cartel’s response to falling crude prices

For the oil industry, a significant production cut by the OPEC would lift prices and profits across the board and help finance further U.S. energy innovation. And while a weaker OPEC response — or no move — would put more pressure on energy companies, the industry is increasingly insulated by burgeoning N Am output. Either way, U.S. producers already know what they’re going to do: drill on

“The technological advances we’ve made underpin virtually everything right now

The swagger of U.S. producers in the face of plunging oil prices shows the confidence they’ve gained from upending OPEC’s 6 decades of market dominance with technology  (read more)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Russia to lose up to $140b a year on sanctions, cheaper oil oil price to cost Russia $90-100b a year ; Cost of Western sanctions put at $40b -- Lower oil prices and Western financial sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis will cost Russia around $130-140 billion (Dh477 billion to Dh514 billion) a year — equivalent to around seven per cent of its economy — Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Monday.

His comments are the latest acknowledgement by Russian policymakers that sanctions restricting borrowing abroad by major Russian companies are imposing heavy economic costs. But in Siluanov’s view, the fall in oil prices is the bigger worry.

“We’re losing around $40 billion a year because of geopolitical sanctions, and about $90 billion to $100 billion from oil prices falling by 30 per cent,” he told a news conference.

“The main issue that affects the budget and economy and financial system, this is the price of oil and the...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Coastal storm, including snow, on the menu for some Thanksgiving travelers along East Coast

Star Tribune -- MINEOLA, N.Y. — A nor'easter is expected to develop Wednesday along the East Coast just as millions of travelers are heading to their Thanksgiving destinations.

"I would pack your patience," said Robert Sinclair Jr., of AAA New York.

The storm, forecast to dump rain along the coast and snow inland, could cause delays at Northeast airports and along its busy highways. Precipitation was forecast to sweep in from the south Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and exit the region Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for Weather Underground, said coastal cities are likely to mostly receive rain, although he cautioned Monday afternoon that meteorologists would be keeping a close eye on the rain/snow line.

"A small deviation in the track could change things dramatically," he sa  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Top Ten Thanksgiving Travel Tips

GasBuddy Blog -- Thanksgiving travelers are about to tip their farewell hats and begin their road trips, and just in time, GasBuddy is offering some foolproof ways to make it to your destination even cheaper!

Here's our list of the Top Ten Thanksgiving Travel Tips:
Download and use the FREE GasBuddy app to shop for the cheapest gas prices, no matter where you're running low on fuel. (I'm hoping that most of you already have the free app, seeing how you're reading this on GasBuddy's website). If you'd like to share the app with a friend, give them this link:
Watch those state lines!! EEK! Did you know crossing from Missouri into Illinois the taxes on every gallon of gasoline jumps over 20 cents per gallon? In turn, you'll pay way more if you wait until you're in Illinois to fill up! Or when you leave California and hit Arizona the gas tax drops over 30 cents per gallon? New Jersey's gas tax is almost 30 cents per gallon lower than  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Fire drill in Tempe highlights natural gas dangers Arizona Republic -- The hood of a blue car slowly began melting as a loud fire slowly overtook the vehicle and firefighters stood watch nearby waiting for the fire to grow as the telltale 'raw egg' odor of natural gas became more potent.

The scene at a Tempe facility near Kyrene Road and Baseline Road had all the sights sounds and smells of a disaster but firefighters and paramedics from throughout the Valley were practicing to prepare for a rare event that became a reality in a Gilbert neighborhood earlier this year.

Monday's demonstration was the first of three annual hazardous materials evaluations that firefighters will participate in before the end of the year and tested firefighters on their ability to control natural gas fires. The burning car in Monday's exercise was ignited with natural gas but,...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Driver cleared in GM ignition switch accident

General Motors has confirmed that a car accident involving a Texas woman is linked to the company's faulty ignition switch issue.

Candice Anderson pleaded guilty to criminally-negligent homicide in 2004 after she lost control of her Saturn Ion and hit a tree, killing her fiancé Gene Erickson.

An email sent by a GM lawyer on Sunday confirmed that Anderson's accident was counted by the company as an ignition switch accident, according to Dow Jones.

2.5 million vehicles were recalled by GM earlier this year due to this defect. The company determined that the ignition switch could be jostled from "run" to "accessory" while in motion thereby cutting power from the electric steering and air bags. Candice Anderson has lived with this Anderson's attorney wrongful conviction for too long  (read more)

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Opec a shadow of its former self

Times LIVE-The Sunday Telegraph -- In 1976, Saudi Arabia's former oil minister, Ahmed Zaki Yamani, stormed out of the Opec gathering early when other members of the cartel would not comply with the wishes of his new master, King Khaled.

The 166th meeting of the group, in Vienna next week, is looking like it could end in a similarly acrimonious way, with Saudi Arabia and several other members at loggerheads over what to do about falling oil prices.

Whatever action Opec agrees to take to halt the sharp decline in the price of crude, experts agree that one thing is clear: the world is entering an era of lower oil prices that the group is almost powerless to change.

This new energy paradigm might result in oil trading at much less than the $100 (R1100) a barrel that consumers have grown used to paying over the past decade...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 24, 2014 By:

While U.S. feasts on cheap oil, OPEC nations likely to squabble

The Columbus Dispatch -- Thanksgiving is a time of reflection on resources and relatives, even for one group of a dozen oil-producing countries that won’t observe the holiday this week.

The free fall in oil prices has led to billions of dollars staying in U.S. consumers’ pockets instead of pumped into their gas tanks just as the holiday spending season gets underway. Since June oil prices have fallen 30 percent. While OPEC nations aren’t about to cry poverty, the cartel will be working in the new week to stop the drop.

OPEC oil ministers meet on Thursday but not for a Thanksgiving feast. Instead, the powers that control almost 40 percent of world oil production will argue over how much oil they are pumping and if they should pump less of it. But like many extended family gatherings for the holiday, there will...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 24, 2014 By:

Falling apart: America's neglected infrastructure

CBS News -- Our roads and bridges are crumbling, our airports are out of date and the vast majority of our seaports are in danger of becoming obsolete.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 24, 2014 By:

Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

NY Times -- For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show  (read more)

Submitted Nov 24, 2014 By:

GasBuddy Says: Give Thanks For Gas Prices 44 Cents Lower Than Last Year

GasBuddy Blog -- With the U.S. average price of gasoline at $2.80 today, the national average is at its lowest level since December 2010. Especially this week, Americans should be grateful that 80% of the nation’s gas stations are reporting prices under $3/ gal. today, compared to just 22% at this time in 2013.

“While many of us are convinced that gas prices automatically go up in advance of every travel holiday, our price tracking has proven that to be a widely-held misconception,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “In some years we’ve seen occasions, particularly during the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel periods, when prices remained flat or even posted a decline.”...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 24, 2014 By:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

'Counterfeit' tires pose consumer risk

Consumer Reports: -- What began as a routine tire test became a journey through a maze of deception, finger-pointing, and a lack of accountability that in itself could prove dangerous if the product should prove to be defective.

When it comes to safety and performance, Consumer Reports has long said that you shouldn’t skimp on tires. That’s what we discovered once again when we recently tested three sets of Chinese-branded all-season truck tires that cost as little as $89 apiece in our test size, 265/70R17. All three of these bargain-bin tires landed at the bottom of our Ratings, in part because of their performance in our winter-condition test, as well as so-so to poor tread life. The surprise came when the owner and distributor of one set of the tires alleged that the tires we tested were “gray market”—that  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

Flurry of B.C. court battles threaten to drive away investment

The Globe and Mail -- A flurry of court cases has tied up more than $25B worth of resource projects this year as FN, environmental groups and others battle pipelines, mines, a dam and a coal port – a situation that some observers fear will drive away investment

Executive VP/CPO for the Business Council of BC worries BC's reputation could suffer if the wave of litigation continues

“The No.1 reason why investors are reluctant to invest in BC is because of the FN land-uncertainty question

One of the reasons for all the legal action is that the government is not doing enough to protect the environment

One way to restore public confidence and cut down on the litigation would be for the province to get out of the agreement that authorizes the NEB to approve Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipeline proposa  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

NC motorists see lowest gas prices in 5 years

More North Carolinians are heading over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving, and they will find the trip won't cost nearly as much as it has recently.

AAA Carolinas says 1,345,000 North Carolinians are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home. About 1,210,500 of those travelers will drive, an increase of about 48,600 than last year. They will be enjoying the lowest gas prices in five years.

Gas prices in North Carolina are averaging $2.77, down 57 cents from Labor Day. Residents also are paying 46 cents less at the pump compared to last Thanksgiving.

AAA Carolinas President and CEO David Parsons says lower gas prices have encouraged more people to travel for Thanksgiving.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

China Needs 1,000 Nuclear Reactors to Fulfill Its Climate Pledge

Bloomberg News -- China, which does nothing in small doses, will need about 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms as it takes up the fight against climate change.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

For Google's self-driving cars, learning to deal with the bizarre is essentia

Star Tribune -- In 700,000 miles of navigating roads, Google's self-driving cars have encountered just about everything -- including an elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair flailing a broom at a duck she was chasing around the street.

Apparently perplexed and taking no chances, the vehicle stopped and refused to go farther.

Through extensive testing covering nearly every street in Google's hometown of Mountain View, Calif., the company's 20 or so autonomous vehicles have developed an abiding sense of caution. Google researchers concede it will take more experience on the roads before the autos can learn to cope with every situation without becoming bewildered and shutting down, stranding passengers. When that happens now, researchers have to take the wheel and step on the gas.

One of the most surpri  (read more)

Submitted Nov 23, 2014 By:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

'America loves you': Jay Leno surprises wounded veteran with new car

Today / NBC News -- Behind every salute and every handshake from a soldier, there's a great story. Jay Leno set out to share one of those stories, and went above and beyond to show his appreciation for their service — by giving a soldier a brand new car.

"We took all these wounded warriors and did sort of a lottery and reached in and picked a soldier at random (to) do something for him and hopefully it expresses what we want to do for all the soldiers," Leno said.

That soldier was Cpl. Ethan Laberge. Laberge had been on foot patrol in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber drove up and detonated himself, seriously injuring Leberge and killing two fellow soldiers who had been standing with him.

..Leno had just the thing for Leberge: a ride in a 2015 Dodge SRT Hellcat.

When Leno asked Leberge if he wanted to tak  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

Robin Hooders" pay expired meters

usa today -- The self-styled "Robin Hooders" race to the rescue of the parking peasantry, pumping quarters into their expired meters and leaving behind cards informing them they have been saved from "the king's tariff."

Nobody, not even the king - in this case the quaint New Hampshire college town of Keene - disputes their right to use pocket change as political capital in what they view as a fight against government oppression.

But city officials say the not-so-merry band leaves behind more than cards with a cartoon Robin Hood and a suggestion to pay their good deed forward: stressed-out parking enforcement officers. And now the New Hampshire Supreme Court is deliberating if there is a line to be drawn between protecting free speech rights and protecting government employees from harassment.  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

Toyota Unveils Hydrogen-Powered 2016 Mirai

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..caranddriver.comToyota has unveiled a mid-size car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells, joining some of its rivals as they mark a new foray into alternative powertrains.The world’s top seller of cars and trucks said this week the 2016 Mirai will be available starting in the fall of 2015. Toyota expects to make only 700 of the vehicles next year. The Mirai—a Japanese word that translates to “future”—will be rolled out at select dealers that have hydrogen fueling stations nearby.Toyota hopes the Mirai can attract drivers in the same way its Prius helped pave the way for hybrids and electric cars after launching in 1997. In five or six years, the automaker hopes to boost sales to the tens of thousands....  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

EPA Delays Decision on Ethanol in Gas

ABC News -- Last year the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel for the first time, acknowledging that a biofuel law that both Republicans and Democrats had championed nearly a decade ago was not working as well as expected.

A final decision was due before the end of the year on the already-delayed standards, but the EPA said Friday the final rule will now come in 2015.

The ethanol targets are required by a 2007 law that tried to address global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the rural economy by requiring oil companies to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into gasoline annually. But lawmakers did not anticipate fuel economy would improve as much as it has in recent years, reducing overall demand for gasoline.

 (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By:

Safe home heating: Eight tips to stay alive this winter -- There is more to home heating than the price of natural gas or electricity. And what you don't know can be fatal.

There is more to worry about winter heating than the price of natural gas or electricity. And what you don't know can be fatal.

Here are eight heating safety tips, courtesy of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Consumer Reports:

>Have the furnace inspected and if necessary tuned up every fall. And ask for an inspection of the chimney or PVC exhaust piping now used to vent high-efficiency furnaces.

>Never use an oven to heat the house. Most household ovens are not vented, and incomplete combustion can produce carbon monoxide, an orderless killer.

> Make sure chimneys and vent pipes for fireplaces and wood stoves are in good shape, not clogged and will not leak...  (read more)

Submitted Nov 22, 2014 By: