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Saturday, April 18, 2015

46
votes
Is Big Brother a backseat driver?

TRIBLIVE -- Question: I've seen information on TV about how insurance companies can supposedly track how a car is driven. How much information is available about my car and personal choices to someone who is capable of snooping?
Answer: This is a large concern for many people. I'm familiar with what is possible to obtain from a vehicle's data link connector but don't have the resources to be sure of the extent to which it may be collected and used, beyond the examples below.
The onboard diagnostics data link connector beneath the instrument panel of vehicles made in 1996 and on, an OBD-II, can provide two types of information: federally mandated generic diagnostic information and manufacturer-specific, all-vehicle information. Easily acquired data include a couple of dozen powertrain parameters...  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1461 Comments

43
votes
New Artificial Photosynthesis Can Convert CO2 Into Useful Substances

Market Journals -- A new method of artificial photosynthesis can easily convert the byproduct in to useful products like biodegradable plastics, liquid fuels and pharmaceuticals. The system can convert carbon dioxide and water into acetate using a hybrid system of semiconducting nano-wires and bacteria, which mimics the photosynthetic process. Acetate acts as a versatile building block in both chemical and biological systems that can then be synthesized into more complex molecules.

In order to remove the CO2 greenhouse gas from power stations and provide an alternate to store it underground. It can rather be used to produce useful substances.
 (read more)

Submitted Today By:
1252 Comments

41
votes
Obama's EPA Rule Is Redrawing the U.S. Coal Map

bloomberg,com -- America’s oldest coal plants are retiring like they’re Baby Boomers, and some of them are the same age. About 17 percent of U.S. coal-fired power generation will vanish in the next few years — some 7.5 percent this year alone, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Obstacles facing coal plants include their age, the abundance of cheap natural gas and a new EPA rule that begins taking effect April 16.

The new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards requires that coal plant owners limit poisons such as mercury, arsenic, and metals, which have previously freely spilled into the atmosphere and waterways.

The Supreme Court will weigh in on the rules at the end of this term. But with plants this old and gas this cheap, most of these plants are set for closure or conversion to gas, regardless.

 (read more)

Submitted Today By:
857 Comments

40
votes
Les Pétroles Global Inc fined $1 million for fixing gas prices

FINANCIAL POST -- Quebec’s Superior Court in Sherbrooke has fined Les Pétroles Global Inc. $1 million for its role in a gasoline price-fixing conspiracy.

In 2013, the Ontario-based company was found guilty of taking part in a “cartel” of retailers that fixed prices in Victoriaville, Sherbrooke and Magog in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

Les Pétroles Global was charged in June 2008, following an investigation by Canada’s Competition Bureau.

“Businesses that conspire to fix prices drive up costs for consumers,” Commissioner of Competition John Pecman said in a news release Friday. “This fine demonstrates that the risks and penalties of not complying with the law can be very damaging.”

This case was part of a larger investigation that resulted in charges against 39 individuals and 15 companies in 2008, 2010  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
732 Comments

40
votes
It's official: GM's new 200-mile electric car will be called the Chevrolet Bolt EV Read more: http:

Business Insider -- Well, they did it.

General Motors confirmed yesterday that its upcoming 200-mile battery-electric car will be named the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

That's Bolt-with-a-B, not Volt-with-a-V.

An all-new second-generation Volt will go into production later this year as a 2016 model, while the Bolt-with-a-B will enter production roughly a year later and go on sale as a 2017 model.

The name Bolt had been widely criticized as too similar to Volt, especially since many Spanish speakers pronounce the letter V as a B to start with.

In a statement e-mailed to The Detroit News, Chevy director of communications Mike Albano confirmed the name.

The statement said, in part:

"Since unveiling the Bolt EV three months ago, the name has quickly become associated with Chevrolet. Therefore, we will use the name w  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
313 Comments

Friday, April 17, 2015

40
votes
World’s longest well drilled in Russia’s Far East

RT -- Russia’s Rosneft is reporting it has finished drilling the world’s longest oil well at the Chayvo field, part of the Sakhalin-1 project. The use of unique ExxonMobil technology is one of the key factors behind the record.

The new well has a record breaking depth of 13,500 meters and a horizontal reach of 12,033 meters. It was drilled using the Orlan platform according to a company statement released on Tuesday. The Sakhalin-1 Consortium now has 9 of the 10 longest wells in the world.

“This well continues successful implementation of our outstanding project” Igor Sechin the Head of Rosneft said. “I would like to express my thanks to our partners – ExxonMobil. Usage of their drilling technologies made this achievement possible.”

Sakhalin-1 set two world records for measured depth wells...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1590 Comments

39
votes
Getting Your Lawn Equipment Ready for the Season

Time -- I learned the hard way that lawnmower gas goes stale over the winter, so now I use gasoline additive in my mower, string trimmer, snow blower, and generator. But my neighbor says it’s better to burn the tank dry. Is that true?

The reason that gas gets “stale” and can gum up power equipment engines is that it contains ethanol, which absorbs water. That water can damage the engines of non-road equipment, says Kris Kiser, of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, a trade association.

Most gas-station gas contains 10% ethanol, thanks to a 2007 federal mandate designed to reduce carbon emissions. And 15% ethanol is now being sold at some stations, but only for cars built in 2001 or later.

It actually turns out that ethanol doesn’t provide nearly the environmental benefit that was expected—an  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
602 Comments

37
votes
Democrats make uphill push for gas tax increase

USA Today -- Democrats, contractors and unions are pressing Congress to raise the gas tax to fund the Highway Trust Fund despite opposition from key Republicans that makes any increase unlikely.

On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, urged members of the Transportation Construction Coalition — a group of trade associations and construction unions — to lobby members of Congress for a long-term funding plan for the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to expire May 31.

The Highway Trust Fund is the primary source for federal highway and transit programs funding for local, state and national projects. It is funded by the federal gas tax — currently set at 18.4 cents per gallon — which hasn't been raised since 1993. In the past six years,  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1871 Comments

35
votes
Smartphone app hopes to ID and expedite needed car repairs

GasBuddy Blog -- A new service aims to tell drivers about breakdowns before they happen, and automatically get bids on the repairs from local service shops.The service, Openbay Connect, uses a smart phone app to read alerts from vehicles' onboard computers. The goal is to present the driver with a diagnosis and a guaranteed price, service time and ratings on repair shops.  The driver won't "have to lift a finger," Openbay CEO Rob Infantino said. "Openbay Connect will remotely determine cause, cost and availability to perform the repair by local mechanics, answering virtually every driver's need for efficient, affordable auto repair service." ...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1286 Comments

34
votes
Offshore wells buried during Hurricane Ivan have been leaking oil into the Gulf since 2004

AP via Fuel Fix -- Down to just one full-time employee, Taylor Energy Company exists for only one reason: to fight an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that has gone largely unnoticed, despite creating miles-long slicks for more than a decade.

The New Orleans-based company has downplayed the leak’s environmental impact, likening it to scores of minor spills and natural seeps that the Gulf routinely absorbs.

But an Associated Press investigation has revealed evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor — or the government — has publicly reported. Presented with AP’s findings, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company.

Outside experts say the spill could be even worse — possibly one of the largest ever in the Gulf, albeit still  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
75 Comments

Thursday, April 16, 2015

44
votes
Get Ready for Bonus Points Weekend

GasBuddy Blog -- Image From ..It’s no coincidence that today, the day after the deadline to file our taxes, is National Stress Awareness Day. Going through and itemizing a years worth of receipts is pretty darn stressful.
We want to provide you with some post-Tax Day relief by making this weekend Bonus Points Weekend! From April 17 - 19 you will get double the points when you report a gas price. Instead of the usual 200 points, it will be worth 400 each (up to five per day). This applies to both mobile and web. With the extra points, you will double your chances in winning a $100 gas card during the daily GasBuddy drawing. For our Canadian friends, Tax Day might not be for another two weeks but Bonus Points Weekend applies just the same for you. Consider this a little pre-Tax Day and Stress Day gift.
...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2015 By:
1904 Comments

42
votes
2015 Ford F-150 gets crucial 5-star crash test rating

Detroit Free Press -- Ford will announce today that the all-new 2015 F-150 pickup has received its first crash-test safety rating, and it's five stars, the highest possible score — an important achievement for an automaker that gambled so heavily in switching to aluminum for its profit-driving full-size truck.

In fact, the aluminum version received a higher safety rating from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration than Ford's outgoing traditional model made of steel, which achieved a four-star overall rating.

A bad rating for the new model would have been horrendous for Ford, which invested millions of dollars to retool two plants to make the truck with an aluminum body. And it would have given ammunition to the skeptics who still aren't convinced aluminum can perform as well as steel.

 (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2015 By:
1238 Comments

39
votes
Many states implementing fuel tax increases

GasBuddy Blog -- ITEPLow gasoline prices have been great for motorists, but as fuel prices remain low, states are increasingly eager to raise fuel taxes or shift to new taxation policy that will bring in more revenue.

The current pump climate has led politicians on both sides of the aisle to raise fuel taxes- with several states raising them just since the start of 2015. Twenty nine of the fifty states have either recently (since 2014) raised gasoline taxes or changed policy. Of those 29 states, some are talking about changes upcoming.

Here's a list of states looking at increasing fuel tax:...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2015 By:
1500 Comments

38
votes
Oil Rally Seen Reversing Amid Biggest U.S. Glut Since 1930s

Bloomberg -- Oil’s surge to the highest level of the year may be short-lived as the biggest U.S. stockpiles in 85 years cushions against a drop in production.West Texas Intermediate crude jumped 9 percent this week after the Energy Information Administration predicted that the shale boom that’s swelled U.S. output to a record is ending. The nation’s inventories increased for a 14th week to the highest level since 1930, EIA data showed on Wednesday.
Prices rebounded 18 percent this month as a record decline in rigs seeking oil boosted speculation that production will soon slow and as refineries used more crude after seasonal maintenance. OPEC increased output by the most in four years even as U.S. shale output is poised to fall. These mixed signs are likely to whipsaw prices amid increased volatility, a  (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2015 By:
863 Comments

38
votes
BP oil spill anniversary-oil lingers along 90 ft "tar mat"

FOX 28 -- It's been 5 years since the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

In April of 2010, more than 200 million gallons of crude started spewing out of the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion on the deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Some clues about the impact of the toxic disaster made themselves known immediately: oiled brown pelicans, dead baby dolphins, tar balls on beaches.

As the clean up continues, the big picture hasn't come into focus yet.
 (read more)

Submitted Apr 16, 2015 By:
1467 Comments

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

72
votes
Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables

Bloomberg -- The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there's no going back.

The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels, according to an analysis presented Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York. The shift will continue to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added.

"The electricity system is shifting to clean,'' Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF, said in his keynote address. "Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2015 By:
1838 Comments

53
votes
Upstart Siluria Technologies Turns Shale Gas Into Plastics And Gasoline

Forbes -- San Francisco-based startup Siluria Technologies has attracted $120 million in venture capital from the likes of Saudi Aramco and Paul Allen on the promise that it has discovered a Holy Grail of the petrochemicals industry.

Last month Siluria unveiled its new plant tucked in among dozens of giant petrochemical complexes on the Houston Ship Channel. Situated within a larger polypropylene site operated by Brazilian chemicals giant Braskem , the Siluria plant is a 4-story tall maze of pipes and valves and pressure vessels. It takes in purified methane, mixes it with oxygen in the presence of a revolutionary catalyst and creates ethylene.

The single most commonly produced petrochemcial, ethylene is the basis for myriad plastics like polyester, beverage bottles and PVC. It’s vital for the pro  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2015 By:
1602 Comments

50
votes
FCA Chair Elkann predicts more auto industry mergers

Detroit Free Press -- John Elkann, chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Monday he is convinced that the automotive industry needs to go through additional consolidation because of the rising cost of developing new cars for global markets.

Elkann, who also is the chairman and CEO of Exor made the comments in a letter to Exor shareholders. Exor is an investment firm that owns 29.2% of FCA.

His comments come amid rising speculation that Elkann and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne are aggressively looking to complete an additional merger acquisition or partnership with another automaker in the near future. The automaker also is preparing for its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday in the Netherlands.

In his letter, Elkann noted that it took about $1 billion for the automaker to develop the new Jeep Renegade...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2015 By:
420 Comments

47
votes
Hillary Clinton has a Keystone XL problem

CS Monitor -- Hillary Clinton announced Sunday that she will run for president in 2016, and environmental groups are welcoming her to the race with the first of what could be many Keystone XL protests.

The controversial pipeline has become a litmus test for environmentalists concerned that Ms. Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, won’t take a bold enough stance to fight climate change. As Secretary of State, Clinton said she was “inclined” to sign-off on the pipeline, which would carry emissions-heavy oil sands from Alberta to US Gulf Coast refineries. Since then, Clinton has remained silent on Keystone XL, while the Obama administration has spent six years deciding whether to approve or reject it. A final decision, which could come in weeks or months, would take some of the heat off Clinton.

But for  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2015 By:
1425 Comments

44
votes
Musk’s Cousins Battle Utilities to Make Solar Rooftops Cheap

Bloomberg -- In September 2013, Hawaiian Electric Co. told thousands of customers they couldn’t connect their new solar panels to its distribution grid. In some neighborhoods, HECO said, its system couldn’t absorb any more unused energy from home solar arrays. The moratorium, which lasted 13 months, made Hawaii a central battleground in the effort by utilities to control the rapid growth of independent solar companies across the U.S. And it was a big deal to people such as Robert Gould, a retired Northwest Airlines pilot living near Honolulu. He’d just paid $53,000 to have solar panels installed.

Gould and other customers protested loudly to state officials. They finally got help from Lyndon Rive, the CEO of SolarCity. The San Mateo, California, company is the biggest installer of rooftop solar panels  (read more)

Submitted Apr 15, 2015 By:
47 Comments

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

54
votes
Tesla will pay $25 an hour at Nevada battery factory

Detroit Free Press -- Tesla Motors plans to pay an average hourly wage of $25 at its huge battery factory under construction near Reno, Nev., the head of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada said.

That is higher than nearly all automakers in the U.S. are paying new hires and nearly double what most parts suppliers pay. It's also above the $17 starting hourly wage of Tesla workers who assemble its Model S sedan in Fremont, Calif., near San Jose.

Tesla is building a massive battery plant called the Gigafactory in the desert east of Reno, and is planning to hire 6,500 workers over the next eight years.

In the Sunday edition of the Reno Gazette-Journal, Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, said Tesla's pay scale is driving up what existing and new...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2015 By:
1772 Comments

49
votes
Tesla cofounder electrified about garbage trucks

Detroit Free Press -- Ian Wright and a few tech-minded buddies got together about a decade ago bent on creating a fast and cool electric car. They called the company Tesla Motors.

Wright left soon after Elon Musk took Tesla's financial steering wheel in 2004, but now he's back and determined to electrify a slow and ungainly automotive beast: the commercial truck.

While the idea might sound crazy, Wright's logic and math are intriguingly simple.

"Besides the fact that modern cars are already very clean, your average Toyota Camry driver only uses about 600 gallons a year, while a garbage truck will use 14,000," says Wright, a soft-spoken New Zealander with a passion for sports cars.  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2015 By:
1415 Comments

45
votes
GasBuddy Releases New Way to Save More at the Pump; Introducing Coupons

GasBuddy Blog -- Introducing GasBuddy Coupons, a new feature that gives you the opportunity to save even more money while at the pump. 
Everyday GasBuddy helps millions of drivers find cheapest gas station to fuel up. Now you can receive additional discounts beyond gas. GasBuddy Coupons will provide you discounts on items such as beverages, snacks and other essentials and can be redeemed at participating gas stations’ convenience stores.Currently there are nine retailers accepting GasBuddy Coupons, including, BellStores, Common Cents, CornerStore, Fast Stop Market, Mach1, Nice N Easy, On The Run, PS Food Mart and Rutter’s Farm Stores. Participating brands include those from Quaker Oats, Prestige Brands, ConAgra Foods and Twang Partners.If coupons are available in your area, the "Coupons" icon will automatically appear  on the home screen of your GasBuddy app. New coupons will be available regularly  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2015 By:
2640 Comments

43
votes
Refiners, retailers drop prices, chase US drivers' demand

CNBC -- The average national price of a regular gallon of gasoline continues to drop.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the price of a regular gallon of gas dropped 5 cents in the past three weeks to $2.45 a gallon.

Lundberg says the drop came despite a rise in crude oil prices. She says retailers and refiners dropped prices to chase demand from U.S. drivers.
The San Francisco Bay Area had the most expensive gas at $3.13 a gallon among cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states. Charleston, South Carolina, had the cheapest at $2.10.

The average national price for midgrade gas was $2.66 and $2.83 for premium. Diesel dropped about 8 cents to $2.90.

The average price for a regular gallon of gas is down $1.16 from last  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2015 By:
563 Comments

40
votes
MnDOT to test radar system for monitoring traffic on I-94

GasBuddy Blog -- The FCC has given approval to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to trial the use of a radar system to monitor and study traffic flow on Interstate 94.

The idea to use radar for traffic monitoring was originally submitted to the agency under its Innovative Idea Program last June. Currently, the proposal is to deploy a traffic detection system that can monitor six lanes of traffic and two overhead bridges from one location.

The objective is to gather accurate traffic and congestion information from the trial, with the collected information to be provided to necessary staff for emergency situations. The information is also to be stored to provide congestion and incident metrics. As a side benefit, the proposed system can also detect lane changes and maneuvers, helping identify driver behavior. ...  (read more)

Submitted Apr 14, 2015 By:
1922 Comments