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The year’s 10 ugliest new cars

Market Watch -- CarInsurance.com ranked the top 10 ugliest new cars of 2014. The online outfit enlisted 2,000 people to vote, and rank them from one to 10. Now, we think that’s a completely mean-spirited take on the year’s cars, especially without suggesting some better-looking options in the same class. Autoweek editors break the list down, one by one, with more attractive alternatives.  (go to article)

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Oil surges 5 percent as bears take profits, seeing $60 floor

Reuters/Pius Erlangga -- (Reuters) - Oil closed up as much as 5 percent on Friday, its biggest gain in over two years, as some traders took profits on short positions after prices this week hit their lowest since 2009.

A sharp bout of short-covering prior to expiry of the U.S. January crude oil contract alleviated pressure in a market dominated by sellers the past six months and lighter-than-usual pre-holiday volume exaggerated the rise on a day that otherwise lacked much in the way of headline news.

While some traders may be betting that $60 a barrel Brent represents a likely floor for the market, others remain unconvinced. With uncertainty high, demand for options has surged this week, with the CBOE crude oil volatility index soaring to its highest since 2011.  (go to article)

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NHTSA promotes 'SaferRide' mobile app to reduce drunk driving

GasBuddy Blog -- With the holidays approaching and festivities and office parties filling our calendars, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has kicked off its annual   “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday crackdown on drunk driving with a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home. “We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said NHTSA's Anthony Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”NHTSA’s new SaferRide app will help keep drunk drivers off our roads by allowing users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available now for Android devices on Google Play. ...  (go to article)

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Transparent Car Concept Lets Drivers See Through Doors (video)

Geeky Gadgets -- Invisibility cloaks and invisible cars may still be a little way off using current technology, but students Susumu Tachi and Masahiko Inami of the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University, have created something just as awesome a transparent car.  (go to article)

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Wind farm operator fined $2.5 million related to bird deaths in Wyoming

CTV News -- Wind farm operator PacifiCorp Energy will pay $2.5 million in fines after pleading guilty Friday to charges related to the deaths of protected birds in Wyoming.
The subsidiary of Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to two counts of violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act under a plea deal with prosecutors.
The U.S. Justice Department said the charges stemmed from the discovery of more than 370 dead birds at the company's Seven Mile Hill and Glenrock/Rolling Hills wind projects in Carbon and Converse counties from 2009 until now. Authorities counted 38 dead golden eagles and 336 other dead protected birds, including hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows.

It's the second prosecution of a wind energy company for harming or killing...  (go to article)

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Tesla Launching Battery Swap Pilot Program

Car and Driver.com -- Tesla’s long-promised battery-swap technology, making charging up as quick as filling your gas tank, is finally here. The company announced today that the first swapping station will open next week for public testing—offering a three-minute swap to a fully charged battery for a few Tesla drivers.

Ahead of today’s official announcement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to tease the development. Pack swap now operating in limited beta mode for SF to LA route. Can swap battery faster than visiting a gas station. Tesla blog out soon.

The first battery-swapping test facility is located in Harris Ranch, California, adjacent to a Supercharger station and about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Beginning next week, invited Model S owners will get the chance to try the battery-sw  (go to article)

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How oil’s decline could spatter North Dakota

FuelFix.com-Houston Chronicle -- The abrupt decline in oil prices stands to be bad news in North Dakota, a state that has reaped billions in tax revenue as new drilling techniques made it the second-leading producer in the U.S. behind Texas. But a lot of factors will determine how great that impact is.

PRICE TRIGGERS

North Dakota’s petroleum industry could see a big tax cut if crude continues to slide, and if that happens, it means the state will be missing out on billions of dollars. One of the state’s two taxes on wells is a 6.5 percent extraction tax. A state law forgives that tax if the five-month average price of a barrel of oil slips below a “trigger” price. Legislators first endorsed the concept in the mid-1980s, during a time of depressed oil prices.

The current trigger is $52.58 a barrel based on prices for...  (go to article)

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Motiva Still Planning Hydrocracker Expansion at Texas Refiner

Reuters -- Motiva Enterprises is still seeking a permit to expand a hydrocracker and diesel hydrotreater unit at its Texas refinery, just with a different agency, the company said on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Motiva withdrew a permit application submitted to the EPA in August to expand the unit at its 600,250 barrels/day refinery in Port Arthur, the largest in the United States.

On Wednesday the company declined to say why the application was withdrawn or whether the project was still under consideration. On Thursday Royal Dutch Shell, which operates the refinery it jointly owns with Saudi Aramco, said the permit request remains pending with the Texas Department of Environmental Quality, which has assumed greenhouse gas permitting authority.

"The jurisdictional authority for this permitting w  (go to article)

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U.S. Motorists Set October Driving Record As Pump Prices Tumble

Reuters -- Motorists took to U.S. roads and highways in record numbers in October, fueling the fastest rise in miles driven since 2006, according to data released on Friday by the Federal Highway Administration.

Drivers logged 264.2 billion vehicle miles in October, the most ever for that month and a 2.6 percent increase over October 2013, according to the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The data adds to signs the steep tumble in U.S. gasoline prices, coupled with a growing economy, is spurring a rapid pick-up in U.S. fuel demand.

At the current pace, 2014 will rank among the top three busiest years on U.S. roads and highways, following only 2004 and 2005. U.S. pump prices fell from around $3.80 a gallon this summer to around $3.20 in October, according to U.S. Energy Informat  (go to article)

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Plunging oil prices prompt analyst to cut railway profit forecasts

The Globe and Mail -- Expectations for lower crude-by-rail volumes amid plunging oil prices have prompted one analyst to cut the profit forecasts for the 6 major North American railways

Profit growth should remain strong in the rail sector, including CP and CN, with “slight reductions” to earnings targets for 2015 and 2016

“Given the sharp decline in oil prices, we have moderated our assumed growth in crude by rail across the rail sector,” said in a research

CP expects to haul 200,000 carloads of oil in 2015, from about 125,000 in 2014, and that the plunge in oil prices will not change that

Chamoun's revised forecast for CP Rail assumes 161,000 crude carloads in 2015, modest growth in 2016 and flat volume afterwards

CP’s Q3 report shows it gets about 7% of its revenue from moving oil, drill pipes and sand  (go to article)

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Gas prices dip below $2 a gallon in central Ohio

Columbus Dispatch -- Columbus has joined the $2-gasoline party.

Early this evening, about 10 stations were selling regular unleaded for $1.99, the first time this has happened, other than a few outliers, since 2009. One was even selling gas for $1.98 a gallon.

At one of those stations, M&S Carryout on the West Side, there was a line of cars. Co-owner Chad Rasul said he hired a security guard to help direct traffic.

He said he was considering increasing the price to help reduce the glut of traffic, but he doesn’t expect any large increase.

“Watching the markets, I don’t see a reason why it would go up anytime soon,” he said.

The drop to less than $2 is part of a dramatic plunge in prices since Thursday, said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.  (go to article)

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Low oil prices threatening fracking industry

CBS News -- MISSISSIPPI -- Max Lawson says things started to change in Mississippi's Amite County three years ago, when the oil companies showed up. Before their arrival, Lawson described the county as "poor" and "rural."

Now he has a well on his land pumping oil that brings him $1,500 to $2,000 a month in royalties. He told me it was a good day for his family when the equipment started appearing on his property, but that he's concerned about the future.

The company that set up here, Encana, drilled a dozen wells this year, but has plans for only three or four next year. The reduction is impacting those who were counting on the income.
"It's got a lot of peoples' hopes lost, they don't know what to do now," Lawson said.  (go to article)

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Ohio shale gas means moderate winter prices, says Dominion East Ohio

cleveland.com -- CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Dominion East Ohio gas company expects a colder than normal winter but is predicting that gas prices will remain moderate because of increased shale gas production in the region.

"Once again, customers can set their thermostats with confidence this winter," Jeff Murphy, General Manager - Commercial Operations, said in a company statement.

He said prices for the rest of the winter could be lower than the price spikes of last February after two outbreaks of the polar vortex winds drove arctic air deep into the heart of the nation in January and pushed temperatures to the lowest they had been in 20 years.  (go to article)

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Washington State Spurned Money That Could Have Fixed This Deadly Bridge

Bloomberg -- As the story behind one of the greatest engineering non-achievements of the 21st century shows, the unbuilding of bridges just might be America’s last great collective undertaking.

Oregon and Washington had spent more than a decade devising a compromise to replace the steel-girded mess on Interstate 5. The structure dates to 1917 during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency and is too low for the tallest river-going derricks and dredges, so operators frequently have to raise part of the span, halting traffic. Rush hour starts every weekday at 2 p.m., and congestion multiplies odds of a crash as much as fourfold around the bridge, Oregon transportation planners say.  (go to article)

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Global Oil Impact: Who's Hurting, Happy, Hopeful

AP -- Oil's plunge is spreading both pain and gain across the globe.
The price of a barrel has fallen by about half since June, punishing the economies of some major exporters.

For countries that consume a large amount of the world's oil, it's a different story. The world's four biggest economies? U.S., China, Japan and that of the European Union? All benefit from lower oil prices.

"Economically this is a good thing for the U.S. Whether the price plunge ultimately helps or harms the global economy depends on how low oil prices fall, how long they stay low.

The U.S. stock market is trading near an all-time high, helped by some of the best employment and wage growth since the Great Recession.

THE HURTING: RUSSIA, VENEZUELA, NIGERIA
 (go to article)

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Alternatives to northern Minnesota crude oil pipeline also carry risks, study finds

Star Tribune -- A state study of six alternative routes for a proposed northern ­Minnesota crude oil pipeline has found serious environmental risks with all of them.

The lengthy report confirmed key weaknesses raised by critics of Enbridge Energy’s preferred route for the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline. It would cross the most acres of wetlands and public lands on its 610-mile path from North Dakota to Wisconsin, the study found.

But Enbridge’s Z-shaped route through Minnesota’s northern lakes region fared better than alternatives in important ways. Compared with six alternates, it would have the fewest stream crossings, encroach on the least number of cities and put at risk the fewest drinking water “high consequence areas,” the study found.

The state Commerce Department’s environmental review unit d  (go to article)

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How the world's biggest car company wants to get rid of gasoline

Yahoo -- The first thing you notice about the Mirai, Toyota’s new $62,000, four-door family sedan, is that it’s no Camry, an international symbol of bland conformity. First there are the in-your-face, angular grilles on the car’s front end. These deliver air to (and cool) a polymer fuel-cell stack under the hood. Then there’s the wavy, layered sides, meant to evoke a droplet of water. It looks like it was driven off the set of the Blade Runner sequel.
Just as the Prius has established itself as the first true mass-market hybrid, Toyota hopes the Mirai will one day become the first mass-market hydrogen car. On sale in Japan on Dec. 15, it will be available in the U.S. and Europe in late 2015 and has a driving range of 300 miles, much farther than most plug-in electrics can go. It also runs on the mo  (go to article)

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Put blind spots in the rearview with this high-tech car

CNBC -- The engineers at Cadillac say they've found the key to further eliminating a driver's blind spot.

Starting with its newest model, the 2016 CT6, the automaker will incorporate streaming video into the vehicle's rearview mirror, which will be fed by a high-definition camera embedded in the center of the trunk.

The technology will give CT6 drivers an immediate view of what's behind them in all lanes, and improve their field of vision by 300 percent, according to Cadillac.
The closest comparison to this kind of rear vision would be driving a convertible with the top down, said Travis Hester, the vehicle's executive chief engineer
The technology eliminates any rear-seat, rear-pillar or passenger obstructions, allowing the driver an unimpeded view of the lanes behind and traditional blind spot  (go to article)

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Not just tolls: E-Z Pass keeping an eye on speeders

USA Today -- Warning to motorists: Don't speed in the toll lanes. E-Z Pass is watching.

Several states, including New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania, say they monitor speeds through the fast pass toll lanes and will suspend your E-Z Pass for multiple speeding violations.

In all, five of the 15 E-Z Pass states have some kind of rules on the books for breaking the speed limit in the convenience lanes.

"You can lose your E-Z Pass privileges if you speed through E-Z Pass lanes," says Dan Weiller, director of communications for the New York State Thruway Authority. "You get a couple of warnings. We don't have the power to give a ticket, but we do have to power to revoke your E-Z Pass, which we will."
 (go to article)

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Are Republicans Really Behind Tesla Sales Bans? Data Offers Clues

Green Car Reports -- It seems to be a common assumption among Tesla Motors supporters: State auto-dealer lobbyists work with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers.

But is it true?

An article last month in The New York Times offers a few data points that may help assess the supposition.  (go to article)

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Early gift: Gas below $2 at some stations in 24 states

USA Today -- Just in time for a holiday road trip, gas prices in many places in middle of the country have dipped below $2 a gallon.  (go to article)

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Colonial Line 1 space rises on arbitrage for Gulf Coast CBOB

Platts -- Colonial Pipeline space strengthened Friday on a more attractive arbitrage to ship CBOB to the East Coast.

Space on Line 1, the gasoline pipeline linking Texas and North Carolina, was heard traded Friday afternoon at 18 cents/gal, up from 15 cents/gal on December 12. The trade reflects shipments of gasoline for Colonial's 71st cycle, for which products will be scheduled Monday.

Market players sometimes pay premiums for access to Line 1, which has been allocated every cycle for three years, including the 72nd, which was allocated on Friday.

Higher line space points to more desire to move blendstock from the Gulf Coast to take advantage of lower differentials there. Gulf Coast CBOB was assessed Friday at NYMEX January RBOB futures minus 26 cents/gal, a differential that has dropped six o  (go to article)

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Oil surplus offers storage profit hope

Financial Times -- Brent crude’s worst slump since the financial crisis amid a mounting oil surplus is set to boost demand for storage facilities and usher in a new era of profitable deals for the world’s biggest oil traders.

Relentless US production and Opec supplies above targets have coincided with a demand slowdown in Europe and Asia — boosting supplies and driving prices down by almost half since mid-June.

Demand growth in the coming months is expected to slow, and industry observers say the large crude overhang is likely to fill onshore storage facilities and offshore tankers across the globe.

The market is likely to “bump up against storage capacity”, said the International Energy Agency in its oil market report.

Assuming the Opec cartel maintains outp  (go to article)

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You can drink this car's exhaust

CNN Money -- The Toyota Mirai is a Hydrogen fuel cell powered car that emits 100% pure high quality H20.

VIDEO  (go to article)

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Canada slaps sanctions on Russian oil industry

Reuters -- OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada announced new sanctions against Russia on Friday, including additional restrictions on the export of technology used in the oil and gas industry, saying it was important to speak truth to power.

 (go to article)

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Holland woman who died in crash may have suffered medical emergency

MLive.com -- An 85-year-old Holland woman died Thursday, Dec. 18, after a crash on East 24th Street between Country Club and Waverly roads, police said.

Dolores Slikkers died at Holland Hospital after the 1:52 p.m. crash.

It is possible that Slikkers suffered a medical emergency before the crash occurred, police said.

Police said a 28-year-old Holland man, in a 2004 Honda, was driving west on 24th Street when he slowed to make a left turn into a private drive. Slikkers, driving a 2010 Nissan, was also headed west but was in the eastbound lane, within a passing zone.

As the 28-year-old man began to make a left turn, his Honda side-swiped the Nissan.  (go to article)

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Chrysler recalls 280,000 trucks in for axle failures

The Detroit News -- FCA US LLC said Friday it is recalling nearly 257,000 Dodge Ram pickups in the United States because a loose nut may cause the rear axle to seize.

The Auburn Hills unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it is recalling 256,956 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups built from January 2004 through August 2005. Chrysler dealers will install a retention feature to the pinion nut. The recall will begin Feb. 13. The recall in total covers 280,000 vehicles worldwide.
 (go to article)

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U.S. ends TARP with $15.3 billion profit

Money.CNN.com -- The U.S. government essentially closed the books on TARP with a $15.3 billion profit.
Treasury sold its remaining shares Friday in Ally Financial, its last remaining major stake from the $426 billion bailout of banks and the U.S. auto industry.

If GM and Chrysler had gone under, it would have cost an estimated $39 billion to $105 billion in lost tax revenues as well as assistance to the unemployed, according to a study from the Center for Auto Research. And the government also would have been on the hook for billions in promised pension payments to autoworkers.  (go to article)

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2 dead in explosion, fire at Oklahoma oil rig

Fuel Fix -- An explosion and fire early Friday morning killed two people and critically injured two others at an oil rig in southeastern Oklahoma.

Authorities said the explosion occurred at the rig about 2 miles west of Coalgate in a remote area of rural Coal County about 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that regulates the oil and gas industry, said no evacuations were required in the area and there were no reports that the explosion and fire caused environmental damage that would require subsequent cleanup.

Skinner said he didn’t know if the fire was still burning. Coal County Sheriff Bryan Jump, who is at the scene, was not immediately available for comment.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office identified the dead as Gary Keen  (go to article)

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Ohio Supreme Court sides with Toledo, home-rule cities

Toledo Blade --
COLUMBUS — In what could be a short-lived victory for traffic camera programs, the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday narrowly upheld the way Toledo hears appeals of citations.

In a 4-3 decision, the high court found that an administrative hearing process does not unconstitutionally usurp the authority of Toledo Municipal Court. To get there, the court reaffirmed its 2008 ruling that cities have home-rule authority to impose civil fines through the camera programs.

That comes even as cities threaten to sue the state on home-rule grounds if Gov. John Kasich signs a bill passed by the General Assembly last week to impose restrictions on the programs that cities contend are tantamount to a practical ban.

The bill would require a police officer to be present to witness any violation caught by  (go to article)

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Putting KC’s Grand Boulevard on a slimming diet — and adding bikes Read more here: http://www.kansa

Kansas City Star -- “With these wide streets, you basically get a drag-racing effect,” said Eric Bunch, co-founder of the advocacy group BikeWalkKC. “You just drive fast from red light to red light.”  (go to article)

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Five signs America is falling in love with public transit

CNN -- Ridership aboard U.S. public transportation in 2014 is expected to top last year's figures. 2013 saw more riders on public transportation than any year since 1956, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Denver's revamped Union Station transportation center helped increase the city's third-quarter light rail ridership by 6.3%, according to APTA. Bus riders increased by .75%.  (go to article)

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Chicago Tribune studies city's red light system more than city itself

GasBuddy Blog -- According to a significant investigative piece by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago's massive red light system fails to deliver on the touted benefits long claimed by Chicago's City Hall.The Tribune study included several well respected traffic engineers, being led by Dominique Lord, an associate professor at the Texas A&M University's Zachry Department of Civil Engineering.When I read the study myself it became obvious that the study was so extensive it appeared Chicago's City Hall had little to fight it with, resorting to flawed studies, anecdotal evidence, and other long standing myths....  (go to article)

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The World's Biggest Car Company Wants to Get Rid of Gasoline

Bloomberg News -- Just as the Prius has established itself as the first true mass-market hybrid, Toyota hopes the Mirai will one day become the first mass-market hydrogen car.  (go to article)

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Good Times From Texas to North Dakota May Turn Bad on Oil-Price Drop

Bloomberg -- Business at Chris Meyer’s Ace Hardware store in Cotulla is booming four years after oil companies began rolling into the dusty south Texas town, invigorating a once-stagnant economy.

“We were in a 17-year drought and now it’s raining,” Meyer said. “And we’re tickled to death that it’s raining.”

The forecast may be about to change.

While slumping crude and gasoline prices are projected to boost the nation’s economy by leaving more cash in consumers’ pockets, they also threaten to limit growth, tax revenue and job opportunities from Texas to North Dakota. By restraining new industry investment, the declines are set to subdue the most rapidly expanding U.S. regions.

“For oil producers, it means an adjustment in terms of expectations and a realignment in terms of capital-spending plans,” s  (go to article)

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Geneva’s Army of Oil Traders Embraces Profits a Crash Brings

Bloomberg -- Crude oil’s worst slump since the financial crisis means profits for Geneva’s army of traders.

After years of steady prices, the crash has brought back the volatility on which traders thrive. While the fall in benchmark Brent to five-year lows has rocked economies from Russia to Venezuela, the world’s biggest commodity trading houses, which buy and sell about a third or world’s oil from the Swiss city, are relishing the return to a bear market.

Lower prices have cut financing costs, provided an opportunity to lock in profits by storing fuels and heralded the return of big price swings that can help firms from Vitol Group to Trafigura Beheer BV generate higher returns.

“Commodity traders are in a much more optimistic mood these days,” Roland Rechtsteiner, a Zurich-based partner at Oliver  (go to article)

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Oil price wars: Who will be left standing? Live discussion

Financial Post -- Oil prices have crashed, falling more than $50 since the summer and that has triggered panic across the world. From companies putting them up for sales to hectic selling across equity markets from Toronto to Riyadh

But we have been here before, haven't we? It's not the first oil price crash markets have seen, and it won't be the last

But there are new factors: U.S. shale producers, rampant production from Canadian conventional and unconventionals, Russia using oil as a weapon and Saudi Arabia in less comfortable position than before to ride out low prices.

Predicting oil prices is a difficult business, but were you surprised the commodity has fallen by so much and so quickly?

Emad: I was extremely concerned by the oil market structure at the start of the year, with my target at $90 and  (go to article)

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Senate Approves New Auto Safety Chief

Associated Press (AP) Published in Product Design and Development -- The Senate confirmed a new administrator to lead the government's auto safety agency, which faces complaints that regulators bungled two high-profile recalls involving faulty ignition switches and exploding air bags.

Mark Rosekind, 59, a leading expert on human fatigue, was approved by voice vote to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a neglected but critically important agency that is widely considered to be understaffed and underfunded. The previous administrator, David Strickland, left in January.  (go to article)

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Treasury exits Ally, ends six-year auto bailout

Detroit News -- The U.S. Treasury on Friday ended its historic six-year intervention into the U.S. auto industry, as it sold its remaining 11.4 percent stake in Ally Financial Inc. The Detroit-based auto lender had received $17.2 billion in bailouts.

The Treasury said it sold its remaining 54.9 million shares at $23.25 of the auto lending and bank holding company, recovering $1.3 billion. The losses on the $85 billion auto industry were about $10 billion, but they saved hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“The auto industry financing program helped save the auto industry, more than 1 million jobs, and prevent a second Great Depression,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said. “Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, our economy has rebounded from the depths of the financial crisis and is now creating jobs at  (go to article)

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Toyota Aims to Bring Crash-Prevention Technology to Mainstream

Wall Street Journal -- TOKYO— Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will introduce less-costly crash-prevention systems to most of the vehicles it sells in its biggest markets starting next year, in a bid to usher the new technology into the mainstream.

The Japanese auto maker will offer two crash-prevention technologies for new cars in the U.S., Japan and Europe by the end of 2017, said Moritaka Yoshida, a Toyota senior managing officer who oversees safety technologies.

Toyota said the new technologies use both a camera and radar to detect objects near the car and alert drivers. The technologies also can slow down or brake a vehicle automatically to prevent collisions.

The automotive industry has been working to develop so-called active technologies that help drivers prevent accidents or drive more safely.  (go to article)

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7 dream cars for the holidays

Yahoo -- If you’re dreaming of a shiny new car in the driveway this holiday season, dream big. To inspire, we've assembled a collection of mechanical sugar plums worthy of an informed auto-enthusiasts' wish list.

Consumer Reports' engineers and editors drive well over 100 new cars every year, and we’ve found many exotics don’t live up to the image. Here are seven dream machines that do, listed in in ascending order of price.

Ford Mustang Base MSRP range: $23,600-$41,600
Everyday sports car: BMW M235i
Base MSRP range: $32,100-$44,900
Uber sedan: Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec
Base MSRP range: $51,800-$103,200
Luxe family hauler: BMW X5
Base American powerhouse: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Base MSRP range: $54,000-$64,000MSRP range: $53,200-$69,100
Green game changer: Tesla Model S
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Cheer up Iron Man: Tesla top 2015 Wall Street pick

CNBC -- Elon Musk has lost more than $1 billion on his Tesla holdings alone in the last month. But the inspiration for Hollywood's "Iron Man" may be a lot happier next year, if Wall Street analysts are right.
Tesla shares are due for a 30 percent comeback in the next 12 months based on the average analyst price target of $269.25 compiled by FactSet
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Naimi: OPEC needs more support for output cutdown

Reuters -- Saudi Arabia's powerful oil minister said on Thursday that OPEC could not cut output without the support of other big producers and attempts to get them on board had not worked.

Ali al-Naimi said it was impossible for OPEC to cut alone to reverse the oil price slump—which he called temporary—when others were pumping more, saying that could lead to losing market share and with no guarantee of supporting prices.
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Oil rallies to $60, heads for 4th weekly fall on glut

Reuters -- - Brent crude oil rose to around $60 a barrel on Friday, rallying from near a 5-1/2-year low as investors squared books ahead of the year-end festive break after six months of falling prices.

Oil prices were on track for a fourth straight week of declines after OPEC members last month decided against cutting production despite a huge global overhang of supply.

Brent and the U.S. crude oil benchmark have almost halved in value since June and many investors expect further falls unless supply tightens or demand picks up.  (go to article)

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Most steel fasteners safe on San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: officials

Reuters --

By Michael Fleeman (Reuters) - The vast majority of steel rods and bolts holding together a new section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge are safe, state investigators said Thursday, despite earlier cracks in about 32 fasteners on the span, which replaced a section of the bridge lost in a 1989 earthquake.

A draft report to be presented to earthquake safety overseers on Friday shows that the rods and bolts that cracked had been weakened by sitting in puddles of rainwater for up to five years before they were tightened, but the remaining 2,200 connections had not been exposed to those conditions.

“The remaining ... high-strength steel rods used on the bridge can safely remain in service with continued inspection and maintenance,” the report said.

The report said the fasten  (go to article)

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In North Dakota, countdown looms for $5.3 billion oil tax break

Reuters -- BISMARCK, N.D. (Reuters) - Tumbling U.S. oil markets hit an important if obscure milestone on Thursday, closing for the first time at a price that could trigger a $5.3 billion, two-year tax break for North Dakota oil drillers as soon as next summer.

Under a decades-old law, the state at the heart of the U.S. shale oil boom would waive its 6.5 percent oil extraction tax once the average monthly price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude at Cushing, Oklahoma, falls below a certain threshold for five consecutive months.

For next year, that price is $55.08 per barrel. On Thursday, U.S. crude oil futures settled at $54.11 per barrel, the lowest close since May 2009 and the latest leg of a rout that has halved the price of crude since June.

It is unlikely that the clock would s  (go to article)

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Montana mulls 85 mph speed limit

GasBuddy Blog -- Will western states let drivers go too fast? That's what John Glionna of the Los Angeles Times is asking. He says U.S. speed limits are rising nationwide, especially in wide-open Western states, reflecting the more-harried lifestyles of a fast-paced nation. But many safety officials are scratching their heads over a perilous trend they say will lead to more — and more ghastly — fatalities. Each year, excessive speed contributes to one-third of highway deaths nationally."The research is clear and consistent on the safety consequences of raising speed limits," said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Higher speed limits get people to their destinations faster, but there's always a cost: Ultimately, there will be more severe crashes and more deaths on those roads. At the end of the day, it's simple physics." ...  (go to article)

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P.E.I. looks to increase green power with Hydro-Québec deal

Canadian Press -- Ghiz, the Premier of P.E.I., unveiled his intentions to purchase up to 100MW of electricity from Hydro-Québec

Ghiz told Quebec Premier Couillard he’d like to establish a business relationship in terms of the future sale of hydroelectric power

This is a modest contract for Hydro-Québec, but Couillard said it’s an important to do business with other Canadian provinces

P.E.I. is in the process of buying a new cable linking the tiny island to NB to bolster electrical capacity

P.E.I. generates 30% of its energy through wind turbines and is looking to up the green quotient of its energy with hydro

A contract with P.E.I. combined with the recent deal with ON to supply hydro power in peak hours raised the profile of Hydro-Québec

The next step will be to give competitive rates to Newfoundland  (go to article)

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Oil jumps three percent to $63 as energy firms slash investments

Reuters -- Brent crude jumped 3% to above $63 on Thu, extending a rebound from 5-yr lows this week as oil's 6-mth price rout

Oil this week has almost halved since Jun as fast-growing U.S. shale output overwhelms demand

Signs that lower prices are threatening future production have given some traders pause. Oil prices were volatile on Wed, briefly spiking as much as 6% as players rushed to close short positions, before falling back

"investors favour support around $60. Lower investment in production could be felt in the market as early as the Q2 2015

Chevron has put a plan to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea on indefinite hold, while Marathon cut its capital expenditure for next year by about 20%

Canadian oil producers also deepened cuts in 2015, as Husky, MEG and Penn West joined those hacking  (go to article)

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How Obama (and Bush) helped drive down oil prices

Yahoo -- Few people foresaw the nearly 50% plunge in oil prices this year. But the forces reshaping the oil market have been aligning for nearly a decade, with part of the impetus coming from Washington.

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which President George W. Bush promptly signed. The EISA raised federal mileage requirements for passenger cars for the first time since 1990, in an effort to reduce U.S. gas consumption and make America less dependent on foreign oil.

The new rules required automakers to achieve average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon among all the new vehicles in their fleet by model year 2020 -- up sharply from a requirement of 27.5 MPG for cars and 22.2 MPG for light trucks (pickups and SUVs) at the time.

President Obama raised the MPG goa  (go to article)

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North Sea oilfields ‘near collapse’ after price nosedive

The Telegraph -- The North Sea oil industry is “close to collapse”, an expert has warned, as a slump in prices piles pressure on drillers to cut back investing in the region.

Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers’ association Brindex, told the BBC that it is “almost impossible to make money” with the oil price below $60 per barrel.

“It’s a huge crisis. This has happened before, and the industry adapts, but the adaptation is one of slashing people, slashing projects and reducing costs,” he said.

Mr Allan’s glum outlook for oil production and exploration in the UK Continental Shelf came on a volatile day of trading for crude. Brent – a global pricing benchmark comprising crude from 15 North Sea fields – ended trading in London down 1pc at around $60 per barrel after trading up by as much...  (go to article)

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