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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Can Letting Trucks Drive Faster Make Roads Safer?

Wired -- When it comes to reducing traffic deaths, one common-sense move is reducing the speed limit. There’s clear evidence that an increase in speed leads to an increase in crashes, and the likelihood of surviving a crash drops as speed goes up. Cutting the speed limit has the extra upsides of reducing emissions and encouraging people to get out of their cars entirely and take mass transit. Yet Britain is raising the speed limit for trucks on some highways, and it expects to save lives.

It seems counterintuitive, but there’s solid reasoning behind the change. The country’s Department for Transport says allowing trucks to drive 50 mph on single carriageway roads (what we in the states call two-lane highways) will limit congestion and reduce overtaking.  (read more)

Submitted Today By:

Five Fatal Flaws of Solar Energy

American Thinker -- The sun is the most important energy source on Earth. Solar energy powers the growth of all trees, grasses, herbs, crops and algae; it creates the clouds and powers the storms; it is the source of all hydro, photo-voltaic (PV), solar-thermal, bio-mass, and wind energy. Over geological time, it also creates coal.

PV solar panels are useful in remote locations and for some portable applications. With enough panels and batteries, standalone solar can even power homes.

But solar energy has five fatal flaws for supplying 24/7 grid power.

Firstly, sunshine at any spot is always intermittent and often unreliable. Solar panels can deliver significant energy only from 9am to 3pm – a maximum of 25% of each day. Solar can often help supply the hot afternoon demand for air conditioning, but de  (read more)

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U.S. oil trades around $102 a barrel

AP -- Wholesale gasoline rose 2.9 cents to $2.87 a gallon.
The price of oil traded around $102 a barrel on Friday, nearly unchanged, as worries over supplies and geopolitical tensions eased.
Oil prices had slipped Thursday after spiking earlier in the week on lower U.S. inventories and tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery rose 2 cents to $102.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the Nymex contract had dropped $1.05 to close at $102.07.
Lower-than-expected U.S. crude inventories in a weekly Energy Department report had driven prices up on Wednesday, but expectations of stronger growth in demand were later countered as gasoline supplies were nearly three times larger than predicted.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international  (read more)

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Kurdish oil tanker near Texas signals US policy change

Anadolu Agency -- A tanker fueled with Kurdish oil is two days away from reaching a U.S. port, might signal a change in the U.S.' position towards Iraq, say experts.

A ship, the United Kalavrvt, loaded with oil from Iraqi Kurdistan which left the Turkish port of Ceyhan in June is just two days away from reaching Texas' Galveston port, despite U.S.' long standing position against Kurdish oil sales without Iraqi central government's consent.

Experts told Anadolu Agency this is a sign of a change in U.S.' position in favor of Iraqi Kurds.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and its allies have splintered the Iraqi government's control of the country when they seized Iraq's second-largest city Mosul and its surrounding area on June 10. As they seized the Baiji refinery - the largest oil refinery...  (read more)

Submitted 4 hours ago By:

Coal bankruptcy highlights pain from cheap gas, tight regulation

Sun Herald -- The coal business, after fueling the Industrial Revolution and powering U.S. growth for much of the past century, is now beset by a glut of cheap natural gas and tighter regulation.James River Coal Co. in many ways epitomizes these ills. After filing for bankruptcy almost four months ago with plans to sell its business, the Richmond, Va.-based company has delayed an auction twice without announcing a buyer.Lower prices, rising competition and oversupply have taken their toll on coal, cutting profits and pushing a number of companies to the brink of insolvency.

 (read more)

Submitted 5 hours ago By:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Man run over by own truck during road rage

AOL Inc. -- GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- A man in Florida apparently got a dose of road rage karma when police say he was run over by his own pickup truck after getting out to bang on another driver's window.

It happened Tuesday evening in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gainesville Sun reports 48-year-old Joseph Carl had been drinking and drove into a vehicle stopped at a red light. He got out of his truck without putting it in park and began banging on the window of a woman's car. When the frightened woman drove away, there was nothing holding his truck in place.

The truck rolled into Carl. A police report says he was taken to the hospital where he was treated for fractures in his hand and foot.

He's charged with DUI and DUI property damage. It isn't known whether he's obtained a lawyer.
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Oil falls on worries about U.S. gasoline demand

AP -- Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $2.84 a gallon.

The price of oil fell near $102 a barrel Thursday, erasing gains from the day before.
Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery dropped $1.05 to $102.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the Nymex contract gained 73 cents after the Energy Department reported a far larger drop in U.S. crude inventories than what analysts had expected.
Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, fell 96 cents to $107.07 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
The price of oil has stayed above $100 a barrel after a civilian jetliner was shot out of the sky last week over a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists and as Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip added to risks of instabili  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

If emissions regulations hurt Australia, why do Democrats want them for America?

Washington Examiner -- Australia and the United States: Two different countries, two different governing political ideologies, and two differing strategies when it comes to energy and the environment.

As President Obama was using colorful graphics to drum up support for his new carbon emission capping agenda, Conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was acting on his promise to repeal his nation's carbon tax.

Australia's tax on emissions was intended to create a disincentive to emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide, but Abbott asserted that the carbon tax was hurting the Australian economy. After successfully getting the regulations repealed, the carbon tax officially ended July 17, retroactive to July 1.

Australia's Department  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

How to power California with wind, water and sun

Science Daily -- New Stanford research outlines the path to a possible future for California in which renewable energy creates a healthier environment, generates jobs and stabilizes energy prices.
Imagine a smog-free Los Angeles, where electric cars ply silent freeways, solar panels blanket rooftops and power plants run on heat from beneath the Earth, from howling winds and from the blazing desert sun.
A new Stanford study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert California's all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by clean, renewable energy. Published in Energy, the plan shows the way to a sustainable, inexpensive and reliable energy supply in California that could create tens of thousands of jobs and save billions of dollars in pollution-related health costs.
"If impleme  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

Falling gasoline prices may stay lower through summer

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- A lack of severe weather and no unscheduled refinery shutdowns have combined to give Milwaukee drivers some good news: Gasoline prices are down about 30 cents from last month's average and 20 cents from last year's average, experts said Wednesday.

And more good news: Nationally, drivers could see these lower prices for the rest of the summer.

"I do believe we have seen our peak price for this year, and prices may hold at the mid-$3 gallon range in Milwaukee for the next month or two," said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. "Theoretically, if refinery infrastructure and production of oil is stable, in October or November we could see prices around $3.20 to $3.40 (per gallon)."

The average national price for regular unleaded gasoline has steadily declined after peaki  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:

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)

Submitted Jul 24, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Jul 24, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Jul 24, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Jul 24, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Jul 24, 2014 By:

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 Jul 23, 2014 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 Jul 23, 2014 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 Jul 23, 2014 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)

Submitted Jul 23, 2014 By:

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)

Submitted Jul 23, 2014 By:

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: