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Report: 85,000 temporary driver's licenses issued to Illinois' undocumented immigrants

fox news latino -- More than 85,000 undocumented immigrants living in Illinois have driver’s licenses under a new state program.

The tally comes after the first full year that the program – which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a license that is good for up to three years – has been in place in Illinois, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reported.

Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Henry Haupt says nearly 190,000 people have scheduled appointments since the program began in late 2013.

“(Secretary of State Jesse White) thinks the program has been very successful,” he said.

The $30 licenses may only be used for diving. They can’t be used as identification for activities like boarding a plane, voting or buying a firearm.  (go to article)

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GM halts sales of some large SUVs after Goodyear recalls tires

Associated Press -- Goodyear Tire & Rubber is recalling about 48,500 SUV tires after finding small cracks in the tread during endurance testing
The move has forced GM to stop selling about 6,300 Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave models until the tires are replaced
The recall covers 18" Fortera HL tires made from Nov 30, 2014, through Jan 10
Goodyear said the problem hasn’t caused any crashes
About 32,100 of the tires were made for the GM SUVs, which are produced at a factory near Lansing, MI
Another 16,400 were sold as replacement tires
The 18" tires are on about 30% of vehicles made at the plant, and the problem has not affected production
Owners can have the tires replaced for free at any Goodyear store or authorized dealer  (go to article)

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Anti-Tesla Laws In AZ, MI, NJ & TX Nominated For 'Luddite Award'

Green Car Reports -- "Awards to dealerships and car-dealer groups are common, and often both appreciated and promoted by their recipients.

"A new award nomination that recognizes the work of state dealer lobbyists, however, is not likely to get that appreciation or publicity--at least from dealers in those four states.

"Instead, it's likely to please Tesla owners and advocates, who do not have to buy or shop for their electric cars at a conventional franchised dealership. ..."  (go to article)

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US gas stations may be ripe for hacking

FOX News -- In today's entry of "things you didn't know could be hacked," let's discuss gas stations. That roadside filling stations might have Internet connections is perhaps not so surprising, but that's where their technical sophistication often ends. The problem is that many fueling stations in the United States use Internet-connected industrial devices that aren't even secured with so much as a password.  (go to article)

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Survey shows US gas prices fell 13 cents a gallon to lowest in 5 years, but increases likely

Associated Press -- CAMARILLO, Calif. – The average price of a regular gallon of gas dropped 13 cents in the past two weeks to $2.07, but it could soon rise.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the lowest prices in more than five years are likely to increase because of rising wholesale prices.
 (go to article)

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Crude oil settles down 44 cents, at $45.15 a barrel

Reuters -- U.S. oil prices ended lower Monday, ahead of the first big snowstorm this year in the country's Northeast, while benchmark Brent crude fell after pledges of no policy change by the top oil exporter Saudi Arabia after King Abdullah's death.  (go to article)

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Is now the time to buy a hybrid or EV?

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..usnews.rankingsandreviews.comAs contradictory as it may seem, the low fuel prices we are seeing are your best friend if you want to buy a hybrid or EV these days. 
Ford’s Focus Electric hatchback, which sells at an average of 16 percent off MSRP, tops January’s list of best savings on new vehicles, according to TrueCar, Inc.“Fuel savings are not top of mind to many consumers right now, and that makes this a great time to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle,” said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar. “With gasoline prices now averaging close to $2 per gallon, and vehicle preferences tied so closely to short-term gasoline prices, automakers are heavily discounting their most fuel-efficient cars to clear inventories.”  ...  (go to article)

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Sheriffs Want Popular Police-Tracking App Disabled

NBC -- Sheriffs Want Popular Police-Tracking App Disabled

Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are nearby. They say one of the technology industry's most popular mobile apps could put officers' lives in danger from would-be police killers who can find where their targets are parked.  (go to article)

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Wind power sets off revolt in Michigan'sThumb

Detroit News -- Huron County has been the main test lab for Michigan's expansion of wind power, but the experiment is setting off a revolt.

The area at the tip of Michigan's Thumb is home to more than 300 operating turbines — nearly half of all those generating electricity in the state. That's 11 wind farms with a footprint somewhere in the county, and several others in the pipeline that could push the total number of turbines to 1,000 and beyond in the area about 110 miles from Detroit.

But Huron County officials are reviewing a proposed moratorium on new turbines and will likely vote on the issue in the coming weeks. A stoppage would give elected officials a chance to review current zoning laws, which some critics say have not done enough to protect property owners.

It also would be a big change for  (go to article)

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No matter how you do the math, we’re right on the edge of $2.00 gas

Washington Post -- Across the country today, 28 different states are now selling regular gasoline for under $ 2.00, on average. And yet the nationally averaged gas price, according to AAA, remains at $ 2.03. What’s up with that?

The answer — with the country on the cusp of $ 2.00 gas — is that it all lies in how you do the math.
 (go to article)

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Oil slides to near 6-year low

FuelFix.com -- Oil fell from the lowest closing price in almost six years amid signs that Saudi Arabia’s new king will maintain its production policy, bolstering speculation that a global glut will persist.

Futures dropped as much as 2.7 percent in New York, extending last week’s 6.4 percent slide. King Salman, who took the Saudi throne on Jan. 23, pledged to maintain the policies of his predecessor. U.S. inventories climbed to the highest level for December since 1930, the American Petroleum Institute reported. Greek voters handed election victory to Syriza, a party that’s pledged to end austerity and renegotiate an international bailout.  (go to article)

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Airfares stay sky high despite oil price drops

LA Times -- I'm frustrated that airfares have not followed the decline in oil prices over the last few months. Airfares certainly followed oil prices as they rose last year.  (go to article)

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Couple Is Missing After Long Drive to Meet Craigslist Seller

AP -- A Georgia couple is missing after driving across the state to check out a classic car advertised on Craigslist, and police say the man who last had phone contact with them faces charges.

Investigators have obtained warrants for 28-year-old Ronnie Adrian "Jay" Towns on charges of giving false statements and criminal attempt to commit theft by deception. He hasn't been accused of harming 69-year-old Elrey "Bud" Runion and his wife 66-year-old June Runion.

Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson tells WMAZ-TV in Macon (on.wmaz.com/15zHjtJ) that Towns was interviewed, and information he provided didn't match what investigators knew of the case.  (go to article)

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Gasoline price slide continues in 40 states

GasBuddy Blog -- Motorists in 40 states saw gasoline prices continue to edge down, while unlucky motorists in 10 states- Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and Wisconsin- saw prices edge higher.

It may only be a matter of days before the national average stalls, and with gasoline prices rising today in Ohio, the situation is not helped. Meanwhile, oil prices have inched forward this morning on comments made by OPEC's Secretary General, who said "Now the prices are around $45-$55 and I think maybe they reached the bottom and will see some rebound very soon." ...  (go to article)

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OPEC’s El-Badri Says $200 Oil Possible With Lack of Spending

BloombergBusinessweek -- OPEC’s secretary-general said oil prices as high as $200 a barrel are possible if producers fail to invest in new supply. Crude futures erased losses London and New York.

“If you don’t invest in oil and gas, you will see more than $200,” Abdalla El-Badri said in an interview in London on Monday, without giving a timeframe. Brent, a global benchmark, erased an earlier decline of as much as 2.5 percent and traded as high as $49.29.

Crude prices tumbled 48 percent last year as Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said they wouldn’t curb output in response to a supply glut. The International Energy Agency, the Paris-based adviser to 29 nations, said Jan. 21 that a decline in prices may deter investment in all types of energy.  (go to article)

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Oil prices turn positive as OPEC secretary general calls bottom to market

Reuters -- By Himanshu Ojha

LONDON - Oil prices turned positive on Monday, erasing early losses after the Secretary-General of the OPEC producer group said he expected the market to bottom out around current levels.  (go to article)

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UPDATE 5-Oil prices turn positive as OPEC sec gen calls bottom to market

Reuters -- Oil prices turned positive on Monday, erasing early losses after the Secretary-General of the OPEC producer group said he expected the market to bottom out around current levels.

March Brent crude was trading at $49.13 per barrel by 1317 GMT, up 34 cents, bouncing from an early low of $47.57.

"Now the prices are around $45-$55 and I think maybe they reached the bottom and will see some rebound very soon," Abdullah al-Badri, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in an interview.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for March delivery was at $45.94 a barrel, up 35 cents. Front-month WTI had touched an intraday low of $44.35, just above the $44.20 hit on Jan. 13, which was its lowest level since April 2009.

After a smooth transition in Saudi Arabia  (go to article)

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As Oil Prices Fall, Alaska’s New Governor Faces a Novel Goal, Frugality

NY Times -- As a crowd of lawmakers and staff members bustled up and down the central staircase here at the State Capitol on the opening day of Alaska’s legislative session last week, a string quartet could be heard on a landing above, sweetly playing in backdrop to a midafternoon cookie-and-crudités reception.

“Maybe it’s the band from the Titanic,” a wiseacre on the stairway sniped, to an eruption of laughter.

Alaska is not a sinking ship, but no one needed an explanation of the gallows-humor remark, as a record-setting sea of red ink has flooded the state budget amid a global collapse of energy prices. Taxes paid by oil companies account for 90 percent of the state’s operating budget, and those revenues have sunk with stomach-churning suddenness and depth, echoing other oil-patch states, like Tex  (go to article)

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Hedge Funds Bet Oil Will Fall Further

Bloomberg -- Hedge funds boosted bearish wagers on oil to a four-year high as U.S. supplies grew the most since 2001.
Money managers increased short positions in West Texas Intermediate crude to the highest level since September 2010 in the week ended Jan. 20, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Net-long positions slipped for the first time in three weeks.

“There’s been a rush to call a bottom,” John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy, said by phone Jan. 23. “The fundamentals are still stacked against a rebound.”

“I don’t see any major catalyst from either the supply or demand side that will send prices higher this year,” Stewart Glickman, an equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ in New York, said by phone Jan 23. “It looks like $50 cru  (go to article)

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Your governer, local senator, congressmen input in gas price

American Petroleum Institute -- If your state's prices at gas pump high or low, your local tax is THE MAIN REASON. Your local representatives directly responsible for keeping it the way they are.
So, click on your state and say "Thank you!" to your guy, weather sincerely or sarcastically.
But don't take "C'est la vie"  (go to article)

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Obama Moves to Put Much of Refuge Off Limits to Drilling

Bloomberg -- President Barack Obamawill take steps to restrict 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas exploration, a move denounced by Alaskan lawmakers who have fought for years to open the area up to drillers.

The administration on Sunday announced a plan to add protections to the refuge and also called on Congress to designate “core areas” of the 19.8 million-acre refuge as wilderness, including its Coastal Plain, according to a statement from the Interior Department. The designation is the highest level of protection from development that’s available to public lands, according to the department.

“Designating vast areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness reflects the significance this landscape holds for America and its wildlife,” Interior Secret  (go to article)

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Oil Slides to Near 6-Year Low; Saudi Arabia Holds Firm Despite Supply Glut

Bloomberg -- Oil fell from the lowest closing price in almost six years amid signs that Saudi Arabia’s new king will maintain its production policy, bolstering speculation that a global glut will persist.

Futures dropped as much as 2.7 percent in New York, extending last week’s 6.4 percent slide. King Salman, who took the Saudi throne on Jan. 23, pledged to maintain the policies of his predecessor. U.S. inventories climbed to the highest level for December since 1930, the American Petroleum Institute reported. Greek voters handed election victory to Syriza, a party that’s pledged to end austerity and renegotiate an international bailout.

Oil slumped almost 60 percent since June as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries resisted calls to cut output and the U.S. pumped at the fastest pace in  (go to article)

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Where to Buy Gasoline for $0.002 a Gallon, Seriously

Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance -- Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro told lawmakers last week he's considering raising gasoline prices.

That might be a good idea.

It's been two decades since the government last lifted state-set local prices, the result of politicians' concern that the move could spark protests like those that swept across the oil-rich nation following an increase in 1989.

In the interim, a string of currency devaluations has pushed down the cost in dollar terms to levels that would seem implausible to consumers in other parts of the world, even after the recent oil tumble cut prices at the pump.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows it now costs about 0.2 U.S. cent (that's right; one-fifth of a penny) to buy a gallon of gasoline in Venezuela, based on black-market currency rates. Expressed another way, you can  (go to article)

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Local drivers don’t want gas tax to increase

Journal News -- With average gasoline prices at their lowest in years, some lawmakers are tinkering with a proposal to increase the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993.
The gas tax is 18.4 cents a gallon, and diesel fuel tax is 24.4 cents a gallon. The taxes bring in approximately $34 billion a year to the federal Highway Trust Fund, but the government spends about $50 billion a year. The trust fund has been the main source of federal transportation aid to states for more than 60 years.  (go to article)

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Sheriffs want popular police-tracking app disabled

AP thru Yahoo Finance -- Sheriffs push Google to disable police-tracker from popular traffic smartphone app Waze.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are nearby. They say one of the technology industry's most popular mobile apps could put officers' lives in danger from would-be police killers who can find where their targets are parked.

Waze, which Google purchased for $966 million in 2013, is a combination of GPS navigation and social networking. Fifty million users in 200 countries turn to the free service for real-time traffic guidance and warnings about nearby congestion, car accidents, speed traps or traffic cameras, construction zones, potholes, stalled vehicles or unsafe weather conditions.
 (go to article)

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Airasia Scraps Fuel Surcharges As Oil Price Plummets

AP -- Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier AirAsia is scrapping fuel surcharges on tickets following the decline in global oil prices.

AirAsia said the move also applies to flights under its long-haul arm AirAsia X.

Oil prices are now below $50 per barrel after 6 months of declines, pushing down jet fuel prices.

Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said the move will help reduce travel costs, stimulate demand and boost tourism in the region.

Airlines impose the surcharges to pass on higher fuel costs to travelers when fuel prices are rising.

Rivals Virgin Australia and Cebu Pacific in the Philippines abolished fuel surcharges earlier this month.

AirAsia has dominated cheap travel in Southeast Asia for years but faces rising competition from the proliferation of discounts airlines in Asia.  (go to article)

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For Saudis, Falling Demand for Oil Is the Biggest Concern

Bloomberg -- As the world’s oil producers wring their hands over a global glut that’s pushing down prices, evidence is mounting that Saudi Arabia is more concerned about shrinking demand.

The world’s largest exporter has chosen not to cut production, counting instead on lower prices to stimulate consumption, said Mohammad Al Sabban, an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister from 1988 to 2013. The Saudis are keeping an eye on investments in fuel efficiency and renewable energy, according to Francisco Blanch, Bank of America Corp.’s head of global commodity research.

“Nobody should imagine the world will continue to demand oil as long as you have it in your fields” Al Sabban said in an interview. “We need to prepare ourselves for that stage.”

The U.S. shale revolution showed that forecasts of...  (go to article)

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Price plunge aside, oil people look to next opport

The New Star -- Although oil prices have plunged aplenty over the past six months, from more than $100 a barrel to less than $50, today's oil business problems are light years away from what they were in Lafayette in the 1980s.

"We lost 146,000 jobs in the 1980s," former LSU economist Loren Scott said of Louisiana's oil downturn during a five-year stretch in that decade. "Lafayette lost right at 20 percent of their jobs; Houma, 24, percent. It was a bloodbath."

Times were so grim, said Steve Maley, Badger Oil Corp.'s manager of operations, that Charley G's restaurant linked its "lunch special" ticket to the price of a barrel of oil that day.

"I remember getting the lunch for $8.50," Maley recalled with a laugh.

Charlie Goodson, partner in Charley G's, said times weren't only tough on oil people. He  (go to article)

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Gas Prices Expected To Rise Again Soon, Say Experts

HNGN -- Despite the recent decline in gas prices across the country, experts expect them to rise due to the increase in crude oil prices.

The average gallon of gas in the United States dropped 13 cents in the past two weeks to $2.07 while crude oil prices have increased in the last 10 days, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The price of gas is 37 percent lower than this time last year.

The Energy Department believes that the average U.S. family will spend $750 less on gas than in 2014 because the average price will decrease from $3.36 to $2.33. However, Lundberg said the increase in crude oil prices will eventually be seen at the pump, the Seattle Times reported.

The decrease in crude oil prices is a result of onshore oil fields in North Dakota  (go to article)

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'Not Mayberry anymore': Oil patch cops scramble to keep up

CBS News -- WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — Police chief Art Walgren knew how much the oil boom had changed this once-sleepy town when he spotted something that would have been unheard of not long ago: license plates from Sinaloa, Mexico, home to one of the world's most violent drug cartels.

Before, there was little chance police would see cars here from nearly 2,000 miles away. And little reason to worry about out-of-state plates. Now, though, police are scrambling to deal with new kinds of suspicious activity and threats that have cropped up along this frozen prairie.

The gusher of oil and money flowing from the Bakken fields has made policing more demanding and dangerous, forcing small-town officers, county sheriffs and federal agents to confront everything from bar fights to far-reaching methamphetami  (go to article)

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Gunvor: No Rebound to $100 Oil, Contango to Deepen

Reuters via Downstream Today -- Oil trader Gunvor's head of analysis said on Thursday crude was unlikely to return to $100 a barrel in the foreseeable future, but prices were expected to be volatile as traders sought to move oil into storage during the current glut.

David Fyfe, formerly research chief at the International Energy Agency, said OPEC would not want to see a return to triple digits as lower prices, which have more than halved to below $50 since June, were only now starting to slow output from outside the producer group.

"Why would they want that?" Fyfe asked an oil storage conference in Amsterdam of allowing oil to resettle above $100 per barrel. "They'd be back at square one."

Fyfe said the gap between spot prices and barrels for later delivery could widen further as traders look to finance the storage of  (go to article)

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Auto dealers sue Missouri over Tesla car sales

St Louis Post-Dispatch -- The Missouri Auto Dealers Association is suing the Missouri Department of Revenue and its director, Nia Ray, for allowing electric-car maker Tesla to sell vehicles directly to consumers.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cole County Circuit Court, the Missouri Auto Dealers Association, or MADA, alleges the revenue department issued a dealers license to Tesla to sell vehicles in Missouri in violation of state law.

Tesla, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of electric vehicles that was founded in 2003, does not sell its cars through traditional franchised dealerships. Rather, the company, led by billionaire CEO Elon Musk, sells vehicles from company-owned stores and over the Internet.

Tesla opened a $2 million service center in University City in June 2013 after it was issued a dealer licens  (go to article)

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The Return of 'Hot Fuel'

CSPnet.com -- KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After several years of litigation, a federal district court in Kansas City, Mo., has given preliminary approval to settlements with 28 defendants in a consumer class-action lawsuit concerning what has come to be called "hot fuel"--how gasoline and diesel motor fuel are sold at retail gas stations with regard to temperature.

The plaintiffs in the case before U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn H. Vratil said customers are shortchanged when buying gasoline that is over 60 degrees. Proponents of automatic temperature compensation (ATC) devices claim that consumers are getting less than a gallon of fuel for a full gallon price.  (go to article)

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Jack up the federal gas tax now

BostonGlobe -- YOU’RE NOT paying nearly enough for gasoline. Especially now.

The price of gasoline has plunged; the nationwide average recently fell to about $2 a gallon. On the upside, Americans get to spend their money on better things. The economy is improving. And if you’re into schadenfreude, you can revel in the woes befalling unsavory oil-rich regimes. But lower prices at the pump also encourage more reckless consumption of a vital but problematic fuel, one whose market price doesn’t take into account the pollution, congestion, or traffic accidents that it enables.  (go to article)

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How our furry friends could be costing drivers billions per year

CNBC -- If you happen to meet Bambi one night while driving on a dark road, here's a suggestion: Hit her.

Animal rights activists and nature lovers will surely disagree. Yet a wide body of evidence suggests that motorists should actually hit animals that jump in front of their cars instead of trying to avoid them.

Why? Because by some estimates, swerving to avoid the loss of animal life is a very costly problem. While being responsible for the death of an animal is tough to carry on your conscience, some auto safety experts say its better than the alternatives  (go to article)

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Oregon becomes dumping ground for California's old, polluting diesel big rigs

The Oregonian/OregonLive -- About 350,000 trucks in California are being phased out because they fail to meet that state's stricter standards. Trucking companies have found willing buyers in Oregon and elsewhere where environmental standards are looser.  (go to article)

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A Psychological Speed Limit

New York Times -- ON average, vehicles seriously injure or kill someone in New York every two hours; last year, 173 pedestrians were killed. Last week Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill allowing New York City to enact a citywide default speed limit of 25 miles per hour as part of its “Vision Zero” campaign to reduce traffic deaths to nil.

As much political wrangling as the bill took, a sterner challenge to the new limit looms: Getting drivers to obey it. What, after all, is so dangerous about driving 5 or 10 m.p.h. above the new speed, a difference the driver may hardly register?  (go to article)

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Golden Gate Bridge barrier leads to rampant speeding, new rules

San Francisco Chronicle -- The California Highway Patrol announced Thursday that it is stepping up enforcement of speed limits on the Waldo Grade in Marin as well as at the bridge and toll plaza. The reason is that in the days since the more secure movable median barrier was installed, the average speed of drivers on the approach from the north has jumped even though the speed limit was lowered from 55 to 45 miles per hour.  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia’s new king unlikely to change direction on oil production

The Globe and Mail -- "Olivier Jakob of Switzerland’s Petromatrix, one of the few energy research firms that called the price drop last summer, says the figures show it is Canadian crude that has emerged as the big threat to the Saudis in the United States. “Saudi Arabia, I think, is much more scared about Canadian oil coming down to the U.S. than about U.S. shale oil,” he said in an interview. “With the Seaway pipeline starting to bring heavy Canadian crude to the U.S. Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela will be under market share fear.”  (go to article)

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Obama administration to propose new wilderness protections in Arctic refuge

The Washington Post -- he Obama administration will propose setting aside the 1.4 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness, according to individuals briefed on the plan, a move that will spark a fierce battle with the new Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, Lisa Murkowski

The announcement, which could come as early as Sunday, is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make in the coming week that will affect the state’s oil and gas production. The department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
 (go to article)

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With King Abdullah’s death, new realities may force Saudi Arabia to change oil policy

Financial Post -- Despite Saudi A’s best effort to portray an image of continuity, the world’s largest oil exporter is facing new challenges threatening its dominance in oil markets and influence in the Middle E
The G20 nation, which sources 85% of its export revenues from crude oil, is also locked in a battle for market share with other suppliers
But oil traders hoping that Saudi will radically alter its course under the new king may be disappointed in the short term
“King Salman, age 79, has emphasized that he will maintain continuity with the current policy of squeezing out high-cost production from the oil markets, particularly geopolitically disruptive shale, a key implication for markets
Despite the changes, Saudi A will maintain its iron grip on OPEC, despite questions about the group’s future after  (go to article)

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Mannequin on billboard spurs 911 calls about possible jumper

CBS News -- SPERRY, Iowa - A mannequin that had been placed atop a billboard in Des Moines County, Iowa prompted several calls to 911 from people who thought someone was going to take a leap.

The Hawk Eye reports that sheriff's deputies were first dispatched early Monday to check for a possible jumper along U.S. Highway 61 near Sperry. Sheriff Mike Johnstone says his deputies soon realized it was a mannequin sitting on the billboard, which says, "I can see Deery Brothers in West Burlington from here."

Johnstone eventually talked to the advertiser, Brad Deery, who owns Deery Brothers car dealership in West Burlington. Deery says he arranged to have the mannequin taken down after he talked to the sheriff on Thursday. Deery says he didn't want calls about the mannequin tying up 911 dispatchers.

 (go to article)

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Drop in crude oil prices threatens rail tank-car orders

St Louis Post Dispatch -- Add tank-car makers to the list of U.S. industries bracing for the effects from the plunge in crude prices.

While 2014’s record orders, including an all-time high of 42,900 in the third quarter, will drive deliveries this year, manufacturers from Carl Icahn’s American Railcar Industries to Warren Buffett’s Union Tank Car face a decline. New bookings in 2015 may plunge 70 percent, Macquarie Capital USA said, putting earnings at risk when scheduled deliveries drop in 2016.

Oil prices down 49 percent since June have crimped investment in U.S. fields including the Bakken range, where horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is more expensive than conventional oil drilling. That has hurt industries from steel to heavy equipment. It also has slowed the boom in oil-by-rail shipping, ...  (go to article)

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Researchers strive to solve dangerous distracted driving by cops

Today -- On Nov. 23, 2007, Jessica Uhl, 18, and her sister Kelli Uhl, 13, were in heavy post-Thanksgiving Day traffic on Interstate 64 as they headed home to their mother, Kim Schlau, in Collinsville, Illinois, after a holiday photo session at their father's home in the Illinois town of Mascoutah.

Matt Mitchell, an Illinois state trooper, was also on Interstate 64, responding to a call while talking on his cellphone and using his police computer. He crossed the median and plowed into the sisters' car at an estimated speed of 126 mph, killing them both instantly. Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and reckless driving, lost his license, and can never be an officer again.

"After we learned all of the facts, we knew that this crash was completely preventable," Schlau said.  (go to article)

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Fueled by oil, agriculture sector welcomes low diesel prices

Yahoo -- The recent plunge in fuel prices has been a welcome relief across the agricultural sector, helping ease the pain of low grain prices for growers and boosting profits for cattle ranchers.

"Every movement we make in farming takes fuel," Kansas cattle rancher and hay grower Randy Cree said.

Livestock producers in the Midwest and vegetable growers in the Sun Belt alike are reaping the immediate benefits. And with average retail gas prices for 2015 forecast to be about $1 lower than last year, farmers this spring may end up planting more energy-intensive crops, such as corn or rice, as the cost to irrigate and cultivate drops.

Consumers, however, shouldn't expect to see lower prices at the supermarket. Transportation costs constitute only a small slice of those prices, and it takes months,  (go to article)

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Why Oil Prices May Not Recover Anytime Soon

Motley Fool -- There is a sharp split among energy experts about the future direction of oil prices. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal recently stated that oil prices could keep falling for quite a while and opined that $100 a barrel oil will never come back. Earlier this month, investment bank Goldman Sachs weighed in by slashing its short-term oil price target from $80 a barrel all the way to $42 a barrel.

But there are still plenty of optimists like billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who has vocally argued that oil will bounce back to $100 a barrel within 12 months-18 months. Pickens thinks that Saudi Arabia will eventually give in and cut production. However, this may be wishful thinking. Supply and demand fundamentals point to more lean times ahead for oil producers.

Oil supply is comfortably ahead of de  (go to article)

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Cheap oil means pain in North Dakota

Minneapolis Star-Tribune -- The state of North Dakota publishes a daily update on active oil drilling rigs. At last check, the number was down to 159, from 189 last year at this time and well off the May 2012 peak of 218.

The question is how low the count will fall this year. It’s clearly headed to fewer than 100. Closer to zero than 100?

That kind of pessimism might seem excessive, as industries just don’t get cut in half in a matter of months. But in talking with folks in the oil business last week, a 50 percent contraction in drilling activity is the view through rose-colored glasses. It’s perhaps more realistic to think it’s could be down 75 percent.

I didn’t reach any self-described pessimists. Perhaps they have already started looking for another line of work.

What’s happened in the global oil market is  (go to article)

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The Oil Price Tag That Investors Say Would Signal a Global Recession

Forbes -- The decline of oil prices to less than $50 a barrel has an undeniably positive effect on the global economy. From the U.S. to China, people are driving more and spending more, a much needed economic boost in generally glum times.

But to investors, a too-low oil price can also be a sign of trouble. The price of oil has certainly dropped because of an increase in supply – specifically, OPEC’s refusal to cut production and the vast amount of shale oil and gas being pumped in the United States. But the price of oil is also a product of slowing economic growth and declining demand, especially from China, Japan and the Eurozone.
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So what exactly is too low when it comes to oil prices? According to a recent survey of investors, the tipping point may be around $30.

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Canada Report: Collapse in oil prices prompts move to stabilize economy

Tampa Bay Times -- The rapid collapse of oil prices has prompted the Bank of Canada to cut its trendsetting interest rate to stabilize the economy.

"The drop in oil prices is unambiguously negative for the Canadian economy" central bank governor Stephen Poloz said as the rate fell to 0.75 percent from 1 percent, which it had been at for four years.

As an oil-producing nation — the U.S. buys more crude from Canada than from any other country — the economic impact of cheap fuel threatens Canada's economic rebound and a return to a balanced federal budget.

So far Canada's commercial banks have made no move to lower their prime-lending rate still at 3 percent.

The rate cut immediately caused the Canadian dollar to fall by about 3 cents from a week ago to the 80-cent U.S. range, but it boosted stock markets.  (go to article)

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Long-term solution for wastewater disposal eludes shale gas industry

TRIBLIVE -- Defining wastewater disposal in the Marcellus shale fields has been a moving target.

Drillers initially sent millions of gallons to public water treatment plants, until regulators said the plants were not equipped to properly clean the salt- and metal-laden water that comes from shale gas wells. The traditional method of injecting it back into deep wells is less feasible in Pennsylvania, which has few such wells, and Ohio is accepting less wastewater because of potential links between injection and earthquakes.

The search for a solution has spawned an industry of companies and innovators looking for ways to treat or reuse the wastewater that environmentalists feared would foul drinking supplies.

“They can barge all this water somewhere else or reuse it, which is what we're seeing now,”  (go to article)

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Minnesota drivers: Get ready for more roundabouts

Star Tribune -- Circle the (station) wagons — more roundabouts are on the way. Roundabouts are taking on a prominent role in Minnesota’s transportation planning. More than 140 have been built since the state’s first roundabout opened 20 years ago in Brooklyn Park, with the pace picking up rapidly in recent years. Another 40 are either under construction or in planning. There are dozens of roundabouts in the Twin Cities, but you’ll also find them in places like Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids, Rochester and Worthington. Blue Earth is getting three, and six are on the drawing board for Mankato. Studies have shown that roundabouts have significant advantages over four-way intersections controlled by traffic signals. Roundabouts have fewer accidents overall, and far fewer that result in death or serious injury. Th  (go to article)

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