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Gasoline prices jump in California as refineries encounter trouble

LA Times -- Problems at some of the state's fuel refineries have sent gasoline prices soaring in California just in time for the kickoff of the busy driving season.

A gallon of regular gasoline hit a statewide average of $4.196 on Thursday, up about 13 cents in a week, according to AAA. That's the highest price since March 2013.

But problems at a few refineries in the Golden State undergoing routine spring maintenance have squeezed inventory and boosted prices, analysts said. And only a handful of refineries outside the state are capable of making the ultra-clean type of gasoline mandated in California.

However, the refinery snags have been extensive enough to temporarily reduce gas inventories in the state 17% compared with this time last year.

Aside from production issues, bad weather has also p  (go to article)

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Auto airbag maker Continental named in GM recall suit

Reuters -- (Reuters) - Plaintiffs' lawyers are seeking to draw Continental Automotive Systems U.S., the maker of airbag systems in recalled General Motors Co vehicles, into litigation over an ignition-switch defect that has been linked to 13 deaths  (go to article)

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Illinois eyeing gas tax increase

GasBuddy Blog -- Motorists in Illinois should beware: a transportation advocacy group wants to raise your gasoline taxes, and if it happens, you can bet retailers would be forced to pass it on to you in the form of higher gasoline prices.

According to the Northwest Herald, the group wants to hike motor fuel taxes by 4 cents a gallon to fund a new road-building program that would replace a $31 billion, five year program that terminates this year.

Gas station and convenience store owners are expectedly livid. “This tax, as a retailer, would be pushed to the consumer. We as retailers live in penny profits and cannot afford to absorb this tax,” said Amy Chronister Ridley, vice president of Chronister Oil and Qik n EZ Convenience Stores, which...  (go to article)

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Texting Driver Who Slammed Cyclist: I, Like, 'Just Don't Care'

Huffington Post -- The 21-year-old Australian woman was livid when she slammed into a bicyclist while texting late last year, putting dents in her car. The victim suffered a spinal fracture and would spend the next three months in a hospital, but Davis wasn't having any of it, The Standard reports.

"I just don’t care because I’ve already been through a lot of bullshit and my car is, like, pretty expensive and now I have to fix it," she told a responding officer two days after the Sept. 20 collision. "I’m kind of pissed off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car. I don’t agree that people texting and driving could hit a cyclist. I wasn’t on my phone when I hit the cyclist."  (go to article)

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GM could benefit, too, from an ignition-switch victims fund

Reuters -- Reuters) - If General Motors Co creates a fund to compensate victims of its faulty ignition switches, an option that a top legal adviser suggested it is exploring, the company could give up strong defenses to a wave of lawsuits. But it could stand to gain even more.
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US exporting a ‘tidal wave’ of gasoline, other fuels

Fuel Fix -- U.S. refiners are sending a “tidal wave” of gasoline, diesel and other refined products onto the world market, taking advantage of the surge in domestic oil development that has helped drive Gulf Coast crude stockpiles to record levels, according to a new report.

The jump in domestic oil supplies means the U.S. is on track to become a net exporter of gasoline — producing more than it needs — next year, said Wakefield, Mass.-based ESAI Energy in an analysis released Thursday.

The supplies keep prices low enough that refiners can benefit from “healthy margins” between their raw materials costs and the prices they get for final products, ESAI said.Ultimately, ESAI predicts the average U.S. output of nearly 8.9 million barrels per day of gasoline in 2015 will be more than enough to supply U  (go to article)

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GM's recalled Cobalt was a failure from the start

CNN Money -- The Chevrolet Cobalt, the car at the center of the General Motors recall crisis, was a losing bet from the start.

The automaker never really wanted to build the compact sedan, and it showed. Critics and car buyers alike reacted with little enthusiasm for the vehicle.

"They couldn't stop making them," said Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer, "but they stopped caring about doing a good job on them."

GM now admits it should have fixed a faulty ignition switch in the Cobalt and similar models a decade ago when it was first discovered. At least 13 deaths have been tied to the problem, which can shut off the cars when they're on the road.  (go to article)

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Who Needs Keys? This Siri Hack can Unlock Your Car

NBC News -- Apple’s Siri is handy for checking weather and making appointments with voice commands, but what if she were smart enough to turn the lights on or unlock your car? That’s what the folks behind GoogolPlex had in mind, as they’ve developed a unique Siri hack that makes the voice assistant compatible with third-party apps and connected home devices.

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W. Pa. gas prices inch higher

The Courier Express --

Western Pennsylvania gas prices rose 1 cent, to $3.66 a gallon, this week, according to AAA East Central. The average price a year ago was $3.636 per gallon.

Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.64 per gallon. That is 6 cents more than one week ago, 13 cents more than one month ago and 12 cents more per gallon than the same date last year.
 (go to article)

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New GM's talk is getting old

DETROIT NEWS -- General Motors Co.’s campaign to prove it’s new is making it look pretty old — and using the world’s largest media market to do it.

Behind the glitz of new metal at this week’s New York Auto Show, or the improving results in that automotive black hole also known as European operations, or the evanescent novelty of being led by the first woman to head a global automaker, is a GM struggling to match what it’s doing with what it’s saying.

The largest automaker’s chance to show it “gets it” by doing the right thing and honoring claims for Cobalt accidents that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy is falling short. It knew of the problems, tied to 13 deaths, as far back as 2001; it replaced the faulty ignition switch in its parts bin, but declined to issue a recall.
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Internal Combustion Microengine Has a Twist

Design News -- As devices become smaller in size, so too must their power sources.

In today’s world, we now have engines about the size of a softball that power some of the military’s drones. Model helicopters, airplanes, and remote-controlled vehicles feature incredibly powerful combustion engines to propel them in the air and on the ground. However, could they be made smaller to power devices on a micro-scale?

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The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy

The Week -- In a setback for the renewable energy movement, the state House in Oklahoma this week passed a bill that would levy a new fee on those who generate their own energy through solar equipment or wind turbines on their property. The measure, which sailed to passage on a near unanimous vote after no debate, is likely to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

The bill, known as S.B. 1456, will specifically target those who install power generation systems on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. However, those who already have such renewable systems installed will not be affected.

Still, it’s the new customers who will rapidly make up the majority, even in a traditional oil-and-gas powerhouse like Oklahoma. That’s because the cost of solar power systems has be  (go to article)

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Compensation battle rages four years after BP's U.S. oil spill

Reuters -- Four years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil is still washing up on the long sandy beaches of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and some islanders are fed up with hearing from BP that the crisis is over.

Jules Melancon, the last remaining oyster fisherman on an island dotted with colorful houses on stilts, says he has not found a single oyster alive in his leases in the area since the leak and relies on an onshore oyster nursery to make a living.

He and others in the southern U.S. state say compensation has been paid unevenly and lawyers have taken big cuts.

The British oil major has paid out billions of dollars in compensation under a settlement experts say is unprecedented in its breadth.

Some claimants are satisfied, but others are irate that BP is now challenging aspects of the settlemen  (go to article)

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T. Boone Pickens teams up with Wyoming firm to make, promote natural gas engines

The Dallas Morning News -- CASPER, Wyo. — T. Boone Pickens is teaming up with a family-run Wyoming business hoping to become the largest maker of natural gas engines for drilling rigs.

The Texas oil tycoon’s energy hedge fund, BP Capital, is partnering with Casper-based Moser Energy Systems to create a new company — Mesa Natural Gas Solutions. Moser will continue making the engines and Pickens’ fund will promote them. Pickens joined Moser executives in announcing the joint venture Wednesday at its new building in Evansville, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Moser’s engines convert raw natural gas from oil drilling sites into fuel for the engines, eliminating the need to haul diesel to remote sites that don’t have electricity.
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Ohio DOT begins 936 road projects across the state

GasBuddy Blog -- April is the official kickoff of the highway construction season, and in Ohio that means 936 separate projects begin across the state, costing a combined $2.5 billion.

Cuyahoga County has the lion's share of investment in ODOT's three-county District 12, with $690 million in construction, a number that includes both new Inner Belt bridges.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, some $65 million in Lake County construction includes a major repaving project on Interstate 90. In Geauga County, ODOT is spending $29 million on four road resurfacing jobs, one minor road rehabilitation and one culvert project.

Locally, motorists will see work begin or resume on:

-- A $6.7 million resurfacing of Triskett...  (go to article)

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America's tire mountains: 90 percent are gone, thanks to recycling programs

mnn.com -- Once we had 2 billion tires scattered around the U.S. landscape, but now 90 percent of the piles are gone. Ground rubber from tires is becoming roadways, playground equipment and auto floor mats.

Tires. We don’t think about them all that much unless a) we have a flat; b) we have to buy new ones; or c) the summer tires just aren’t cutting it in the winter, or vice versa. But tires are a big deal in the environment, because we produce — and discard — so many of them. In 2009, the most recent year available, we generated 296 million scrap tires, with passenger cars accounting for 189 million of them.

The good news is that we’re “repurposing” 80 percent of our scrap tires today. Remember the famous tire mountains? Well, they’re mostly gone now. According to Michael Blumenthal, vice presiden
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Study Chides U.S. Over Loan Default by Solar Business

N.Y. Times -- Long before the Energy Department lost $68 million on Abound Solar, a manufacturer that went bankrupt two years ago, it should have known that the company’s chance of repaying the loan it had guaranteed was deteriorating, according to a report by the department’s inspector general.

The damning report was issued as the Obama administration prepared to offer as much as $8 billion in additional loan guarantees.

The loan guarantee program has been a magnet for criticism since the failure of Solyndra in 2011; that company took $528 million in loans guaranteed by the Energy Department.

The new report, released on Thursday, focused on loan guarantees extended to Abound Solar, which was initially offered $400 million. When the company missed several production milestones, the department cut off  (go to article)

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Fermi 2 goes offline indefinitely

Energy Central -- DTE Energy took its Fermi 2 nuclear plant in northern Monroe County offline today for an indefinite amount of time.

The utility said it needs to replace one of the plant's two main transformers.

Guy Cerullo, DTE spokesman, said the faulty transformer "was not working correctly after restart following the recent refueling outage."

The plant's reactor was shut down in February for normal refueling, a process that happens at nuclear plants once every 18 to 24 months.

The frequency depends on the uranium in each plant's reactor fuel.

Problems kept operators from bringing Fermi 2 back to full power after restart.

So DTE officials chose to shut down the plant and replace the malfunctioning transformer.

Transformers are in a nonnuclear part of the plant, separate from the...  (go to article)

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Historic irony? Iran to splash $20 billion on joint oil fields with Iraq

Al Bawaba -- Iran will invest over $20 billion in development of the oil fields it shares with Iraq, IRNA reported on Wednesday.

Iran’s Oil Ministry is planning to increase oil extraction from joint oilfields with Iraq by one million barrels per day (bpd) in the current Iranian calendar year, which started on March 21, 2014.

Iran shares oil and gas fields with most of its neighbors, including Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, as well as Oman and Turkmenistan.

Iran shares Yadavaran, Azadegan, and Azar oilfields with Iraq.

Based on studies, there are 23 joint hydrocarbon fields between Iran and Iraq which are divided into exploration, development and production categories.

On April 6, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Iran’s crude oil output is forecast to increase by about...
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VW recalls 26,000 '14 cars for fire risks

The Detroit News -- Volkswagen AG said it will recall 26,452 2014 Jetta, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, and Passat cars with a 1.8T engine and torque converter automatic transmission. VW told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the O-ring seals between the oil cooler and the transmission may leak fluid, which could come in contact with a hot surface and result in a vehicle fire.

The automaker said it first had a report of leaking fluid in a car that arrived at a port on March 14. VW said it is unaware of any crashes or fires related to the issue.

VW dealers stopped sales on April 8 as the company investigated the issue.  (go to article)

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How A Drop of Seawater on Graphene Generates Electricity

IFLS Newsletter -- Researchers in China have created electricity by dragging a drop of seawater across a strip of graphene -- the insanely conductive, super thin, wonder material.



Ever since the early 19th century, scientists have known that an electric potential can be generated by simply driving an ionic liquid -- fluids with charged ions in it, like water or sodium chloride solution -- through channels or holes under a pressure gradient. The latest in hydroelectric power involves generating voltage by immersing carbon nanotubes in flowing liquids. But scientists have never quite figured out exactly how this happens -- and generating electricity without a pressure gradient remains a challenge.



Now, Wanlin Guo and colleagues from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics produced a few mi  (go to article)

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Here’s How Toyota Made Its Engines More Efficient [Video]

AutoEvolution -- As you may have heard, Toyota just revealed two new thermal efficient gasoline engines. They don’t exceed a capacity bigger than 1.3-liters but the automaker said they are 10 percent more fuel efficient and almost as fuel efficient as hybrid powertrains. But how did the engineers made this possible?

First of all, Toyota wanted its engineers to work and communicate in harmony, so the company raised a whole new building called The Unit Center. Here, engineers were assigned with one single task - improve their engines’ thermal efficiency.

If you’re new to mechanics, thermal efficiency means how efficient an engine can use the gasoline its being fed with to power the car. Each drop of gasoline has contains a certain amount of energy it can set free by burning in an engine cylinder.

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Updated Looks, Updated Tech From Chevy and Ford

Reviewed.com -- Both Chevrolet and Ford debuted new looks for their compact sedans at the New York International Auto Show. While the cosmetic changes aren't radical, some new in-car technology is worth a look.  (go to article)

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BP, the petroleum giant, has more than doubled its estimate of how much crude oil it spilled this we

http://www.latimes.com/ -- BP, the petroleum giant, has more than doubled its estimate of how much crude oil it spilled this week into Lake Michigan, a source of drinking water for some 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs.
On Monday, BP reported the spill into the lake from its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. The U.S. Coast Guard and the federal Environmental Protection Agency have been at the site and have been involved in the cleanup.
“Any time you get any type of chemical in land or water, no one wants to see it,” Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf, a spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times. “We can’t say for certain, but the danger seems pretty low.”
Also
BP Whiting oil spill
Photo: BP Whiting oil spill
Environmentalists wary about harm to birds from Texas oil spill
Environmentalists wary ab  (go to article)

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Exclusive: GM says recalled cars safe, but has not tested for knee-bump danger

Yahoo News - Reuters -- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors says that cars being recalled because of faulty ignition switches can be driven safely before repairs, based on more than 80 tests, but the automaker has not addressed a problem long known to potentially shut off the engine: a simple bump from a driver's knee.

Safety advocates and engineers say the lack of testing for this factor undermines GM's claims that the cars are safe. As early as 2004, GM engineers complained that the ignition switch could be turned off if the key was bumped by a knee.

A Texas judge on Thursday allowed the unrepaired cars to stay on the road, over the objection of safety advocates and plaintiffs lawyers who said there is no way, short of repairs, to ensure the ignition switch would not slip out of the run position, turning of  (go to article)

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GM sticking to marketing game plan despite recall crisis

FREEP -- General Motors, under siege for the recall of 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switches, will not change the strategy for selling its current lineup of new cars and trucks.

The recall, which began in February and was expanded last month, is the company’s largest crisis since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

While GM’s U.S. market share has declined 2.3% for the first three months of this year, it’s too early to say that the recall is hurting sales of its newest models. GM’s sales rose 4% in March from a year earlier, well above analysts’ expectations and better than Ford’s 3.3% increase.

Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating how early GM learned of the flawed ignition switches and why there was....  (go to article)

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Will Texas Ship Crude to California?

Rigzone -- In September 2013, Texas produced its highest monthly rate of natural resources on record – pumping 2.7 million barrels of crude per day, the highest average of oil output in over 32 years, according to data from the EIA. With this excess crude, Texas might become a supplier of oil to California if the trade is profitable.

Once an oil exporter, the Golden State now depends on imports for more than 60 percent of its oil supply. About a quarter of California’s imports are from Alaska, with the rest coming from the Middle East and Ecuador.

However, because of California’s history as an oil producing and exporting province, its refining industry was originally built to process local crudes. The state’s refineries have evolved from processing California oil to processing a mix of California  (go to article)

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An 'artifact from the past,' fuel oil has fallen out of favor in the US

Platts -- The record-low US residual fuel oil demand reached last week was a result decades in the making and perhaps illustrative of more to come as pressure continues to build from increased attention on the environment.

"This is simply a shift in power plants during this 30-year period [since the 1979 US energy crisis] away from heavy [residual fuel oil] toward natural gas and other products and also a shift by refineries to upgrade and maximize high-value products and minimize low-value products," Jim Corbett, a professor at the University of Delaware, said Thursday.

Indeed, electric generation accounted for less than 10% of residual fuel oil demand in 2012. Less than a decade earlier, it was closer to 50%, the latest EIA figures show.

Furthermore, US refiners are pumping out less fuel oil --  (go to article)

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10 card that define the '90's

Yahoo! Autos -- The 1990's were a decade of growth, new technology, yet tragically some very forgettable cars. You probably haven't thought of a Plymouth Acclaim since 1993. But despite some rubbish and drudgery, the 1990's left us with a few truly iconic drives, and we'd like to share them with you. Take a look at the 10 cars that defined the 1990's.
(slideshow)  (go to article)

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U.S. judge declines to order 'park it now' notices for GM cars

Reuters -- A federal judge on Thursday rejected a bid to compel General Motors Co to tell customers to stop driving millions of cars that have been recalled for defective ignition switches.

Attorneys representing Charles and Grace Silvas, the owners of a recalled 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, had sought an emergency order directing GM to issue "park it now" notices for the 2.6 million vehicles that have been recalled since February over the switches. The notices would have told owners that the cars were too dangerous to remain on the road.

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What Are The Chances That Climate Change Is "Natural"?

IFL Science -- A new study which statistically analyzed temperature data over the pre-industrial period and the industrial period has rejected the hypothesis that global warming is due to natural variability at confidence levels greater than 99%. The results have been published in the journal Climate Dynamics.

Although there is a large body of evidence to suggest that current global warming is largely due to human activities, much of this has relied on models called general circulation models (GCMs). GCMs are computer-driven models that are key components of global climate models, which as the name suggests are used for modeling climate. Although they are useful tools, some are skeptical as to whether they can really infer connections between anthropogenic factors and global warming. This, coupled with  (go to article)

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Survey finds 97% of climate science papers agree warming is man-made

The Guardian -- In 2004, Oreskes performed a survey of 928 peer-reviewed climate papers published between 1993 and 2003, finding none that rejected the human cause of global warming.

However, vested interests have long realized this and engaged in a campaign to misinform the public about the scientific consensus. For example, a memo from communications strategist Frank Luntz leaked in 2002 advised Republicans,

"Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate"  (go to article)

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CFDC calls for ethanol to stand up as alternative fuel

GasBuddy Blog -- In a presentation at the annual Emerging Issues Forum, Clean Fuels Development Coalition Executive Director Douglas Durante called on ethanol supporters to not only defend the federal Renewable Fuel Standard but to move beyond it by capitalizing on the economic, energy supply, environmental and health benefits of ethanol in mid- and high-level blends including E85.

Durante told attendees at the 9th Annual Ethanol Forum that the obsession with RFS volumes has distracted the industry from pursuing other, often higher values that are not bound by the RFS. The key to capturing that value he said is using ethanol in flex fuel vehicles.

"Ethanol is treated like a second class citizen in the alternative fuels community, and we...  (go to article)

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Police Investigate Two Related Multi-Car Accidents

newsplex.com -- Two accidents involving multiple vehicles closed down a busy Albemarle County road Thursday morning, and police believe the accidents are connected  (go to article)

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Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Woo Buyers with Free Energy

Mansfield Oil Company -- Yesterday, news agencies were greeted by auto manufacturers at the New York International Auto Show before it opens to the public tomorrow. This year, manufacturers will showcase several vehicles sporting alternative fuels. With traditional petroleum-based fuel costs exceeding most alternative sources, the industry has been quick to capitalize on demand for “green” vehicles.
As an added bonus, Nissan announced it would offer customers two years of free recharging with the purchase or lease of vehicles from their Leaf line. While only available in 10 markets — most of which are located along the West Coast and South West — Nissan promised another 15 would be added to the program for their 2015 models. Tesla Motors piloted a similar program for their luxury S-series sedan, promising lifetim  (go to article)

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DOE projects diesel prices to drop more than a dime this summer

Overdrive -- The average price of diesel should fall more than dime over the course of the summer, according to projections released this week by the Department of Energy, who expects diesel to average $3.87 a gallon this summer.

The forecast was made in the DOE’s Energy Information Administration’s monthly Short Term Energy Outlook.

The EIA pegged the national average price of diesel in the most recent week at $3.959, so a $3.87 average would likely mean a steadily decline during the next six months.

 (go to article)

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GM faced a Cadillac ignition switch issue in 2006

Reuters -- DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors engineers reported accidentally turning off ignition switches in a Cadillac SRX with their knees more than eight years ago, and they ordered a similar fix to a similar problem in smaller, cheaper cars linked to 13 deaths, according to documents from parts maker Delphi Automotive.

 (go to article)

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Obama Stymies Oil and Natural Gas Production on Federal Lands

Forbes -- A new nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) report quantifies the Obama administration’s hostility towards America’s oil and natural gas industry. While oil and natural gas production has surged on non-federal lands, President Obama has overseen a decline in production on federal lands.

There are four entities that own land in the United States: the federal government, states, private landowners, and Native Americans. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Department of the Interior is charged with leasing, selling, and generally managing oil and natural gas reserves on federal land.

Although the federal government heavily regulates the exploration and production process through laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, etc, the federal governm  (go to article)

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"Holy Grail" of muscle cars found in old barn

New York post -- Why did have to be G.M.  (go to article)

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Gasoline Heads for Weekly Gain on Supply Drop, Higher Use

Bloomberg -- Gasoline rose, headed for a second straight weekly gain, on lower supplies and higher demand.

Futures advanced after the Energy Information Administration reported yesterday that gasoline stockpiles contracted 154,000 barrels to 210.3 million last week, the lowest since Nov. 15. Demand over the past four weeks was 4.6 percent higher than a year earlier, up from 4.4 percent in the prior four weeks.

“You are expecting a seasonal pickup in demand and gasoline supplies are very low,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil market strategist at Energy Aspects Ltd., a research company in London.  (go to article)

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U-M is turning Ann Arbor into the world's largest lab for wireless vehicle communication

MLive.com -- The University of Michigan is aiming to turn the entirety of Ann Arbor into a laboratory.

The city's drivers will become lab rats, and each errand or trip to work will become part of a very large experiment.

U-M's Transportation Research Institute and the federal and state transportation departments have plans to equip 9,000 cars with wireless communication technology.

That's an estimated 10 percent of the city's driving population.

The cars will send and receive wireless communications with each other and much of the city's infrastructure, including equipped traffic lights and intersections, as Ann Arborites go through the motions of their daily routine.

A modest percentage of the vehicles will be outfitted with not only the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I  (go to article)

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U.S. Crude Oil Supplies Rise More Than Expected

Dow Jones Business News -- -U.S. crude inventories rose by more than expected in the week ended April 11, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Crude oil stockpiles increased by 10 million barrels to 394.1 million barrels, compared with an average survey estimate for stocks to rise by 1.5 million barrels on the week.

The increase was the biggest gain in crude stocks since March 2001.

Gasoline stockpiles fell by 200,000 barrels to 210.3 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 1.4 million-barrel drop.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, fell by 1.3 million barrels to 111.9 million barrels, compared with analysts' forecast of a dip of 100,000 barrels.
 (go to article)

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Food and Gasoline Prices Jump

American Institute for Economic Research -- Food and energy prices are volatile. Although the Motor Fuel index jumped significantly in March, year-over-year the index has declined 8.9 percent. Utility bills, on the other hand, were higher in March (+1.3 percent) and year-over-year (+6.7 percent). Even though trips to the grocery store hurt consumer wallets in March, year-over-year grocery bills declined 0.7 percent. Unfortunately, a 5.0 percent year-over-year increase in restaurant checks offset cheaper meals at home.

The EPI measures the prices of goods and services purchased on an everyday basis. It is designed to reflect an average household’s day-to-day inflation by tracking the prices most relevant to frequent purchases. For example, consumers paid more to keep in touch with family and friends in March. Internet Services inc  (go to article)

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Scientists capture ultrafast snapshots of light-driven superconductivity

phys.org -- Scientists used carefully timed pairs of laser pulses at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) to trigger superconductivity in the material and immediately take x-ray snapshots of its atomic and electronic structure as superconductivity emerged.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-04-scientists-capture-ultrafast-snapshots-light-driven.html#jCp

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-04-scientists-capture-ultrafast-snapshots-light-driven.html#jCp  (go to article)

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Insight: In green car race, Toyota adds muscle with fuel-cell launch

Reuters -- In 1997, Toyota caught its competitors by surprise with the revolutionary Prius, the first commercially successful gasoline-electric hybrid car. Now, the Japanese firm is trying to do the same with a technology that seems straight out of science fiction.

Toyota Motor Corp will next year launch a hydrogen-powered car in the United States, Japan and Europe. For now, people at Toyota are calling it the 2015 FC car, for fuel-cell.

Fuel-cell cars use a "stack" of cells that electro-chemically combine hydrogen with oxygen to generate electricity that helps propel the car. Their only emission, bar heat, is water vapor, they can run five times longer than battery electric cars, and it takes just minutes to fill the tank with hydrogen - far quicker than even the most rapid charger can recharge a  (go to article)

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The Navy's Seawater-To-Fuel System: Can I Use It In My Car?

Jalopnik -- Last week, the US Navy flew a model airplane with a small 2-stroke engine. That's not normally news, except for one big detail: the fuel the plane burned was made from seawater via a process the Navy has been working on for years. Let's look a little into what this sorcery is, and if it'll ever power our cars.

Essentially, on a very basic level, what the Navy is doing is extracting CO2 and Hydrogen from the seawater, and then recombining it into hydrocarbon chains, and then liquefying that (via a metal catalyst) into synthetic fuel. The type of synthetic fuel that can be made can vary, but jet fuel (similar to diesel) and petroleum-type fuels, like what was run in that little model plane, and, yes, that same sort of fuel could potentially be run in your normal old gasoline car ...  (go to article)

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Parnell administration wants to bail out ailing refineries with tax breaks

Anchorage Daily News -- A fast-track Parnell administration proposal to give tax breaks to Alaska oil refineries is moving through the state Legislature despite concerns about an estimated cost of $150 million or more over five years and questions about the effectiveness of the strategy.

The proposal would offer a tax credit -- essentially a subsidy -- amounting to $10 million a year to a refinery that invests at least $25 million in its plant. The credits would be offered for five years.

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How the most fuel-efficient vehicle in America is a Mercedes luxury sedan

Road & Track -- The new Mercedes-Benz E250 Bluetec is a proper mid-size luxury sedan. It makes no sacrifice to fuel economy, really, but it gets an EPA-rated 45 mpg on the highway. That's spitting distance from the best-performer Prius's 48—and in our experience, diesels usually outperform their EPA numbers, while hybrids underperform in the real world. So my hypothesis was that the Mercedes had a good chance of beating the Prius.

To test the theory, I got a rear-wheel-drive Mercedes E250 Bluetec and a loaded Prius.

I planned out a 430-mile route that both cars should be able to make without refueling, and chose a mix of Interstate and rural back roads that passed through small towns. To minimize the effects of the constant westerly wind we have on the West Coast, I chose a route that's as close to a c  (go to article)

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GM sets up new parts-ordering system for recall repairs

AUTO NEWS -- DETROIT -- General Motors today gave its dealers a revised ordering process that the retailers said should speed the shipment of parts, ease repairs and ensure the job gets done right...................
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Biofuels' future threatened by political uncertainty

The Institution of Engineering and Technology. --

Recent scientific breakthroughs can deliver the next generation of biofuels, but will political uncertainty hold up industry's most promising projects?

Early this year, US researchers unveiled a very simple chemical treatment that could release – literally – a vast resource of renewable energy.

By adding a little sulphuric acid to a plant-derived, innocuous liquid called gamma-Valerolactone, young chemist Dr Jeremy Luterbacher, Professor James Dumesic and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madsion, created a solvent that dissolves the tough waste plant matter that feeds advanced biofuel production.

For decades, researchers have tried to devise methods to extract the difficult-to-reach complex sugars and alcohols – cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin – from agriculture and for  (go to article)

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Keystone Foes Winning Celebrity Battle Supporters Dismiss

Bloomberg News -- Foes of the Keystone XL oil pipeline appear to be winning the battle for endorsements from Hollywood celebrities and prominent personalities.

Will it make a difference?

Actors Mark Ruffalo, Robert Redford, Kyra Sedgwick, Jared Leto, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have come out against the $5.4 billion project. “Splash” star Daryl Hannah has been arrested at least three times at Keystone protests -- once after chaining herself to the White House fence. This week, former President Jimmy Carter joined nine other Nobel Peace Prize laureates in urging President Barack Obama to reject the project.

Having Hollywood stars and former heads of state on your side doesn’t assure success, but it can help “build up public concern and real outrage,” said Larry Noble, a counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a  (go to article)

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