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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Worse than salt, brine sprayed on roads will munch your car to pieces

Washington Post -- Your car — an investment second only to your home (unless you’ve paid college tuition) — is rotting out from under you.

You know why, and if you’re prudent you will line up at the carwash with everyone else after this weekend’s meteorological mayhem. But there’s something more insidious than the white salt caking your car from the window level on down.

Brine wants to eat through your car like a school of hungry piranhas, and more than 2 million gallons of the stuff has been sprayed on roads this winter in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District.

Are you just too sick of winter to read another story about it? Before you go, there are some things you’ve got to know about brine:

?The reasons you should love brine are the reasons your car hates it.
 (read more)

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Police: 75-vehicle pileup on I-95 largest chain-reaction crash in Maine

Bangor Daily News -- CARMEL, Maine — A combination of snow, speed and a busy morning commute Wednesday led to what may be the largest chain-reaction crash in state history.

Interstate 95 was shut down to northbound travel between Newport and Bangor for more than four hours after 75 vehicles slid, spun, slammed into each other and skidded off the snow-slickened highway.

“I’m absolutely shocked we don’t have any fatalities,” Maine State Police Lt. Sean Hashey, Troop E commander, said during a 2:30 p.m. press conference in Bangor shortly after the highway was reopened to traffic.

He said Hollywood movie makers could not have created a more disturbing scene.

“We had a lot of broken bones,” Hashey said later. “We had vehicles, literally, wedged together.”

Vehicles were heavily damaged in the collisions that st  (read more)

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Refinery strike and gas prices don’t mix… yet

WGNOabc -- A nationwide strike at U.S. oil refineries has reached Louisiana — impacting at least three plants and more than 850 workers. At the Shell Norco plant, the picket lines are up and there’s no sign of resolution.

United Steelworkers staff representative Brent Petit says he’s not sure how the plant is operating — or when there might be results from the negotiation table.

Tuesday afternoon, on Day 3 of the dispute, he said, “This is not about money. These are good-paying, well-paying jobs. But it doesn’t do any good to make a good salary if you’re not safe … You can’t work 500 or 600 thousand hours and not be tired.”

In an emailed statement to WGNO, Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said the USW is being “unreasonable” in demanding that Shell replace routine contractors with USW-...(VIDEO)  (read more)

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Striking refinery workers march along Main Street

THE COURIER -- The nationwide refinery workers’ strike came to downtown Findlay and Marathon Petroleum Corp. on Tuesday as 150 protesters marched and shouted for safer working conditions.

Over 70 striking workers from Marathon’s refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, and over 50 strikers from the BP Toledo refinery were joined by other unionized workers in a rally and march along South Main Street. They braved subzero wind chills during the hour-long spectacle.

“Our numbers have been dwindling across the nation, and we just know this is a fight for safety,” said Dave Martin, a worker at Marathon’s Catlettsburg refinery and vice president of the United Steelworkers union local there. “It’s a fight for getting our refineries staffed like they should be, doing the things that should be done at our...(VIDEO)  (read more)

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Trucker Ran for Life After Stranding Truck on Tracks

ABC News -- Oxnard, CA--A driver who abandoned his pickup truck on railroad tracks before a fiery crash with a commuter train made repeated attempts to get the vehicle off the rails and then ran for his life as the train approached. The crossing has been the site of many crashes.

Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez accidentally drove onto the tracks and made the situation worse by continuing forward in an attempt to get enough speed to get his wide pickup over the rails, attorney Ron Bamieh said. When that effort failed, he tried to push the truck and then fled before the impact.

Police said Ramirez was trying to turn right at an intersection just beyond the crossing, but he made the turn too soon, drove onto the tracks before the crossing arms came down and got stuck.

Other drivers have done the same  (read more)

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New York towns want to leave state over fracking ban

Petro Global News -- Fifteen small towns in New York have threatened to secede from the state and join Pennsylvania in response to a state wide fracking ban signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last December.

The towns are concerned that the fracking ban will hurt local job markets and depress funding for local schools and governments.

All fifteen towns are located in the state’s Southern Tier that sits on a portion of the Marcellus Shale play.

“The Southern Tier is desolate. We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground, Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch told WBNG-TV last Wendesday.

The Upstate New York Towns Association, an organization that all fifteen towns belong to, is putting together a report to determine if the towns can join Pennsylvania.

Joining Pennsylvania would...  (read more)

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Defying Republicans in Congress, Obama vetoes bill forcing approval of Keystone XL pipeline

Star Tribune -- WASHINGTON — Defying the Republican-run Congress, President Barack Obama rejected a bill Tuesday to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency.

Obama offered no indication of whether he'll eventually issue a permit for the pipeline, whose construction has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate about environmental policy and climate change. Instead, Obama sought to reassert his authority to make the decision himself, rebuffing GOP lawmakers who will control both the House and Senate for the remainder of the president's term.

"The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in a brief notice delivered to the Senate. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Refinery workers protest at Marathon headquarters

THE BLADE -- As the nationwide oil refinery strike moves deeper into its fourth week refinery workers demonstrated outside Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Findlay headquarters on Tuesday, trying to put increased pressure on one of the nation’s largest refiners.

“Having their world headquarters situated so close to us, we were in a unique position” said Jonathan Cathers, an official with the United Steelworkers Local 1-346, which represents workers at the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery in Oregon.

“We wanted to use that to our advantage and let them know we were here and we wanted to have our voice heard” he said

Union officials said about 200 people joined the demonstration, including two busloads of striking workers from Marathon’s refinery in Catlettsburg Ky. More than 60 workers from the Oregon refinery...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

The 13.5% jump in gas prices is hurting consumer confidence

Business Insider -- Without a lot of fanfare, average gasoline prices bottomed at the end of January and have been rising steadily ever since.

They’re still a lot lower than they were a year ago, from $0.89 per gallon lower on the West Coast to $1.24 lower in New England, according to the EIA.

But the turnaround has been swift.

Numbers vary, depending on who is doing the counting. According to the AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price for regular hit $2.312 today, up 1.1 cents from yesterday, and up 27.5 cents from a month ago. That’s a jump of 13.5%.

But it isn’t evenly spread across the nation: the EIA found that gas prices in New York rose only 5% from the bottom; in Ohio, they soared 24%.

Gasoline prices tend to rise in late winter. But this time, months of plunging gas prices – a function  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

EIA: Crude inventories spike, gasoline inventories plummet

GasBuddy Blog -- The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

Crude oil inventories increased by 8.4 million barrels to a total of 434.1 million barrels. At 434.1 million barrels, inventories are 71.7 million barrels above last year (19.8%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 3.1 million barrels to 240.0 million barrels. At 240.0 million barrels, inventories are up 9.4 million barrels, or 4.1% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-0.8mb); Midwest (-0.7mb); Gulf Coast (-0.3mb); Rockies (N/C); and West Coast (-1.2mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices u  (read more)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

For many, cash saved at gas pump is staying in pockets

St. Paul Pioneer Press-AP -- In recent months, the stage seemed set for American consumers to do what they've traditionally done best: Spend money -- and drive the economy.

The lowest gas prices in five years had given people more spending money. Employers added over 1 million jobs from November through January, the best three-month pace in 17 years. Businesses even raised pay in December. Economists had forecast that last week's retail sales report for January would show a healthy rise.

And yet -- to the surprise of analysts -- consumers have held their wallets closely.

Even though Americans spent $6.7 billion less at gas stations in January than they had two months earlier, the extra cash didn't get spent anywhere else: Retail sales, excluding gas, fell slightly from November to January.

 (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:

Oil back below $50 as OPEC hopes fade


Any hopes of a sustained rally in the price of oil disappeared Tuesday morning as doubts were raised over an anticipated cut in production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The oil cartel is not due to meet until June this year but a report by the Financial Times - with comments by Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Nigerian oil minister - suggested that an emergency meeting was due in the near term. This raised hopes that OPEC could cut production, something it had refused to do back at its last meeting in November 2014.

An anonymous delegate from the group denied these claims, telling Bloomberg overnight there was no emergency meeting planned. Brent crude futures dropped to 58.56 a barrel by 8:00 a.m. GMT on Tuesday and U.S. crude was back at $48.97 a barrel  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:

California to cut tax on gasoline by 6c/gal effective July 1

GasBuddy Blog -- Here's one you don't hear everyday: California's Board of Equalization is looking at lowering the excise tax that motorists pay on a gallon of gasoline in the state. At this writing, the Board of Equalization is meeting, likely to make a decision to cut 7.5 cents per gallon off the amount of tax Californians pay on gasoline.

Since 2010, the “fuel tax swap” law has required the Board to adjust the tax rate by March 1st of each year. If adopted, between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the excise tax rate on gasoline will be $0.285 per gallon. The current excise tax rate of $0.36 is in effect until June 30, 2015.

Board of Equalization Member George Runner says he wants to put more money back into consumers' pockets. "Right now, what it really means is that people are overpaying their taxes, and that doesn't make a lot of sense. And when we discover that people are overpaying their taxes, we need to try to stop that as soon as possible, and  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:

Battered by freeze, U.S. refineries try to rebound before next chill

Reuters -- Major U.S. East Coast refineries were still working to restore operations on Monday, several days after severe cold weather triggered unit outages and drove up home heating oil futures on fears of tight supplies.

The refineries, which account for more than two-thirds of production in the region, got a brief reprieve from the burst of cold weather on Sunday, but another front with sub-zero temperatures is expected to sweep through late on Monday.

New York futures for ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) - used for heating in much of the Northeast - extended Friday's sharp gains in early trading, rising by another 4 percent on expectations of increased demand and supply worries.

Monroe Energy, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines Inc, restarted the fluid catalytic catcracker at its 185,000-barrel-per  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:

Ford launches 17-city 'EcoBoost Challenge' test-drive tour

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..autoevolution.comFord Motor Company is once again giving fans and potential customers in 17 cities across America a chance to get behind the wheel of its latest products, with its third EcoBoost® Challenge consumer drive tour launching next month.EcoBoost Challenge expands to 17 cities in 2015, and will provide five unique drive experiences in Ford products. Additionally, participants will have an opportunity to win an EcoBoost-powered 2015 Ford Edge, and can earn additional entries in the sweepstakes by bringing guests with them to the event.Kicking off March 7 at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, EcoBoost Challenge gets consumers behind the wheel of some of Ford’s most popular vehicles, including back-to-back drives with competitor vehicles. More than 28,000 people took part in last year’s EcoBoost Challenge. ...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 24, 2015 By:

Monday, February 23, 2015

USGS: Fracking is the cause of earthquakes in Oklahoma

KFOR -- OKLAHOMA — It’s the million dollar question in Oklahoma: What’s causing all the earthquakes?

There have been a lot of theories about fracking causing earthquakes. But now, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says that fracking, is indeed, to blame.

The debate about the cause of earthquakes in Oklahoma has really heated up within the last year. But now, the USGS is making strong statements about what they believe is the root of the problem.

A press release states, “… the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas…”

For some, that could end the debate. But Kim Hatfield, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, says not so fast.

“I don’t think it’s particularly helpful because basically, it says we’  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:

North American oil output keeps on rising

The National -- The latest news from North America is not encouraging for the world’s major oil exporters.

The recent sharp reduction in oil rig counts in use has levelled off.

At the same time, US domestic production continues to rise while imports from Canada also are rising again.

The net result for Opec is falling demand for their crude in the US, which means the fight for market share elsewhere continues to intensify.

Last week, data from the oil services company Baker Hughes showed that oil rigs in use fell by 37 to 1,109. That is the lowest number in use since mid-2011 after an unprecedentedly sharp fall since the end of last year.

But the rate of decline in rig use has slowed and production at the largest fields in the booming US shale sector has actually increased even as more marginal...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:

California to spend $20 million on building part of 'hydrogen highway'

Los Angeles times -- I's been more than a decade since former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly talked about his dream of building a "hydrogen highway" that would speed fleets of non-polluting cars from Mexico to Canada.
The vision never materialized anywhere other than in the governor's upbeat, eco-friendly speeches.

Now, finally, a modest form of Schwarzenegger's highway might actually become a reality.
The California Energy Commission reports that it's spending $20 million to build nearly half of the approximately 100 stations needed to give a driver of a hydrogen car enough range to travel freely through most parts of the Golden State.

So far, only about 10 stations are operational, mostly in the Los Angeles and the San Francisco areas, servicing only a couple of hundred hydrogen-powered cars running  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:

Obama’s Expected Keystone Pipeline Veto Is Likely to Be the First in a Wave

New York Times -- WASHINGTON — Wielding the weapon of his pen, President Obama this week is expected to formally reject a Republican attempt to force construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But in stopping the transit of petroleum from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Obama will be opening the veto era of his presidency.

The expected Keystone veto, the third and most significant of Mr. Obama’s six years in office, would most likely be followed by presidential vetoes of bills that could emerge to make changes in the Affordable Care Act, impose new sanctions on Iran and roll back child nutrition standards, among others.

For Mr. Obama, his Cross Townsend black roller-ball pen will become an extension of his second-term strategy to act alone in the face of Republican opposition and safeguar  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:

Oil prices fall as dollar strengthens and oversupply adds pressure

Reuters --

Oil prices fell on Monday as worries about oversupply in North America and a strong dollar pushed Brent futures towards $59 a barrel and U.S. contracts below $49 a barrel.

After an initial rise along with global markets on optimism that another euro zone crisis over Greek debt had been averted for now, prices began dipping as analysts said crude markets remained oversupplied, especially in the United States.

"The term structure of oil continues to weaken and inventories keep piling up," Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

Brent crude was trading $1.70 lower at $58.52 by 8:12 a.m EDT. Benchmark U.S. WTI crude April futures were trading down $1.92 at $48.89 a barrel.

WTI's March futures settled at $50.34 a barrel on Friday, expiring as the front-month contract.

The dollar wa  (read more)

Submitted Feb 23, 2015 By:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Say Goodbye to $2 Gas

Fox news -- It’s almost over for $2 gas.

Gasoline prices across much of America hit the milestone in December and January following oil’s collapse. The national average even came awfully close, falling as far as $2.026 based on data from

But U.S. oil prices have bounced up from recent lows, thanks to fewer active rigs and an anticipated decline in supply. West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded around $50.51 a barrel Friday. Just three weeks ago, futures dipped below $44 a barrel.

Prices at the pump are now climbing back. The national average of $2.27 a gallon is nearly 23 cents more than the same day last month, according to GasBuddy. There’s still good news for drivers, as gas prices remain $1.11 cheaper year-over-year.

Slight relief could return once refineries complete the  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:

Shell reveals what it says is the sticking point in labor talks

Fuel Fix -- Hours after the United Steelworkers said it would expand its strike to 15 refineries and plants nationwide, Shell Oil, which is bargaining on behalf of the industry took aim at the union.

Late Saturday, Shell released what it said are excerpts of a note to employees

The central issue blocking a settlement is not safety, fatigue, healthcare or wages, the statement said.

It is the union’s demand that Shell replace routine maintenance contractors with union-represented employees. Shell called that unreasonable, saying using contractors in those jobs allows needed flexibility.

Shell says: “We’re open to a variety of ways to maintain a strong roster of skilled craftsmen available to each of our locations. But hiring flexibility is a proven way to protect our core Shell workforce and the...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:

U.S. refinery strike spreads to one-fifth of national capacity

Reuters -- HOUSTON (Reuters) - The largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years entered its fourth week as workers at 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of national production capacity were walking picket lines as of 12 a.m. CST (0600 GMT) on Sunday, according to union officials.

A total of 6,550 members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) at 15 plants, including the 12 refineries, are involved in the work stoppage that began on Feb. 1 when talks for a new three-year contract between the USW and lead oil company negotiator Shell Oil Co stopped.

Talks were resumed but have halted again after nearly reaching an agreement on Friday, said sources familiar with the negotiations.

After the latest breakdown between the two sides, Steelworkers leaders targeted Shell, which is the U.S. arm of Royal Dutc  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:

Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

ABC News -- The federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S.

The projection comes from a previously unreported analysis by the Department of Transportation that reviewed the risks of moving vast quantities of both fuels across the nation and through major cities. The study completed last July took on new relevance this week after a train loaded with crude derailed in West Virginia, sparked a spectacular fire and forced the evacuation of hundreds of families.

Monday's accident was the latest in a spate of fiery derailments, and senior federal officials said it ...  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By:

Oil tankers idle for months off Delaware waters, puzzling some

Reuters -- Late last November, the tanker Olympic Flag carrying 650,000 barrels of Angolan crude dropped anchor about 7 miles off the coast in Delaware Bay, a seemingly routine shipment destined for a nearby Philadelphia refinery.

What happened next was anything but routine. Instead of discharging its cargo within days and heading off for the next port, the ship idled offshore for nearly 11 weeks, discharging the oil at an unaccountably slow rate, according to shipping sources as well as vessel tracking data on ThomsonReuters Eikon.

That vessel finally set sail two weeks ago - but by then it had already been joined by five more idling tankers, an unusual and costly congregation that has puzzled experts and traders. All the vessels arrived by mid-January, and four of them are expected to stay in the  (read more)

Submitted Feb 22, 2015 By: