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Louisiana Attorney General Files Suit Against State Farm

John Rang | Leading Edge -- Suit alleges insurer has engaged in pattern of unfair and fraudulent business practices to control repair industry and force unsafe repairs without knowledge or consent of Louisiana consumers.

August 19, 2014: Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed a lawsuit Aug. 19 against State Farm alleging that the insurer has engaged in a pattern of unfair and fraudulent business practices aimed at controlling the auto repair industry and forcing unsafe repairs on vehicles without the knowledge or consent of Louisiana consumers.

“State Farm has created a culture of unsafe business practices in which consumer vehicle repairs are performed with cost-savings as the primary goal rather than safety and reliability,” said Caldwell.

The suit, filed in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court, all  (go to article)

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Labor Day travel predicted to climb this year

CBS News -- It's good news for the economy, but bad news for anyone hoping to avoid sitting in traffic during the upcoming holiday weekend.

Travel is projecting 34.7 million Americans will venture 50 miles or more from their homes during the Labor Day holiday travel period, from Thursday August 28 to Monday September 1. That would be the highest Labor Day holiday travel volume since 2008, when the recession began -- and a 1.3 percent increase compared to the same time period last year.

The report says car travel over the holiday will rise by 1.4 percent, compared to last year's holiday weekend -- with nearly 30 million people expected to be on the road. Nearly eight percent of travelers, around 2.65 million passengers, will go by air. That's a one percent increase over 2013's figures, and comes  (go to article)

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Tire makers race to turn dandelions into rubber

Reuters via Yahoo -- MUENSTER Germany (Reuters) - Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport.

The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires.

"People just think of it as a horrible weed and ask how can you get enough material for tires from just a small root," she said.  (go to article)

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The futuristic vision that's driven Tesla's value above $30 billion

Yahoo -- The stock is up an astonishing 770% over the past two years, to a price above $257. And yet skeptics keep gunning for Tesla, with bets by short sellers that the stock will fall now accounting for more than 25% of Tesla’s available shares.
While some dismiss the market’s enthusiasm as irrational boosterism and bubbly momentum, the company’s knack for exceeding expectations, ecstatic consumer response and rapid expansion in production capacity are winning the benefit of the doubt, even from veteran car-industry analysts.
Gilad Shany, an analyst at big Tesla shareholder Baron Funds, calls the company a “once in a lifetime disruptor of the car industry,” and says that selling half a million cars in 2020 will translate into $25 billion in sales and $5 billion in profit – the latter estimate r  (go to article)

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Leaked window stickers suggest a thirstier 2015 Ford Mustang as weight creeps up

Automotive News -- DETROIT -- Adding independent rear suspension, numerous electronic safety features and other items raised the weight and lowered the fuel economy of several models of the rebuilt 2015 Ford Mustang, according to window stickers leaked on the Internet today.

Ford officials would not confirm the authenticity of the EPA numbers, which can be seen here: http://www.mustang6g.com/. [...]
 (go to article)

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Pipeline changes will send more Canadian oil into Minnesota

StarTribune -- More Canadian crude oil soon will be flowing into Minnesota in an expanded pipeline that is still undergoing environmental review.

Enbridge Energy is spending $200 million in Minnesota to add pumps and boost the capacity of its 1,000-mile Alberta Clipper pipeline. But the company says a yearlong delay in a U.S. State Department environment review has held up a presidential permit to ship more oil across the U.S. border.

In a move that surprised and angered climate activists who oppose the project, the Calgary-based pipeline company has found a way to legally circumvent the permit. Enbridge says it will temporarily switch the flow of two parallel pipelines on a 17.5-mile segment across the Canadian-United States border, maximizing the flows under existing permits.  (go to article)

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Motorist caught in alleged HPD ticket-rigging scheme

KHOU.com -- HOUSTON -- On a Tuesday afternoon in March, Houston Police wrote up a Houston motorist for speeding in Northwest Houston. But he wasn't your everyday kind of driver.

"I've been behind the radar gun," said the man.

He asked not to identified, because he too, is a police officer. We'll refer to him as Jerry.

And when HPD handed Jerry the ticket, there was a major red flag.

"I immediately know that something's hinky with the ticket," Jerry said.

That's because the ticket-writing officer listed another HPD officer as a witness.

"There was no other officer, he was the only officer there," Jerry said.  (go to article)

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Ford tells dealers to halt some C-Max, Focus sales

Reuters -- Ford Motor has told its U.S. dealers to stop test-driving and selling a small number of recently made C-Max and Focus models because of potential problems with the steering gear assembly, a notice sent to dealers on Wednesday shows.  (go to article)

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Imposed Gas Tax Affecting the Trucking Industry

Digital Journal --
Bipartisan bill could raise the Federal Gas Tax by 12 cents over the next two years

Tuscaloosa, AL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/20/2014 -- Recently, Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would raise the Federal Gas Tax by 12 cents over the next two years. This would raise the prices at the gas pump, however many see it as a more equitable way to fix the nation's transportation problems. The money raised would be used to repair and replace aging, obsolete infrastructure, as well as replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

This could benefit certain areas of the country, especially the Northeast, which sees the highest road use in the country and a harsh winter climate that destroys the asphalt each winter...  (go to article)

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Flying in the Mercedes-Benz helicopter, for the ultimate commuter

Motoramic -- Extensions are not just for highways, electrical cords, and hair anymore; now they’re also for luxury automotive brands. When a consumer identifies with a high-end marque, one way to deepen this connection — and enhance precious loyalty — is to provide opportunities to engage with the brand in other aspects of their life aside from road rage and commuting. Mercedes-Benz has recently attempted to do this with a new offshoot, Mercedes-Benz Style, which is charged, according to Project and Design Manager Stefano Tam, with “Creating new, non-automotive design collaborations with other manufacturers who are on the same level as Mercedes-Benz.”  (go to article)

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U.S. DOT maintains V2V technology initiative

GasBuddy Blog -- The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and a supporting comprehensive research report on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology.The report will include analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas, including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits, while the ANPRM seeks public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices to be installed in new light vehicles.The report includes preliminary estimates of safety benefits that show two safety applications, Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA), could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year. The report says that by providing advance warning, V2V technology could help drivers avoid more than half of these types of crashes that  (go to article)

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Audi rethinks the piston engine

Fox News -- Audi’s engine of the future may be a little off-kilter.

Autocar reports that the automaker is working on a unique four-cylinder motor that features a bank of pistons sitting offset and parallel to the crankshaft rather than directly above it.

 (go to article)

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New Volvo Garbage Truck Uses Only CNG

Gas 2 -- Natural gas vehicles represent a potential stepping stone to a cleaner, greener transportation system, though many consumers are wary of a lack of CNG stations and less power. Volvo hopes to solve both with its latest CNG garbage truck, which uses a new kind of CNG engine developed specifically with urban driving and repeated stops and starts in mind.

The Volvo FE CNG garbage truck has an all-new, 9-liter (!!) engine pumping out 320 horsepower and 1,000 ft-lbs of torque that runs solely on CNG. At the core of the engine’s design is new spark plug technology developed specifically for the jerky stop-start driving cycles garbage trucks endure. By switching from diesel to CNG gas (or methane as its also called), Volvo says that carbon emissions are reduced by up to 70%. Even so, Volvo stil  (go to article)

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Honda Fit re-test yields top safety score

USA Today -- Honda says its 2015 Fit small car earned a high safety score from an insurance trade group but only after the automaker redesigned the front bumper and paid for a re-test.

A new list of crash-test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the 2015 Fit a Top Safety Pick rating, which for years had been the best, and now is second to the Top Safety Pick + rating that requires anti-crash technology mainly found on larger and more expensive cars.

Fit is classed a mini-car by IIHS, along with the likes of the Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Spark.

Fit's new high score is the result of a second test, after Honda engineers redesigned the car's front bumper structure.  (go to article)

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Honda to modify Fit to boost test score, calls back 12,000 cars

Reuters -- (Reuters) - The first 12,000 U.S. customers who bought the 2015 Honda Fit subcompact cars will be asked to have the vehicles retrofitted to attain top marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and the IIHS said Thursday.

The action - which is not a safety recall aligned with U.S. safety regulators - is aimed at allowing all 2015 Fit cars to have the same, more robust front bumpers as cars made after June 9, when Honda changed the way they were produced, Chuck Thomas, chief engineer for vehicle safety at American Honda, said.

Honda said it would inform the affected 12,000 Fit owners late in September to bring the cars to dealers for the retrofit.  (go to article)

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2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Gas Mileage: 26 MPG Combined: UPDATE

Green Car Reports -- The 2015 Ford Mustang has attracted plenty of attention for its 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine--and not all of it positive.

Fans of chest-thumping V-8s may scoff at such a downsized engine, but everyone else will likely want to know how efficient it is.

While not strictly for fuel efficiency, the EcoBoost makes for less-inefficient performance.

Now, there are some gas-mileage numbers to supplement the speculation.

A rating of 26 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) was released for the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.

This fuel-economy data comes from a leaked 2015 Mustang window sticker posted on enthusiast site Mustang 6G.

The leak did not include ratings for the six-speed automatic EcoBoost, but it also  (go to article)

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Brent Drops on China; WTI Spread Near Widest Since June

Bloomberg News -- Brent crude fell with West Texas Intermediate as a measure of Chinese manufacturing missed estimates. The spread between the grades was near the widest in two months after stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, surged the most since October.

Futures declined as much as 1 percent in London and New York. A preliminary Chinese Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics slid to 50.3 for August. A median 51.5 was projected in a Bloomberg News survey. Crude inventories at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI, rose 1.755 million barrels in the seven days ended Aug. 15 to 20.155 million, the Energy Information Administration said in a report yesterday.
 (go to article)

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Less pain at the Gas Pump Eases Market Pain

USA Today -- Pain at the pump this summer was supposed to cause major pain in the stock market. But gas prices headed south instead, siphoning risk out of the market.

Since the start of summer on June 21, the average national price for a gallon of regular gas has fallen from $3.68 a gallon to $3.44, according Bespoke Investment Group. That 24 cent-per-gallon drop equates to a 6.5% decline.

Wall Street was expecting prices at the pump to skyrocket, given the peak summer driving season and global hot spots critical to oil supplies,  (go to article)

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Oil well battle moves to suburbs

Detroit News -- Shelby Township officials are scrambling to halt oil drilling near a residential area, something other Southeast Michigan communities haven’t succeeded in doing.

West Bay Exploration, a Traverse City drilling company, will begin operating a test well this week in an area roughly 500 feet from the closest homes. In response, township trustees approved Tuesday a six-month moratorium on oil drilling in the township — a move designed to buy time for local leaders to consider their options in opposing the operation.

Several West Bay projects have faced opposition in areas such as Rochester Hills and Scio Township. But planning and zoning officials around Michigan often have found they can do little to stop the drilling “unless very serious consequences would result from the extraction of thos  (go to article)

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Subaru Revs Up Tech & Safety Features on Legacy & Outback

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..carscoops.comSubaru is now arming its two hottest-selling models, the Legacy and Outback, with an impressive array of safety features at tantalizing prices. For $1,200, drivers can add adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and pre-collision braking, the LA Times reports.
Those features, which together give a glimpse into the future of self-driving cars, can cost thousands more on luxury cars. The smart packaging should further aid Subaru's bid to sustain recent sales gains. Once a niche maker of oddball vehicles, Subaru now outsells Volkswagen and is gaining ground on the major Asian brands.In the last five years, Subaru has almost doubled its sales in the U.S., and it's done so while offering far fewer dealer incentives than most automakers, according to Edmunds.com. Sales are up 16% for the first six months of 2014....  (go to article)

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Turning natural gas to gasoline — at $1 per gallon

SFGate -- Bay Area startup Siluria Technologies has developed a way to make gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from natural gas — not crude oil.

And the oil industry has noticed.Today, the 6-old-company will announce that its latest $30 million financing round was led by Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company.

“Their business isn’t just oil,” said Ed Dineen, Siluria’s chief executive officer. “It’s oil and gas and petrochemicals and power. And when they look across that spectrum, they have a strong interest in increasing the value of their gas. This will allow them to do that.”

Aramco has also put together a team studying ways to deploy the technology in Saudi Arabia. Based in San Francisco, Siluria has now raised $99 million from such investors as Bright Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Bye  (go to article)

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Transparent solar panels may be a window into the future

Tech Times -- Clean solar power may be the future of energy. Transparent solar panels that seem just like normal glass may make that future real.

Researchers at Michigan State University have created a solar panel that resembles typical glass, which can be placed on top of a window to collect solar energy, while still providing an unobstructed view.

Called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator, the panel uses organic molecules made to absorb invisible wavelengths of light, such as ultraviolet and near infrared light. The material moves this unseen light to the edges of the panel, where strips of photovoltaic solar cells pick it up and convert it to electricity.

There have been past attempts at similar tech, but the results that have been produced were not transparent enough or were tinted.
 (go to article)

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PG&E CEO Anthony Earley says utility won't be bankrupted by fines from pipeline explosion

San Jose Mercury News -- SAN JOSE -- PG&E believes it can withstand expected fines of up to $3.6 billion resulting from the fatal 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno without having to file for bankruptcy, the utility's top executive said Wednesday.

PG&E Chief Executive Officer Anthony Earley, in a wide-ranging interview with the editorial board of this newspaper, also said the utility was surprised by a charge of obstruction of justice in its most recent federal criminal indictment, and asserted that PG&E is making good progress on efforts to upgrade its natural gas system.
 (go to article)

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This Billionaire Is Betting on America’s Auto-Debt Addiction

Wall St. Cheat Sheet -- America’s fascination with cars and debt does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Due to either affordability issues or rising confidence, recent reports reveal that drivers are filling up on auto loans at a record pace. While some investors may doubt how much longer this trend will continue, at least one hedge-fund billionaire placed a major bet on the financing industry.

Daniel Loeb, founder and chief executive officer of Third Point, took a new position in Ally Financial during the second quarter, according a new 13-F filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Founded in 1919, Ally is one of the largest providers of automotive financing in the United States, serving the financial needs of approximately 16,000 dealers and 4 million retail customers. The company...  (go to article)

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Two car companies that pay for their ‘green halo’ with truck profits

The Globe and Mail -- Toyota has a truck problem, one borne of the staggering success as the greenest of auto makers

Interbrand rates Toyota as the world’s No.2 “green” brand, behind Ford and ahead of Honda

Toyota’s green image has much to do with the Prius, with more than 6 millions sold over the past 17 yrs

Then there is Toyota’s extensive hybrid lineup and the thriftiness of its smallest cars – the Corolla (history’s best-selling car) and the Yaris

Here’s the “green” problem: the company continues to ride its truck lineup to record earnings. Toyota Canada recorded a 3rd straight record month for truck sales. Toyota truck sales in the U.S. also hummed along nicely

Surging truck sales spurred Toyota to massive profits during the recent Q2: $5.7B vs $4.4B for VW, more than GM, Nissan and Honda combined  (go to article)

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Infinite mile warranty for Tesla Model S

AutoExpress -- Tesla increases Model S 85kWh drive unit warranty to match its battery pack’s infinite mile guarantee

The Tesla Model S in its best-selling 85kWh guise now has an eight year, infinite mile drive unit warranty, brining it into line with the American electric vehicle manufacturer’s battery pack guarantee.

There’s no limit on the number of owners covered by the warranty period and, in a move sure to please existing customers, the extension will apply retroactively to every Model S built since the luxury five-door saloon’s 2012 launch.

The policy change is designed to reflect Tesla’s faith in electric motors, which co-founder and CEO Elon Musk described on the company website as “fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines”.
 (go to article)

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Mother Of Five Has Stolen Car Returned After Texting Thief

AOL Autos -- Van was returned with fresh transmission fluid

A mother of five in Missouri couldn't believe her luck when her stolen van was returned last week after she pleaded with the thief via text.

Megan Bratten came out of a K-Mart store in Independence, Missouri to find an empty parking spot where her van had been sitting. Bratten, who supports her five kids on her own, used that van for work. She thought seeing the van ever again was hopeless, until she remembered the cell phone that was inside the vehicle when it was stolen. She decided to text it.

"I used some pretty explicit words and I said 'Hey, you just stole a single mother of five's work van. You are ruining my life here,'" Bratten told KCTV 5.

Her anger turned to desperation, and she pleaded for the return of her vehicle.  (go to article)

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Solar Energy Less Dangerous to Birds Than Cats or Cars

Bloomberg News -- Solar-thermal power plants in the U.S. are less likely to kill birds than cars, cats or mobile-phone towers, despite reports that say the facilities pose a significant threat to avian life.

There were 321 “avian fatalities” in the first half of this year at the 392-megawatt Ivanpah solar project in Southern California, according to a statement yesterday from NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), which co-owns and operates it. Of those, 133 were scorched by heat produced by the plant.

That’s far fewer than reported in an Associated Press article on Aug. 18. It cited federal wildlife investigators who estimated that one bird was burned every two minutes by concentrated sunlight at the Mojave Desert power plant. [...]

A greater risk comes from cats, which are estimated to kill hundreds of millions ...  (go to article)

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Phase One of Lincoln’s natural gas pipeline installation nearly finished

Bangor Daily News -- LINCOLN, Maine – Traffic along the often-congested West Broadway should return to normal in about two weeks, when pavers and pipeline installers finish Phase One of a $7.5 million natural gas installation in early September, officials said Wednesday.

Nearly a mile of the 3½-mile pipe installation through Lincoln remains to be finished, with paving over the new pipelines to follow, said Doug McDougal, project manager for Sullivan and Merritt Constructors Inc.

Two pipelines are being installed. One is a steel, high-pressure line that will deliver natural gas from the pipeline connection near Interstate 95 to Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC and a natural gas substation near the paper manufacturer. The other is a 4-inch plastic line that will deliver lower-pressure gas to the businesses and res  (go to article)

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McLaren’s $3.3M Hypercar Comes With Two Years of Training for Wannabe Racers

Wired -- The $1.15 million McLaren P1 hypercar is one of the best cars ever built. It ran Germany’s famed Nurburgring Nordschleiffe in less than seven minutes. It’s got 903 horsepower, it hits 60 mph in under 3 seconds and it’s drop-dead gorgeous. Oh, and it also gets 31 mpg.

But even that is not enough for some of the 375 people dropping the cash to buy a P1. For them, McLaren offers the P1 GTR, a track-dedicated version with more power that it unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. More is never cheaper, especially in the hypercar realm, and the P1 GTR is priced accordingly: £1.98 million, or $3.29 million.

For all that, though, the big spenders—who must already own a P1 to be eligible—get more than a car. They get an experience.  (go to article)

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Oil-Export Ban: Holding America Back

Forbes -- “Without compelling reasons for continuing to restrict crude exports, and given the potential benefits, Congress should liberalize the crude oil export regime. Republicans and Democrats alike, including President Obama, express support for boosting U.S. exports in general. Crude oil should be no exception.”

- Blake Clayton, “The Case for Allowing U.S. Crude Oil Exports,” Council on Foreign Relations, Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 34, July 2013.

“Because relatively free trade in petroleum products is allowed, the crude oil ban introduces artificial bottlenecks in the refining sector that paradoxically drive up the world (and hence U.S.) price of gasoline…. Ironically, the very people supposedly helped by the export ban—American motorists—are among those hurt by it.”  (go to article)

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The Feds Want Cars to Chat Instead of Just Watching Each Other

Wired -- Every year, we see cars get smarter and more capable of driving themselves. Even some down-market models are now loaded with cameras and radars so they can watch the road for themselves. That allows them to do things like stay in their line on the highway, maintain a safe distance from other cars while in cruise control, and warn the driver when he’s about to get into an accident—or even apply the brakes automatically.

Federal regulators have been in favor of these systems, even requiring that all new cars have rearview cameras by 2018. But a new report shows they would like to see the automakers go further, by allowing cars not just to detect one another, but to communicate.  (go to article)

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EIA to cast new data into oil export debate

fuelfix -- WASHINGTON — The U.S. Energy Information Administration is on track next month to issue two highly anticipated reports that will shape the debate over exporting crude, including an analysis of how the price of oil around the globe affects gasoline costs inside the United States.  (go to article)

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How tech giants are going to take over your car

CNBC -- Is this an Apple or an Android car? That may be the question you find yourself asking in the not so distant future.

Just like Apple and Google continue to battle for market share in the smartphone and tablet space, they are also going to be increasingly fighting for dominance in the auto space, experts say.
 (go to article)

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Blinded by the glare of green energy — a threat to over 40 million airplane passengers

The Washington Times -- Thanks to a $1.6 billion green energy loan from the feds, pilots are being blinded by glare as they fly over the Mojave Desert. It’s a safety hazard that affects over 40 million airplane passengers a year.

The culprit is the Ivanpah solar energy project, with more than 300,000 giant mirrors spread over 5 square miles of public land provided to BrightSource/NRG Energy. The $1.6 billion loan is only part of $5.2 billion extended to the company by the Obama administration — 10 times what taxpayers lost from loans to the failed Solyndra fiasco.

Since Ivanpah went online in December, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued warnings to pilots of commercial and private aircraft who fly in and out of Las Vegas and destinations in Southern California. They’re told to be aware of this dange  (go to article)

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Lower Gas Prices

Fox News -- Drivers across the country are catching a break when it comes to filling up, and gas prices are likely to continue to fall—all the way through winter.

“Right now, we are witnessing prices at the pump more representative of mid-July prices than end of driving season,” says Patrick Dehann, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the national average for a gallon of unleaded gas is currently $3.44 compared to $3.54 at the same time a year ago.  (go to article)

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Oil zooms higher, pulls off multi-month lows after US inventories

CNBC --

U.S. crude oil rose in choppy trading on Wednesday ahead of the September contract's expiration and after government data showed crude stocks in the United States fell sharply last week.

U.S. crude stocks slid by 4.5 million barrels last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, more than analysts had expected. Stocks in Cushing, Oklahoma—the delivery point for the U.S. crude contract—rose by 1.76 million barrels. Gasoline stocks rose 585,000 barrels against expectations for a drop while distillate stocks fell 960,000 barrels, slightly more than forecast.

Brent crude for October delivery was up 50 cents near $102 a barrel. The contract touched $101.07 on Tuesday, its lowest since June 26, 2013.  (go to article)

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Oil ‘super spike’ is coming: Dan Dicker

Yahoo Finance -- Another bad day for traders bullish on energy as WTI crude oil slid 2%, hitting its lowest level since January. Across the pond Brent crude traded at its lowest level in almost 14th months.

From the heady days of mid-2008 when it traded at nearly $150 a barrel, crude oil has had quite a rocky ride. After sliding down to the $30s and rallying back around $120, crude has settled in around the $90 to $110 range for the past two years.

Commodity traders and analysts have wondered why oil hasn’t gone higher. Geopolitical tensions abound across the world; the Middle East seemingly hasn’t been this unstable in years.

In fact, some believe the commodity could actually go lower. Blake Morrow posits that with North American production rising, vehicles becoming more efficient, and crude oil’s inab  (go to article)

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Exclusive: Ford plans new hybrid series to compete with Toyota Prius - sources

Reuters Via Yahoo News -- Ford Motor Co plans to introduce a new hybrid gasoline-electric car in late 2018 to compete against the best-selling Toyota Prius, two sources with knowledge of the company's plans told Reuters on Wednesday.

The compact car will be Ford's first "dedicated" hybrid - that is a vehicle designed to be marketed exclusively as a hybrid, rather than a variation of an existing gasoline model, such as the automaker's Fusion hybrid, the sources said. The as-yet-unnamed vehicle will be built just outside Detroit, .

The sources said Ford eventually could offer several different body styles of the new hybrid, as Toyota does with the Prius. There would be different versions of the car's gasoline-electric drivetrain, including a more expensive plug-in model ...  (go to article)

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Forward Progress: 14 Most Improved Cars of 2014

CarandDriver.com -- To us, “Most Improved” brings to mind the awards given out to mediocre students, the ones who managed to claw their way from near-failure to, well, just slightly above near-failure. Sure, the kid with straight A’s was given an Outstanding Achievement award, but everyone has to win something these days, right? In the car world, though, “most improved” means something a little different. Most of the 14 cars on our list were good in their previous iterations, but have nevertheless made massive advances in their newest forms. Perhaps most significantly, these cars show that automakers really do listen to criticism from the media and customers alike. (You’ll see some 2015 models on our list, but they’re on sale now or will be imminently.) Without further ado, the 14 most improved cars of 2014:  (go to article)

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The only time a driver doesn't have to pay a parking ticket

Yahoo Finance -- Do I really have to pay that parking ticket?

Before you throw that $30 ticket in the glove compartment, we’ll tell you if you should pay it, fight it or just toss it  (go to article)

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Oil Prices Slide Even as Tankers Are Left Out of the LOOP

The Wall Street Journal -- The nation’s largest offshore oil terminal has been closed for a week, but you’d never know it from looking at U.S. oil prices.

Tankers have been unable to unload at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port since Aug. 13. The port is repairing a pipeline and expects to reopen between Thursday and Saturday, said spokesman Terry Coleman.
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Iraqi Kurds, Turkey to Double Oil Export Pipeline Capacity

Bloomberg News -- The Kurdish regional government in Iraq and Turkey are working to at least double the capacity of a pipeline that allows the Kurds to export crude oil, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and an industry official said.

A second pump has been installed near Fishkabur in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region to speed up the injection of Kurdish oil into the main Iraq-Turkey pipeline, according to the industry official with knowledge of the work who asked not to be named, citing policy. Turkey is also upgrading the part of the pipe that runs to its Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan, he said today in an interview

The added pumping strength “would double the flow of oil from 100,000 to 125,000 barrels per day in the first stage,” Yildiz said in an interview in Ankara. “It would be good if the da  (go to article)

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WTI Oil Rises First Time in 3 Days on Inventory Drawdown

Bloomberg News -- West Texas Intermediate crude rose for the first time in three days as U.S. inventories declined more than expected last week.

Stockpiles decreased by 4.47 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 15, the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, said in a weekly report. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a drop of 1.75 million. The refinery utilization rate rose for the first time in five weeks.

“This was well in excess of what folks thought the draw would be,” said Adam Wise, who helps run a $6 billion oil and gas bond portfolio as a managing director at John Hancock in Boston. “Refinery activity was up pretty significantly, which increased crude demand and prices are responding appropriately.”

The more actively-traded October WTI futures gaine  (go to article)

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Texas Now Ranks Among World's Top Oil Producers

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..forbes.comOne of the welcome results of the U.S. energy boom is that light, sweet crude from places previously untapped becomes increasingly available and its presence can drive discounts on the nation’s benchmark crude, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), depending on where it’s going.
Texas makes that happen. On August 6th, Tom Kloza, GasBuddy’s chief petroleum analyst, reported that “the discounted WTI comes in the Permian Basin where the West Texas Intermediate crude near Midland sold numerous times for double-digit discounts off the NYMEX.” More significant than the current discounts is the willingness of producers to offer wide discounts through the next 85 days or so. He noted that numerous deals for Midland-based WTI concluded at prices below the NYMEX October futures quotes.  That’s good news for U.S. consumers....  (go to article)

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Oil ‘super spike’ is coming

Yahoo Finance -- Another bad day for traders bullish on energy as WTI crude oil slid 2%, hitting its lowest level since January. Across the pond Brent crude traded at its lowest level in almost 14th months.

From the heady days of mid-2008 when it traded at nearly $150 a barrel, crude oil has had quite a rocky ride. After sliding down to the $30s and rallying back around $120, crude has settled in around the $90 to $110 range for the past two years.

Commodity traders and analysts have wondered why oil hasn’t gone higher. Geopolitical tensions abound across the world; the Middle East seemingly hasn’t been this unstable in years.

In fact, some believe the commodity could actually go lower. Blake Morrow posits that with North American production rising, vehicles becoming more efficient, and crude oil’s inab  (go to article)

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Was a Recalled Car Fixed? Answer Is Now a Click Away

New York Times -- A new online search tool allows consumers to type in a vehicle identification number, or VIN, to check on whether recall repairs have been completed on a specific car, truck or motorcycle. The service, which began Wednesday, is available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website or the sites of individual automakers.

The free search tool lets consumers quickly learn whether a vehicle they are considering for purchase has a safety problem that has not been addressed. Recalled vehicles can be repaired without charge at franchised dealers.

This is the first time consumers will be able to use a VIN on the safety agency’s site to determine whether a recall issue has been addressed on a particular car. The service will also be available on N.H.T.S.A.'s Safercar app ...  (go to article)

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Injection Well Earthquakes Feel Weaker Than Natural Ones, New Study Suggests

StateImpact Oklahoma -- While a growing chorus of scientific research has linked Oklahoma’s recent spike in earthquake activity to oil and gas industry disposal wells, a new study suggests such artificial earthquakes are less intense than naturally occurring temblors.

The peer-reviewed paper appears in the October 2014 edition of the Bulletin of the
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Researchers Hack Into Michigan’s Traffic Lights

MIT-Security flaws in a system of networked stoplights point to looming problems -- Ever get lucky enough to hit three or four green lights in a row on your way home from work? It turns out it might not be so hard to make that happen all the time.

With permission from a local road agency, researchers in Michigan hacked into nearly 100 wirelessly networked traffic lights, highlighting security issues that they say are likely to pervade networked traffic infrastructure around the country. More than 40 states currently use such systems to keep traffic flowing as efficiently as possible, helping to reduce emissions and delays.

The team, led by University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman, found three major weaknesses in the traffic light system: unencrypted wireless connections, the use of default usernames and passwords that could be found online, and a...  (go to article)

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Hawthorne mayor wants cops to wear cameras

ABC news -- Hawthorne Mayor Chris Brown is calling for all police officers to wear cameras, saying it's time to take action to protect the people of his city.

The move comes following the controversial police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

"In light of recent events, it is clear the safety of our civilians and uniformed officers is not guaranteed," Brown said in a statement posted on Twitter. "I am simply not willing to gamble with a single life, or the wrongful accusation of upstanding officers."

This is still only a proposal, but Brown says he wants to do everything possible to make sure all uniformed police officers will be equipped with body cameras.

In Hawthorne, motorcycle traffic officers are already equipped with a helmet-mounted cameras that provide an officer  (go to article)

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EIA: Crude inventories see hefty drop, gasoline inventories rise

GasBuddy Blog -- The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States today. 
Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories decreased by 4.5 million barrels to a total of 362.5 million barrels. At 362.5 million barrels, inventories are 3.5 million barrels above last year (1.0%) and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories increased by 0.6 million barrels to 213.3 million barrels. At 213.3 million barrels, inventories are down 5.1 million barrels, or 2.3% lower than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (+0.6mb); Midwest (-0.4mb); Gulf Coast (+0.2mb); Rockies (+0.0mb); and West Coast (+0.1mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the cas  (go to article)

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