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Sunday, August 31, 2014

22
votes
Smuggled oil could fund ISIS beyond the battles of Iraq

Haynesville.com -- The Islamic State, also known by their older name, ISIS, has systematically attempted (and on some fronts succeeded) to take over prominent infrastructure and resources throughout Iraq. Last month’s capture of the Mosul hydroelectric dam by the jihadists caused panic that electricity and water would be cut off, or worse, a complete destruction of the dam which would have caused many deaths in the region.  (read more)

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21
votes
EDITORIAL: Make the holiday a break -- not a DUI heartbreaker

The Fresno Bee -- The August headlines in The Bee have hit the Valley like a punch to the gut.

"Man pleads guilty to killing 3 sisters."

"Woman gets prison for death: Hit-run crash killed Clovis man in 2011."

"Meth linked to fatal crash in Fresno: Woman is accused of DUI in stolen SUV."

All these tragedies had one thing in common: innocent people died because someone was driving — or was suspected of driving — while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

As we party and travel on this Labor Day weekend, a three-day holiday noted for a spike in DUI arrests, law enforcement agencies Valleywide are warning that they are on a maximum-enforcement period ending Monday at midnight.  (read more)

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21
votes
California drivers brace for costly new gas tax

Fox News -- Californians already pay the nation's second highest gas tax at 68 cents a gallon -- and now it will go up again in January to pay for a first-in-the-nation climate change law.

"I didn't know that," said Los Angeles motorist Tyler Rich. "It's ridiculous."

"I think it’s terrible," added Lupe Sanchez, pumping $4.09-a-gallon gas at a Chevron near Santa Monica. "The economy, the way it is right now with jobs and everything, it's just crazy."

When gas prices go up, motorists typically blame oil companies, Arab sheiks and Wall Street speculators. This time they can blame Sacramento and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for passing a bill requiring California to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The tax on carbon already raised about $1 billion in revenue by requiring m  (read more)

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19
votes
Coal is not top issue for most WV voters

CharlestonDailyMail -- The future of the coal industry isn’t the top priority for the vast majority of West Virginians likely to vote to send someone to Congress this year, according to a new West Virginia Poll.

A little more than 16 percent of people polled chose “the future of coal” among seven other options when asked what issue “is the most important to your vote for Congress this year?” Only 10 percent said it was the second most important issue to their vote.

Unemployment and jobs, health care and the federal budget all registered as higher priorities for the 401 people polled. R.L. Repass conducts the West Virginia Poll for the Charleston Daily Mail.

Much of the political advertising from West Virginia’s Democrat and Republican candidates for federal office has in some way focused on coal or criticize  (read more)

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18
votes
Flying a Blimp Is Way Trickier Than You’d Expect

Wired -- Goodyear’s newest airship, just christened Wingfoot One, is now cruising the skies in all its newfangled glory. From the ground, the redesigned dirigible doesn’t look that different—it’s bigger, sure, but not much else. Not so from the cockpit. “From a pilot’s standpoint, it’s a night-and-day difference from the old model to the new airship that we’re flying,” says Goodyear pilot Derek Reid.

Pilots flying the old model operate a wheel and rudder system, like old-timey boat captains. The new model feels more like a videogame, with a joystick controlling pitch and yaw. A control panel displays electronic feedback from all flight control surfaces, and vectored engines can swivel in any direction, allowing the ship to take off and land like a helicopter and hover in place.  (read more)

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

74
votes
As Obama drags heels, Canada turns to China

WND --
NEW YORK – With the increasing importance of oil sales to the Canadian economy and the Obama administration’s continued blocking of plans to build the Keystone Pipeline, Canada is moving ahead with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a pipeline to expedite the shipping of land-locked oil reserves in Alberta to China.

Calgary-based energy giant Enbridge received the approval of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government June 17 to proceed with the construction of the $7.3 billion Northern Gateway Project connecting Canada’s rich oil sands in Alberta to a British Columbia port, despite the strong objections of aboriginal “first nation” tribes and environmental activists.

The Harper government in recent months has become increasingly frustrated with the refusal of the Obama admini  (read more)

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1472 Comments

61
votes
Natural gas drives up revenue, alternative vehicles

Bakken -- Clay Clemmer filled up his company’s Chevrolet truck with compressed natural gas on Wednesday at Tyler’s new fueling station — First Alt Fuel.

Clemmer, 50, co-owner of the Granite Division Inc. in Tyler, bought the company’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) truck in December in anticipation of the fueling station opening in Tyler.

“We’re trying it out to see how it works,” Clemmer said. “It’s been good so far.”

The Granite Division is one of several businesses converting to vehicles that run on natural gas for efficiency and to save money.  (read more)

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1242 Comments

60
votes
Progress on a Powerful New Way to Generate Electricity

MIT Technology Review -- A powerful new way to generate electricity could eventually make electric cars and electronic gadgets run longer.

About four years ago, researchers in Michael Strano’s chemical engineering lab at MIT coated a short piece of yarn made of carbon nanotubes with TNT and lit one end with a laser. It sparkled and burned like a fuse, demonstrating a new way to generate electricity that produces phenomenal amounts of power.

At the time, no one understood how it worked, and it was so inefficient that it was little more than a “laboratory curiosity,” Strano says.

Now, Strano has figured out the underlying physics, which has helped his team improve efficiencies dramatically—by 10,000 times—and charted a path for continued rapid improvements.  (read more)

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889 Comments

58
votes
Labor Day outlook in the Valley: Cheaper gas, plentiful campsites

The Fresno Bee -- Valley residents looking for a final summer getaway this Labor Day weekend have some good news: Gas prices are down a bit, and campsites in Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon national parks are still available.

Gas prices dropped slightly in the lead up to the Labor Day weekend. Thursday, the average gas price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $3.87 in Fresno and $3.83 in the Visalia-Tulare-Porterville area, according to AAA of Northern California.

AAA's Labor Day travel survey found that more than 3.9 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, a 1.6% increase compared to last year.

"Californians are more optimistic about their financial situation, and consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income," Cynthia Harris said.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
450 Comments

52
votes
54.5 mpg: Why our measure of fuel economy is wrong

Chicago Tribune -- 54.5 miles per gallon. That is the target fuel efficiency for all light-duty vehicles by model year 2025. Yet if you’ve gone car shopping lately, you’ve noticed that the combined mpg is nowhere near that target. The average fuel economy of all new cars sold was 25.6 mpg as of July 2014.

That’s a huge gap. While average fuel economy continues to improve, the target benchmark seems impossible to reach.

That’s because we’re looking at two different measurements of fuel economy.

The lofty 54.5 mpg target that is commonly understood and reported by media is the UNADJUSTED value. The real number we see on window stickers and that are reported by our fuel gauges is the ADJUSTED value.

For those of you keeping score at home, the ADJUSTED target—the one that matters...  (read more)

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Friday, August 29, 2014

68
votes
Europe will be Russia's hostage over gas supplies for at least another decade

The Telegraph -- Europe will remain heavily reliant on Russian gas for at least another decade, according to a leading rating agency.

Fitch said a lack of alternative sources meant policymakers would have no choice but to continue buying gas from Russia until at least the mid-2020s and "potentially much longer".

Europe already buys a quarter of its gas from Russia, and analysts expect consumption to increase by a third by 2030 as economies recover from the debt crisis and gas-fired electricity generation replaces old coal and nuclear power.

Major natural gas pipelines

Many of the main gas pipelines into Western Europe run through Ukraine (Source: Fitch)

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Submitted Aug 29, 2014 By:
1397 Comments

65
votes
Domestic crude begins to cut into Saudi U.S. sales volumes

Houston Chronical -- HOUSTON — Since about 2009 and until just recently, Saudi Arabia shipped discounted crude to the U.S. in growing volumes even as total U.S. waterborne imports fell. But while Saudi Arabia isn’t about to exit the U.S. market, cheaper domestic crude oils are beginning to displace Saudi imports.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 29, 2014 By:
953 Comments

60
votes
Researchers recommend eco-friendly solutions to recycle frack water

WaterWorld -- Scientists at Rice University have produced a detailed analysis of water produced by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at three gas reservoirs in the states of Texas, Pennsylvania and New Mexico and have suggested that environmentally friendly remedies are needed to treat and reuse it. Rice chemist Andrew Barron, who led the study, suggested that more advanced recycling rather than disposal of produced water pumped back out of wells could calm fears of accidental spillage and save millions of gallons of fresh water a year.

The amount of water used by Texas drillers for fracking may only be 1.5 percent of that used by farming and municipalities, but it still amounts to as much as 5.6 million gallons per year for the Texas portion of the Haynesville formation and 2.8 million gallons for...  (read more)

Submitted Aug 29, 2014 By:
707 Comments

59
votes
Roadway safety a major concern over final summer holiday weekend

Deseret News -- While Labor Day weekend is considered the unofficial end of the summer vacation season, it also has the more notorious distinction of being the close of the period known as the “100 deadliest days” on Utah highways.

Last year, 85 people died on state roadways during the nearly four-month period from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This year, that number has already reached 91 fatalities, according to Utah Highway Patrol trooper Lawrence Hopper, with Labor Day still to come.

“It’s been a deadly summer,” Hopper lamented.

Data from the Utah Department of Public Safety shows at least 217 deaths occurred annually on state roadways from 2004 to 2013, including a high of 299 in 2007. Last year marked the second-lowest total — 220 deaths — in Utah since 1959.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 29, 2014 By:
57 Comments

53
votes
Mid-Sized Pickup Trucks: Does GM Have the Price You Like?

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..gmauthority.comGM has a challenge and it's found an opportunity.  According to Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press, the company GM is under pressure to differentiate its midsize trucks from its full-size duo, the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.
And they plan to do just that using a wide range of prices to make those distinctions. Consequently, General Motors prices for 2015 mid-size trucks start as low as $20,995 — as the auto industry’s pickup tug-of-war intensifies....  (read more)

Submitted Aug 29, 2014 By:
1475 Comments

Thursday, August 28, 2014

68
votes
Beating Our Enemies By Energy Independence

Forbes -- The largest obstacle remains the existing infrastructure. It simply cannot support the current level output in terms of transporting, distributing and storing more oil and natural gas, and as such, it must be upgraded.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 28, 2014 By:
1245 Comments

61
votes
Fuel tanks pulled out of downtown Fresno property so restaurant can go in

The Fresno Bee -- A downtown property got one step closer to redevelopment Wednesday with the removal of giant underground fuel tanks.

The property at 603 Broadway St., at the corner of Ventura Street, has been a service station for decades, and is currently the American & Foreign auto repair shop. But owner George Guzelian hopes to develop the property as something else, including possibly a fast-food restaurant.

The tanks -- three 3,000- to 4,000-gallon gasoline or diesel tanks and a 280-gallon oil tank -- were pulled out with excavators, paid for by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiative to clean up sites with abandoned gas tanks.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 28, 2014 By:
1177 Comments

58
votes
US green energy share hits record levels as solar power doubles

Business Green -- Renewables made up 14.3 per cent of US electricity generation in the first half of 2014, spurred by solar power more than doubling its output year on year.

The US Energy Information Administration's most recent Electric Power Monthly publication shows hydropower output was just outpaced by other renewables, as the sectors accounted for seven and 7.3 per cent of electricity generation, respectively.

Overall, total electricity from all renewables increased by 2.73 per cent year on year, despite small declines in geothermal power and hydropower, beating the 2.59 per cent net growth across all energy sources, the EIA figures show.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 28, 2014 By:
1125 Comments

55
votes
Are the world’s cars on the cusp of going solar?

CNBC -- Within a decade, declining prices of solar systems and batteries combined with the rise of electric vehicles may start sending internal combustion engines to the junk yard, analysts say.

"By 2020, shrinking battery and solar cost will make EVs (electric vehicles) in the mass segments the cheaper alternative over a car life cycle in most European markets," UBS analysts said in a note last week.

It expects Europe, particularly Germany, Italy and Spain, to lead the shift due to their high fuel and retail electricity costs, with a "conservative" estimate for around 10 percent of Europe's new car registrations to be electric vehicles by 2025.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 28, 2014 By:
82 Comments

46
votes
Fracking Taxes Help States Now, But What About The Future?

Forbes -- As bad as the federal budget picture looked during the Great Recession, the fiscal climate in the states was worse. The federal government used stimulus spending to prevent many states from having to make sharp cuts in services because of steep declines in sales, income, and corporate tax revenues. However, the state fiscal picture is looking much better.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 28, 2014 By:
20 Comments

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

66
votes
One of History’s Most Beautiful Cars May Also Be the Most Innovative

Wired -- Sixty years after its debut, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing remains one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Even when you paint it beige and cover its seats in shriek-inducing red and green plaid, it’s gorgeous. But more importantly—at least in the annals of automotive history—the car was packed with innovative tech like a slanted inline six-cylinder engine, fuel injection, a lightweight frame, and those glorious doors.

Like with many automotive inventions, the 300 SL’s groundbreaking features were born from racing. It all started with the 1952 W 194 series 300 SL, which took first and second place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; first, second, and third at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring; and first in the 1,900-mile Carrerra Panamericana race.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 27, 2014 By:
1427 Comments

62
votes
Texas lawmakers focus on oil boom

The Houston Chronicle -- AUSTIN — In a preview of priorities for the next legislative session, state lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday examined the ways the oil boom is changing life in Texas.

Since the legislature last convened in 2013, budget officials have reported an unexpectedly large windfall from taxes on the petroleum industry, filling state coffers with a multi-billion dollar opportunity to address issues like the water shortage, transportation gridlock and troubled public schools. But industry practices have also wrecked roads, strained infrastructure, vexed police departments, drained water resources, polluted the air and set off knotty disputes among landowners, royalty claimants and oil companies.

Above all, the oil boom has emerged as a singular force driving the state’s great challenge of the 21st  (read more)

Submitted Aug 27, 2014 By:
1490 Comments

61
votes
Mister Car Wash sold to California equity firm

The Associated Press -- Tucson-based Mister Car Wash, one of the nation's biggest car-wash chains, has been acquired by a Los Angeles-based private equity firm.

The Arizona Daily Star reports (http://goo.gl/DY6tUe) the company says ONCAP, an investment fund of Toronto-based Onex Corp., sold the car-wash chain last week to Leonard Green & Partners LP for an undisclosed price.

Mister Car Wash's president and CEO John Lai says the deal will help Mister Car Wash capitalize on an acquisition strategy while strengthening its leadership position. He will remain the company's top executive.

Mister Car Wash now operates 134 car washes and 32 lube centers in 14 states.

The company announced in May it was buying all six Albuquerque locations of Octopus Car Wash, a chain made popular in the hit TV series "Breaking Bad."  (read more)

Submitted Aug 27, 2014 By:
756 Comments

60
votes
Cheaper, Cleaner, and Safer: How Hydrogen Could Replace Oil

Wall St. Cheat Sheet -- Scientists have been taking cues from nature for years, but few breakthroughs are potentially this important. In an effort to seek out clean, renewable energy sources, a team from the Australian National University has successfully duplicated one of the more crucial steps in photosynthesis — the process in which plants actively turn sunlight into energy — which could ultimately open the door to harnessing the process for energy cultivation.

If scientists are able to successfully take the photosynthesis process and apply it to industrial biological systems sunlight could be used to manufacture hydrogen, which could then be used as fuel. Hydrogen is already used as a fuel in many instances and if applied on a large scale, it could serve as a replacement for petroleum products — all the...  (read more)

Submitted Aug 27, 2014 By:
131 Comments

59
votes
Used car batteries can now be turned into solar cells

GMA -- Soon, used car batteries may find new life as solar cells, thanks to the work of researchers at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

The MIT said the researchers, after 18 months of testing, found the experimental solar cells are as efficient as many commercial silicon cells.

More importantly, the development may symbolize how hazardous waste could still be turned into renewable energy, the IEEE Spectrum reported.

In their paper, the researchers described a way to make perovskite solar cells using lead from recycled car batteries, in a low-temperature, simple process.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 27, 2014 By:
57 Comments