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"Federal Coal Program Costing Taxpayers And States More Than $1 Billion Per Year In Lost Royalties"

Headwaters Economics, 2015 -- Today, coal extracted from federal land is an important source of energy and revenue in the United States, and the federal government owns roughly one-third of total coal reserves.

Despite the importance of federal coal resources, the current royalty structure is opaque and costly to administer, and the returns to the U.S. public are unclear.
Findings

This report’s analysis suggests that the federal government is not receiving a fair return for American taxpayers. The average current effective tax rate of 4.9 percent falls well short of statutory rates and is lower than the effective rates paid by oil and natural gas extracted from federal lands.

As a result, current federal policies cost taxpayers roughly $850 million between 2008 and 2012.  (go to article)

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US House Passes Bill Aimed at Expediting Natural Gas Exports

AP via Downstream Today -- The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at expediting approvals of natural gas exports.

In a 277-133 vote, the House approved a bill giving the Energy Department a 30-day deadline to authorize natural gas exports from facilities after they are reviewed and approved.

It's the third energy-related bill passed by the House this Congress. They have also approved bills authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and fast-tracking new natural gas pipelines.

"Unfortunately, our nation's energy infrastructure, mired in red tape and an outdated permitting process, has failed to keep up with today's growing pace of energy production," said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, whose state which has received three  (go to article)

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US West Coast refiners take advantage of US-Singapore FTA to export more

Platts -- Shell has joined BP, Phillips 66, and other West Coast refiners in capitalizing on the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement by exporting clean product to Singapore, Platts data showed Wednesday.

"You can't do much but export. West Coast is a net export market. Any country there is [a free trade agreement] with, there is no import duty, or minimal if any," a West Coast refined products source said.

The US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement -- signed in 2004 -- immediately resulted in zero tariffs on all US products to Singapore. Also, gasoline product exports to Singapore are not subject to RINS costs, making exports even more appealing for refiners.

Shell has charted the Silver Cindy to export gasoline to Singapore, market sources said. The Silver Cindy -- a 38,000 mt MR that is capable of car  (go to article)

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Advance Doubles the Longevity of High-Energy Electric Car Batteries

Technology Review -- Lithium-air batteries are attractive because of their huge theoretical energy storage capacity, which is, by weight, roughly 10 times higher than the conventional lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles today. That means an electric car using such batteries could easily travel the 350-plus miles people expect from a tank of gasoline, and the battery could be much smaller and cheaper than conventional batteries.

 (go to article)

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Thune urges White House to delay tank car safety rules

USA TODAY -- An Obama administration effort to boost the safety of tank cars used to transport crude and other materials by train could disrupt the country’s already congested rail network if an unrealistic proposal is allowed to go forward, the head of the powerful Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said Wednesday.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who chairs the Senate panel that oversees the country’s railroads, said the government was moving too quickly with a proposal for phasing out or retrofitting older freight-rail tank cars known as DOT-111 that carry crude oil and ethanol. The Transportation Department is to finalize the regulations on May 12, before giving the rail industry two years to comply.
 (go to article)

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Pipeline explodes in West Virginia

Daily Kos -- Another day, another gas pipeline bursts—this time in West Virginia, about an hour away from Pittburgh and near the Ohio River.

A number of residents have said they saw what appeared to be a large fireball burning in the sky.
Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson said the explosion is near the former riding stables on Archer Hill Road in Colliers, WV. Jackson said no injuries have been reported and no structural damage has occurred, but several area roads have been closed because of burning gas.
It appears only one home was evacuated and the fire eventually burnt off. At least one home and one power line has been damaged. There were no injuries. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.  (go to article)

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Hamm: Oil prices could rise sooner than you think

FuelFix.com -- HOUSTON — The market doesn’t understand just how quickly oil companies are scaling back their activities, and as a result, oil prices could rebound faster than many observers expect, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm said Wednesday.

Hamm, addressing the Argus Americas Crude Summit in downtown Houston, noted the slew of companies that have quickly pulled back on their capital expenditures as oil prices have fallen by more than 50 percent since the summer.

He said exploration and production companies can’t afford to borrow money, and falling stock prices make it hard to raise cash by issuing equity. “You’re limited in what you can do if you don’t conserve cash,” said Hamm, whose company is primarily active in North Dakota and Oklahoma.  (go to article)

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We are about to find out how much pain the great oil crash has unleashed

Bloomberg News -- The world’s biggest oil producers, historically resilient with their mix of energy exploration, refining and chemical manufacturing, are about to reveal how they are weathering the great oil crash
Financial results will start trickling in Thu for Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Total and BP from a Q4 that saw the price of oil drop from $115 to below $50
“The issue for this group of companies is they don’t have bulletproof business models.A 57% plunge in the price of oil since Jun really tests your convictions
Companies that pump 1/10 of the world’s crude scramble to tighten budgets and preserve cash for dividends, buybacks and capital projects too far along to abandon
BP froze wages, Chevron delayed its 2015 budget and Shell canceled a $6.5B Persian Gulf investment; layoffs have topped 30,000
Panic  (go to article)

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gas prices going up in edmonton by about $0.10 per liter

gasbuddy -- GMA News -- Oil companies on Tuesday will increase prices of gasoline and slash prices of diesel.

Chevron, effective 6:00 a.m., Tuesday, will increase its gasoline prices by P0.30 per liter and cut prices of its diesel by P0.10 per liter, according to a GMA News' "24 Oras" report on Monday.

Petron, Seaoil, and Phoenix Petroleum will hike their gasoline prices by P0.30 per liter and cut their diesel prices by P0.10 per liter at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday,

Shell will increase gasoline prices by 0.30 per liter and cut prices of their diesel by 0.10 per liter effective 12:01 a.m., Tuesday

There is no price adjustment for kerosene products.

According to a GMA News "24 Oras" report on Tuesday, the Department of Energy earlier said the price of petroleum products will go up this week a  (go to article)

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Oil drops on record-high U.S. crude stocks as pressure mounts

Reuters -- NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Wednesday after the U.S. government reported record-high crude inventories, adding to anxieties about the global glut that has pressured the market since last summer.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said domestic crude oil stocks rose by almost 9 million barrels last week to reach nearly 407 million, their highest since the government began keeping records in 1982.

 (go to article)

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How GM Will Use Multiple Aluminum Joining Technologies in the New Cadillac

eNGINEERING.COM -- In manufacturing engineering, the search for the “best way” to fasten components into subassemblies is a major part of the job. There are lots of options for fastening sheet metal, and in auto body assembly, spot welding has been the method of choice for decades.

Now that aluminum is becoming the preferred unibody construction material, General Motors is using a novel mixed approach to building the new Cadillac CT6 large sedan.

The Cadillac CT6 goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015. It will be built at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant using a unique combination of joining techniques, a first for any General Motors’ model. A new body shop with advanced technologies – including 205 robots – has been added to the plant.  (go to article)

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Wall St. Journal says U.S. 'intelligence gathering' tracks millions of us and our vehicles

GasBuddy Blog -- Did you know that in the name of crime-fighting and tracking people who may be involved in drug-trafficking, the Drug Enforcement Agency's database is expanding to track the movements of millions of us in our vehicles? 

A new report from the Wall Street Journal says the Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists.

Does it worry you that 'Big Brother' may indeed be watching you that closely? ...  (go to article)

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Nissan recalls 768,000 crossovers and SUVs for separate problems

Reuters -- Nissan Motor Co is recalling about 768,000 vehicles, including its popular Rogue crossover and Pathfinder SUV, for separate problems, the company and U.S. regulators said on Wednesday.

Some 552,135 Rogues from model years 2008 and 2013 will be recalled because moisture could seep through the driver side floor and cause an electrical short to wiring that could lead to a fire, Nissan and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said. Of the total, 468,815 are registered in the United States.
 (go to article)

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Cenovus latest to slash 2015 capital budget on low oil prices

Canadian Press -- Cenovus Energy has lowered its 2015 capital budget to between $1.8-$2B, which is about $700M less than the previous estimate and more than 15% below last year’s spending levels
The latest capital spend reduction comes 6 wks after the company announced a planned budget drop to between $2.5-$2.7B, down from the the $3-$3.1B
It’s also looking for ways to reduce annual operating and cost reductions by between $400-500M in the yrs ahead
The Calgary-based oil producer and refiner is making the move to preserve cash in response to further erosion in oil prices.It’s suspending most of its conventional drilling program in S AB and SK, but will continue projects at the Christina Lake and Foster Creek oilsands in N AB
Cenovus CEO believes crude oil prices will rebound, but the timing is uncertain
 (go to article)

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EIA: Crude oil inventories surge again, while gasoline inventories drop

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

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories increased by 8.9 million barrels to a total of 406.7 million barrels. At 406.7 million barrels, inventories are 49.1 million barrels above last year (13.7%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels to 238.3 million barrels. At 238.3 million barrels, inventories are up 3.9 million barrels, or 1.7% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.7mb); Midwest (+0.3mb); Gulf Coast (-0.3mb); Rockies (-0.2mb); and West Coast (-0.6mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this informa  (go to article)

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Falling crude prices will leave oilfield services companies ‘parked,’ may trigger layoffs

Financial Post -- CALGARY – Depressed oil prices will cause many producers to drill, but not draw from, new wells, with the result that oilfield service companies will suffer from the drop in activity, the head of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada said Tuesday.

“The wells in some cases will be drilled and not completed,” PSAC president Mark Salkeld said in an interview, adding that companies would drill those wells just to satisfy contractual obligations on their leases. “The ripple effect to our members is that we’re parked.”
 (go to article)

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Crude oil bottom seen at $40: CNBC Fed survey

CNBC -- Crude oil's free fall may be close to bottoming, according to CNBC's January Fed Survey.

Wall Streeters in the survey forecast that the lowest price for WTI crude in the current downturn will be $40 on average per barrel, about $6 below its current price. Among the 33 economists, money managers and investment strategists surveyed, the range of bottom estimates was $25 to $48.
 (go to article)

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The New Tesla Car Has A Button Called ‘Insane Mode’

Business Insider -- Tesla introduced its dual-motor Model S late last year, and among the many improvements it has over the original Model S is its incredible acceleration.
The standard Model S can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is pretty fast, but the new dual-motor Model S can get there in just 3.2 seconds — "roller-coaster stuff," in other words.

That kind of acceleration is comparable to some of the world’s fastest sports cars from Lamborghini and Ferrari, and even the McLaren F1 supercar.

You can go into “Insane Mode" by coming to a complete stop and toggling a button on the digital console, which will quickly accelerate the car to 60 to 70 mph in just a few wild seconds.

Most people have the same shocked reaction, as no one is really expecting “Insane Mode” to actually live up to its promi  (go to article)

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Goldman sees WTI close to $40 per barrel

Fox Business News -- Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday it expected prices for WTI crude oil to trade close to $40 per barrel for most of the first half of 2015 in one of the lowest forecasts among major investment banks.

Goldman, one of the most active banks in commodities, said that after a very weak first half prices should recover to $65 per barrel for WTI and $70 for Brent.

"This suggests a strong recovery from current prices, but the timing is uncertain and we would wait for signs of stabilization (less inventory build and better roll yields) before shifting to a more positive stance on commodities," Goldman said in a note.  (go to article)

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Gasoline line space on Colonial flips to negative values

Platts -- Colonial Pipeline line space for gasoline flipped to negative values Tuesday, suggesting that the line's biggest shippers were willing to pay to have it taken off their hands.

Space on the nation's largest pipeline, the 1.37 million b/d Line 1 from Texas to North Carolina, was heard traded midday Tuesday at minus 75 points for Colonial's sixth cycle, compared with 1.25 cents on Monday.

Line space at negative values points to a willingness by Colonial's biggest shippers to pay to ensure their line space is used. Shippers retain history with Colonial in a line space transaction. Line space reflects the premium or discount paid for access to the pipeline, with the buyer taking fuel off the line at an agreed-upon point as the shipper receives an equal amount of fuel at the origin.

A US refi  (go to article)

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Union signals U.S. refinery workers may have to strike

Reuters -- The United Steelworkers union signaled on Monday a strike by U.S. refinery workers may be necessary to win what it calls a fair contract from oil companies.

The last nationwide refinery workers strike was in 1980 and lasted for three months.

Union and oil company negotiators met for a sixth day of negotiations on Monday ahead of the current contract expiring at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday in the time zone where each refinery is located.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is leading the talks on behalf of companies ranging from supermajors such as Exxon Mobil Corp and BP Plc to smaller companies such as HollyFrontier Corp and Delek.

"Challenging bargaining continues," the USW said in a text message to members on Monday night. "Industry still isn't getting serious. Local unions are preparing to do whatever  (go to article)

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Ford recalls cars, vans for door latch and seat belt trouble

AP -- DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 221,000 cars and vans to fix problems with door latches and seat belts.

The biggest recall covers nearly 205,000 Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and Police Interceptor models in North America from the 2010 to 2013 model years. Ford says a door latch spring can become unseated, allowing the door to unlatch in a side-impact crash. The company says it knows of no injuries from the problem. Dealers will inspect the latches and replace door handles if needed.  (go to article)

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Cheap gas, powerful vehicles make it hard to meet CAFE

USA Today -- DETROIT -- There is a growing rift between the bigger and more powerful vehicles consumers want to buy and the fuel-efficient vehicles the government wants automakers to make — and the disconnect was eye-poppingly evident at the just concluded auto show here.

The crowds were deep around the 600-horsepower Ford GT and Acura NSX supercars, a 640-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V and the larger-than life Ford F-150 Raptor and Ram Rebel performance pickups. There was also a sexy little Alfa Romeo 4C convertible to ogle and an array of elegance on display from Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

Conversely, there were barely a handful of new electric or hybrid vehicles -- the second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt hybrid and Chevy Bolt electric vehicle concept,
 (go to article)

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Oil slips to $49 on huge U.S. stock build, firm dollar

Reuters -- Oil slipped to $49 a barrel on Wednesday after an industry report said U.S. crude stocks rose by the most in two decades last week, and as a firmer dollar added to pressure on prices.

The American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday that U.S. crude stocks jumped by a massive 12.7 million barrels last week, triple the volume expected, and including a 2 million barrel increase at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point of the U.S. oil contract. [API/S]

If confirmed by official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration at 1530 GMT on Wednesday, the weekly rise would be the biggest since March 1994, according to EIA data, and follows a 10.1 million barrel build last week. [EIA/S]

"Crude oil stocks in the U.S. still appear to be growing incessantly," Commerzbank analyst Carsten  (go to article)

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Gas prices finally stop falling

CNN Money -- The steady four-month decline in gas prices which has saved motorists more than a dollar per gallon has ended, at least for the moment.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas edged up a fraction of a penny to take the national average to $2.04 from $2.03 on Tuesday, according to AAA. It marked the first increase in 123 days, the longest such streak on record. Wednesday, the average price stayed unchanged.  (go to article)

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Gas tax hike idea fuels Michigan resistance

Detroit News -- Washington — A proposal to raise the federal gas tax to fix and build America's roads and bridges is proving unpopular with members of Michigan's congressional delegation.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, have reintroduced legislation to raise the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over two years, and then index it to inflation.

While Corker is open to other ideas, he and others have said they want a long-term fix to reverse the revenue slide in the federal highway trust fund.

But opponents in Michigan's congressional delegation sees a rise in the 18.4-cents-per-gallon tax for the failing highway trust fund as hitting middle-class and lower-income drivers too hard.

Even Gov. Rick Snyder, who unsuccessfully backed a hike in Michigan's gas tax but settled for a  (go to article)

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Houston man accused of lying about blowout preventer tests

Fuel Fix -- The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans says a 49-year-old Houston man is accused of lying about a blowout preventer test on an offshore oil and gas platform in 2012.

A bill of information charges Race Addington with two counts of making false statements to federal agencies about tests run Nov. 27, 2012, when he was well site supervisor.

The pressure chart recording the tests showed one required component wasn’t tested, and wasn’t signed or dated, according to the bill of information.

Addington allegedly had workers fake a test and showed that chart to federal inspectors on Nov. 29, 2012. He’s also accused of lying to investigators the following month.

If convicted on both counts, he could get up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

The bill of information does not identify  (go to article)

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Offshore drilling plan targets Atlantic and Arctic waters

Fuel Fix -- The Obama administration on Tuesday unveiled a plan to sell offshore drilling leases in Atlantic and Arctic waters that immediately alienated both the oil industry and environmentalists.

Oil industry leaders said the draft plan for selling drilling rights from 2017 to 2022 does not go far enough, because it excludes promising territory along the Northeast and off Florida’s east coast, while also locking up some Arctic waters previously open to development.

At the same time, environmentalists blasted the proposal, arguing that any drilling along the East Coast — even when limited to areas off just a handful of mid- and south-Atlantic states — could put the entire Eastern Seaboard at risk from oil spills.

Read more: Obama administration opens door to Atlantic drilling

The draft program,  (go to article)

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Obama’s Plan: Allow Drilling in Atlantic, but Limit It in Arctic

NY Times -- WASHINGTON — The Obama administration moved Tuesday to open up a vast stretch of East Coast waters to oil and gas drilling, a decision that could have a profound impact on the economic and environmental future of states from Virginia to Georgia. The move also adds a new dimension to the legacy of President Obama.

In an announcement that outraged environmentalists and brought grudging cheers from the oil and gas industry, the Interior Department unveiled the latest part of its five-year plan for the government to sell leases for oil and gas development in federal waters from 2017 to 2022.
 (go to article)

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Natural gas prices bounce as blizzard blows

CNN -- Prices for natural gas are bouncing this morning in New York as a blizzard blasts through the northeastern United States.
Natural gas futures are up 3.5% to roughly $3 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Traders appear to be expecting a surge in heating demand because of the blizzard.
Roughly half of American households use natural gas for heating and cooking.
The bounce comes as prices have taken a sharp fall over the last few weeks. Natural gas prices have plunged by about 35% since late November as unusually warm temperatures in the eastern United States have crimped overall demand.
Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov said natural gas prices have "always been notoriously weather-sensitive."
"Right now, in the midst of an epic blizzard (and thi  (go to article)

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Iraq Oil Surge to Fan OPEC Rivalry That Triggered Slump

BloombergBusiness -- The battle for customers among OPEC members that helped trigger oil’s collapse is about to escalate.

Iraqi crude production is climbing from a 35-year high as it adds growing Kurdish supplies to its exports while southern oilfields remain unscathed by Islamic State militants. Finding customers for the new output means offering more attractive terms than rivals in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries say Citigroup Inc. DNB ASA and Barclays Plc.

Oil’s biggest slump in six years gained momentum in October as a wave of discounts by Middle Eastern producers signaled OPEC members were intent on defending market share against booming shale output from the U.S. The price of Saudi crude for Asian buyers was cut to the lowest in at least 14 years last month, a move followed by Iraq...  (go to article)

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Vessel weighs anchor as oil dispute hangs in scales of justice

Fuel Fix -- An oil tanker anchored off the coast of Galveston since July amid an international legal dispute finally has sailed.

The United Kalavryta carried 1 million barrels of crude from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The Baghdad government considered the crude stolen property that had been smuggled out of the country.

As lawyers for Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government debated the fate of the crude in U.S. federal court maritime companies became skittish about becoming involved in the imbroglio and were unwilling to unload the crude for its unidentified buyer.

So the tanker and its cargo remained in international waters about 60 miles off Galveston. Since July the price of crude oil has fallen by more than half diminishing the value of the tanker’s cargo.

It now is headed...  (go to article)

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Ottawa faces deficit with low oil prices, budget watchdog says

Toronto Star -- Plunging oil prices will cost the federal government as much as $7.6B a year in lost revenue and could spell several more yrs of deficit budgets
In a report released Tue, the budget watchdog assessed the shock of dropping oil prices on the federal fiscal picture and said worst case, it would mean a deficit of $1.2B this year and a deficit of $400M in 2015-16, even after exhausting a $3B contingency fund
Officials with the parliamentary budget officer said that the government has enough wiggle room in its budget to show a surplus despite the oil price hit, allowing the Conservatives to keep their vow of a balanced budget
“There are many ways that the government can actually find some revenues or some savings on the spending side to make sure the balance is there  (go to article)

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He called $50 oil, now he says it’s going lower

MarketWatch -- Last November, when I was trying to figure out where oil prices were going, I spoke with Shawn Driscoll, manager of the T. Rowe Price New Era Fund PRNEX, +0.06% , a mutual fund that focuses on natural resource stocks.

Brent crude LCOH5, -1.33% was trading at $80 a barrel, and there was speculation that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would halt its slide by cutting production at its upcoming meeting, scheduled for Thanksgiving Day.
Driscoll was having none of it. Oil, gold, and other commodities, he told me, were in a secular bear market that could last another decade. He said oil would bottom out around $50 over the next 10 years.

Actually it took less than 10 weeks, as Brent traded under $48 a barrel on Monday. I usually don’t revisit columns or sources that quickly  (go to article)

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US ultra-low-sulfur diesel prices surge as blizzard boosts fuels demand

Bloomberg -- Diesel jumped to the highest in more than a week on concern that a blizzard from New York to Boston may increase fuel demand and disrupt deliveries.

Prices of ultra-low sulfur diesel, a proxy for heating oil, gained as much as 2.4% in New York. As much as 24 inches of snow may fall in New York, while Boston and eastern New England may see as much as 36 inches, the National Weather Service said.

“As the storm goes through the region, heating oil deliveries to the consumer are going to be shut down due to the road closures,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, an energy consulting firm in Houston, Texas. “There will be additional demand for diesel fuel to run emergency generators. One of the concerns is that this storm can impact refinery operation.”

Diesel futures climbed  (go to article)

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Pump Prices Break 123-Day Losing Streak With a Half-Penny Rise

Bloomberg -- Just when the U.S. was pennies away from reaching $2 a gallon at the pump, prices rebounded.

Retail gasoline in the U.S. climbed 0.5 cent yesterday to average $2.038 a gallon, keeping Americans from filling up on $2 fuel for the first time since March 2009, data compiled by the motoring club AAA said. The rise breaks an unprecedented 123-day streak of consecutive declines.

A combination of stabilizing oil prices and refinery upsets curbing fuel production have put an end to the slide in gasoline that the U.S. government has estimated will save the average household $750 this year. Prices have dropped by more than $1 a gallon in four months.

“With seasonal refinery maintenance around the corner, it was just a matter of time that you saw gasoline prices go up,”a spokesman for AAA, said by  (go to article)

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US crude oil settles up $1.08, at $46.23 a barrel

Reuters -- WTI crude rose more than 3 percent on Tuesday as a weaker dollar propped up commodities priced in the currency, prompting short-covering in a market that has sold off with little pause over the past seven months.

Even so, gains in oil were capped by fears of another large build in U.S. crude stocks, traders said.
 (go to article)

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Keystone Backers Predict Final U.S. Senate Passage by Weekend

Bloomberg -- The U.S. Senate is on track to pass legislation to approve TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of the week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

The Keystone legislation stalled in the Senate on Monday as Democrats raised objections about the number of amendments they’ve been allowed to offer.
 (go to article)

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Pay Attention! Your Car is Watching You

NBC News -- The next wave of technology designed to keep drivers from getting distracted or dozing off could soon be watching you behind the wheel.
Eye-monitoring systems are quickly becoming a focus for automakers and suppliers working on advanced driver assistance systems, known as ADAS.
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"If your eyes are looking away from the road, the vehicle will understand that you are paying attention to something else," said Nick Langdale-Smith, a vice president at Seeing Machines.  (go to article)

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Germany Set to Open Up Autobahn to Self-Driving Vehicles

NBC News -- MAINZ, Germany — Prototypes of driverless cars are set to get the go-ahead on a stretch of Germany's busy A9 autobahn.
For years, the country's car makers have been developing models with "autonomous driving" technology —passenger vehicles and trucks that can self-drive in cities and on highways without human interference.  (go to article)

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Should I buy an Acura TLX or just buy a loaded Honda Accord?

Consumer Reports via Yahoo! Autos -- What do you really get with an Acura TLX that you don’t get from a loaded version of its corporate cousin, the Honda Accord? To find out, we compared our four-cylinder TLX, which stickered at $35,920, with a $33,090 Accord EX-L V6. Both did well in our road tests, but the Accord finished with 84 points vs. the TLX’s 80.

In addition to costing about three grand less, the Accord’s 278-hp, 3.5-liter V6 has 72 more ponies than the TLX’s 206-hp four-cylinder.

The Accord is a full second quicker than the TLX to 60 mph. But with the TLX, you get a modern eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission, which has a more direct and sporty feel than the Accord’s conventional six-speed.  (go to article)

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New-generation solar panels far cheaper, more efficient

Yahoo! Tech -- A new generation of solar panels made from a mineral called perovskite has the potential to convert solar energy into household electricity more cheaply than ever before, according to a study from Briain's Exeter University.

Super-thin, custom-colored panels attached to a building's windows may become a "holy grail" for India and African countries, one of the authors of the study told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"In those countries these types of material will be like a holy grail: they can both shade windows ... and at the same time produce electricity," he said.

Unlike other solar panels, those made of perovskite can absorb most of the solar spectrum and work in various atmospheric conditions, rather than only in direct sunlight.  (go to article)

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US oil tycoons get even richer amid price collapse

CNBC -- Despite the precipitous fall in oil prices in recent months, the fortunes of many of America's top oil magnates have actually grown, according to Wealth-X's ranking of the wealthiest U.S. oil barons.
Topping the list, David and Charles Koch, whom each boast a net worth of almost $45 billion making them the richest oil tycoons in the U.S. and the world, saw their wealth grow by 7 percent since last June – when the oil rout began.
"Koch brothers' fortunes have actually grown due to the fact that their industrial conglomerate, Koch Industries, has a large, diversified investment portfolio with significant holdings in pipelines and refineries," said Wealth-X.
The price of oil has more than halved since mid-2014 amid feeble global demand compounded by strong supply growth.
Another major sh  (go to article)

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Bond king: Oil won't go back to $90 this year

CNN Money -- Don't buy all that talk about oil shooting back up to $90 a barrel. That's the message from bond king Jeffrey Gundlach.

"I bet a great deal of money that oil is not going to end the year at $90," Gundlach said at ETF.com's Inside ETF Conference.  (go to article)

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Uber says ride services reduce drunk driving

Reuters -- Uber, a ride service facing legal challenges around the world, on Tuesday released a survey showing that people are less likely to drive home after drinking alcohol after such businesses started operating in their cities.

The results of the survey, done with advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, were based on a December poll of 807 adults in the largest U.S. cities where Uber operates. They come as Uber tries to establish solid legal footing for its service.
 (go to article)

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Police chasing Waze to remove cop location feature

GasBuddy Blog -- Waze AppFor commuters and motorists across the country, the smartphone app Waze exists to save you time on your commute, notify you of hazards, and give you a heads up when police are spotted. It's the last feature I listed that has caught the ire of law enforcement officials, who want Google-owned Waze to remove spotter reports of police officers.

According to an Associated Press story, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck complained to Google's CEO in a December 30 letter that the information users send about police officers could be "misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community." I wonder what top brass at LAPD and other law enforcement organizations think about listing the addresses of their precincts and headquarters- since criminals could easily target dozens of officers instead of just one or two- as they do on their website, evident in the picture below.

Some organizations, like the Bedford County Sheriff Departme  (go to article)

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NEB urged to make Energy East meetings public

Canadian Press - HALIFAX -- Anti-pipeline group Stop Energy East Halifax said the invite-only meetings should be open to the public
About a dozen people staged a rally January 26 in Halifax as the board met with groups during closed-door meetings to discuss the project.Members held signs and a makeshift pipeline with the words “tar sands
Over the next week, NEB officials will meet with groups in the 4 Atlantic provinces to discuss how it can improve its pipeline safety and environmental protection programs
Board officials will meet with FN groups and property owners along the pipeline’s route will either be met with directly or will be represented by political leaders such as mayors
“We’re willing to meet with Canadians in their kitchens,” adding they have such a meeting in NB later this week, encouraged the pub  (go to article)

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BP will freeze pay for most of its employees

Fuel Fix / Houston Chronicle -- HOUSTON — Oil giant BP said it will freeze most of its employees pay in 2015, after a collapse in crude prices has left oil companies scrambling to cut costs.

The announcement came today in an internal message to employees, said BP spokesman Brett Clanton in an emailed statement
 (go to article)

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Private companies know where you've been, thanks to license plate cameras

Syracuse.com -- Companies that collect the data are operating in a virtual Wild West. There are almost no laws regulating who can collect license plate data and what can be done with it. In Syracuse, for instance, Destiny USA is collecting license plate data from the mall parking lots.  (go to article)

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Goldman Sachs’s Cohn Says Oil Prices May Hit $30 in Extended Slump

Bloomberg -- Oil prices will probably continue to decline and could reach as low as $30 a barrel, according to Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“We’re probably in the lower, longer view,” Cohn, a former oil trader, said Monday in an interview with CNBC.
 (go to article)

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Installation of ND pipeline that spilled 3 million gallons of saltwater had no state inspection

Fargo-Moorhead Forum -- State oversight of more than 20,000 miles of underground pipelines has been “very, very minimal” as it struggles to hire qualified inspectors, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Industrial Commission says.

New rules approved by the Industrial Commission that took effect last year govern small gathering pipelines such as the pipeline that spilled nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater near Williston this month, the state’s largest spill on record.

Meadowlark Midstream, a subsidiary of Summit Midstream Partners, learned of the rupture of a 4-inch pipeline on Jan. 6 and last week estimated the spill amount to be 70,000 barrels, or nearly 3 million gallons. Some of the produced water entered Blacktail Creek and eventually the Little Muddy River. Cleanup efforts are ongoing.

The installation  (go to article)

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