• Japan trade gap narrows in April as cheaper oil cuts imports

    Updated: 38 min ago

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan reports its trade deficit narrowed sharply in April from the previous year as the plunge in oil prices cut fuel import costs, while exports to the U.S. and the rest of Asia surged. The Finance Ministry reported on Monday a 53.4 billion yen ($439.6 million) deficit in April, compared with an 825.5 billion yen deficit the year before. Exports rose 8 percent year-on-year to 6.55 trillion yen ($53.9 billion) while imports dropped 4.2 percent to 6.6 trillion yen ($54.3 billion). Exports to the U.S., Japan's biggest market, jumped 21 percent from a year earlier to 1.36 trillion yen ($11.2 billion), while imports from the U.S. rose 24 percent, to 714.1 billion yen ($5.9 billion).

  • Protester leaves Shell ship north of Seattle; 1 remains

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    SEATTLE (AP) — One of two protesters who affixed themselves to an Arctic oil-drilling support ship parked north of Seattle left the vessel Sunday, but the other remained suspended from its anchor chain in an effort to draw attention to climate change and the risks an oil spill could pose in the remote waters off northwestern Alaska. Protester Matt Fuller requested help getting down from the Arctic Challenger in Bellingham Bay about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, and the Coast Guard said it obliged. The Arctic Challenger is part of a fleet Royal Dutch Shell expects to use to conduct exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska this summer — plans that have drawn large protests in Seattle, where a massive, floating dr

  • Nigerian cellphone provider needs fuel to prevent shut-down

    Updated: 6 hr ago

    LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's leading cellphone provider said Sunday it urgently needs diesel to prevent shutting down services countrywide — the latest business hit by a months-long fuel crisis in Africa's biggest oil producer. Many aircraft have been grounded with foreign airlines diverting to other African countries to fuel for flights abroad. Some radio stations have been silenced. Nigeria's woefully erratic electricity supply keeps businesses dependent on diesel generators. Nigeria produces more than 2 billion barrels of petroleum a day, but imports almost all refined fuel because its refineries aren't maintained.

  • New Census numbers show Casper population exceeding 60,000

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Casper has exceeded 60,000 in population for the first time in its history thanks largely to active oil drilling in the area, and a state economist says he believes the recent downturn in oil prices won't cause the large population losses that the city and state experienced in past boom-to-bust cycles. New numbers released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau estimate that Casper gained nearly 400 residents during the year ending July 1, 2014, putting it just over the 60,000 mark by 86 people. Cheyenne remains the most populous city in the state with an estimated 62,845 residents. Laramie is No. 3 at 32,081, followed by Gillette with 31,971, Rock Springs with 24,045 and Sheridan with 17,916.

  • High-profile votes, fights preview Wolf's challenges in June

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — June is crunch time in the state Capitol and the challenges in front of Gov. Tom Wolf are becoming clearer in the Democrat's first go-round with budget negotiations. For Wolf, who took office in January, it will be perhaps the biggest test yet of his mettle, and an important sign of how successful he will be the rest of his term in persuading the state Legislature's huge Republican majorities to support his priorities. The last few days provided something of a preview of the battles awaiting Wolf's administration and how it might handle them.

  • Cleanup of oil spill at ND farm to take 2 more years

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The state Health Department says cleanup of a pipeline rupture that caused more than 20,000 barrels of crude to ooze across a northwestern North Dakota wheat field will take twice as long as the company had expected. The massive spill from a Tesoro Corp. pipeline that was discovered by a Tioga farmer in September 2013. The spill has been called the worst in state history. Tesoro had said the spill would take two years to clean up. State environmental scientist Bill Suess says it's now estimated to take at least four years. Tesoro says more than 6,000 barrels of oil have been recovered. Suess says the rest is being baked out of the soil. Tesoro blames a lightning strike for causing the ruptu

  • Light on NC solar industry focused on ending preferences

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's rapidly-growing solar industry has an unwanted spotlight upon it from a cadre of fiscal conservatives at the General Assembly fixed on ending its preferential tax and energy policy treatments. "It's very simple: do you believe in subsidizing a special interest off the backs of our taxpayers or not?" Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, a fierce critic of the state's solar policies, asked colleagues during a recent debate. Millis and like-minded Republicans are in a full-court press this year to freeze portions of a 2007 law that are raising over time the percentage of retail sales that electric utilities must originate from renewable energy sources and energy efficiencies, reaching 12.5 percent

  • Futures File: Soybean prices drop; crude gushes higher

    Published: Sun, May 24, 2015

    Walt and Alex Breitinger: While some weather concerns linger, especially for farmers in Minnesota and the Dakotas who got slammed with freezing temperatures this week, the outlook is good for the bean crop, and bad for prices.

  • SRLC: Republican activists get legal briefing on EPA's power plant plan for carbon emissions

    By Paul Monies, Business Writer | Published: Sat, May 23, 2015

    GOP activists heard from legal experts Saturday on what they said was the failings of the proposed Clean Power Plan, which calls for power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The energy panel was on the final day of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City.

  • Pipeline that leaked wasn't equipped with auto shut-off


    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The pipeline that leaked thousands of gallons of oil on the California coast was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve because of a court fight nearly three decades ago, a county official said. The original owner of the pipeline skirted the Santa Barbara County requirement by successfully arguing in court in the late 1980s that it should be subject to federal oversight because the pipeline is part of an interstate network, said Kevin Drude, deputy director of the county's Energy and Minerals Division. Auto shut-off valves are not required by federal regulators. "It's the only major pipeline that doesn't have auto shut-off," Drude said. "For us, it's routi

  • Nigerian airlines cancel flights amid fuel crisis


    LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian airlines grounded flights Saturday and radio stations were silenced as a months-long fuel shortage aggravated by striking oil tanker drivers worsened in Africa's biggest oil producer. Vehicles also were grounded. Normally bustling roads in Lagos, a metropolis of 20 million, were half-empty and gas stations closed Saturday. One station owner said he had fuel but strikers are threatening to set fire to any stations selling it. He insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals. Police were arresting black marketers selling fuel at roadsides at four times the regulated 87 naira (40 cents) a liter.

  • Dayton vetoes agriculture-environment and jobs-energy bills


    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov, Mark Dayton vetoed two major budget bills ahead of a Saturday night deadline for final action on measures that passed before the end of the legislative session, but he proposed a temporary tax cut in return for a scaled back version of his proposal for universal preschool for all 4-year-olds. While Dayton signed a state government finance bill, he vetoed an agriculture-and-environment budget bill that contained his top environmental initiative, a requirement that farmers plant buffer strips to keep agricultural chemicals out of drainage ditches, streams and other waters. It also included money to combat the bird flu crisis.

  • 2 people chained to Shell ship north of Seattle


    BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Two people have chained themselves to a support ship that is part of Royal Dutch Shell's exploratory oil drilling plans and currently moored in Washington state. Eric Ross of the Backbone Campaign said on Saturday morning that Matt Fuller joined student activist Chiara Rose in suspending themselves from the anchor chain of the Arctic Challenger, which is in Bellingham Bay. Rose suspended herself from the ship with a climbing harness on Friday night. The Coast Guard cutter Osprey spent the night monitoring Rose but took no action, Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer said Saturday morning. "We're really most concerned for her safety and the safety of everyone involved," Shearer said.

  • AAA Mid-Atlantic: New Jersey gas prices drop from a year ago


    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Motorists hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend are seeing lower prices than a year ago. AAA Mid-Atlantic says that while the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $2.53, up 2 cents from last week, prices are down from a year ago. Drivers in New Jersey paid $3.50 for a gallon of regular gas in 2014. The national average Friday was $2.74, up 5 cents from last week. That's also lower than the national average from a year ago, when drivers paid $3.65. New Jersey travel for this weekend is expected to be up almost 5 percent over last year. AAA Mid-Atlantic says that's a 10-year high in travel volume and it's likely fueled by the drop in gas prices.

  • Woman chains herself to Shell ship in bay north of Seattle


    BELLINGHAM, Washington (AP) — The Coast Guard says it has no plans to remove a woman who has chained herself to the Arctic Challenger, a support ship for Royal Dutch Shell's exploratory oil drilling plans. The activist attached herself to the ship anchored in Bellingham Bay, north of Seattle, on Friday evening. The Coast Guard cutter Osprey spent the night monitoring the protester but took no action, Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer said Saturday morning. "We're really most concerned for her safety and the safety of everyone involved," Shearer said. Authorities spoke with the woman and asked her to remove herself. Shearer said there are no plans right now to do anything further. The ship isn't scheduled t

  • Fire on coastal Louisiana oil platform extinguished


    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A fire that burned for more than a day on an oil production platform off Louisiana's coast was extinguished early Saturday, the Coast Guard said. The fire was on a platform in Breton Sound near environmentally delicate barrier islands off the state's southeast coast. It was reported out around 6 a.m. after firefighting crews boarded the platform, Petty Officer Carlos Vega said. The fire had been reported at 2:50 a.m. Friday by an offshore supply vessel that evacuated 28 workers. No injuries were reported. The Coast Guard reported that a light sheen of oil near the site appeared to be dissipating and moving away from the Breton National Wildlife Refuge on the nearby barrier islands.

  • AAA: Md. drivers paying $2.67 per gallon


    WASHINGTON (AP) — Motorists in Maryland are paying 3 cents more at the pump when compared with a week ago. AAA Mid-Atlantic said Friday in a report that the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Maryland was $2.67, up from $2.64 a week ago. The price of gas in the state is 7 cents below the national average of $2.74. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in cities around the state includes $2.67 in Baltimore, $2.70 in Cumberland, $2.68 in Hagerstown and $2.55 in Salisbury. Motorists in the state are paying 98 cents less per gallon than at this time last year when the average price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.65 per gallon.

  • Up & Down in Texas politics: Tax cuts; crunch time calm


    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Greg Abbott used his January inaugural address to promise "lasting" property tax cuts. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick vowed plummeting oil prices wouldn't derail plans for the meatiest rollbacks in a decade: "Let there be no doubt — there will be tax cuts." A budget deal between the House and Senate does indeed deliver lower taxes. For many homeowners the windfall will be fleeting, however, and a slowdown in Texas' oil and gas industry is raining on the rest of the tax-cutting parade. The proposed budget features $3.8 billion in tax reductions — about $1 billion less than what lawmakers at one point proposed.

  • For Delaware drivers, gas up a penny to $2.60


    WASHINGTON (AP) — Motorists in Delaware are paying a penny more at the pump when compared with a week ago. AAA Mid-Atlantic said Friday that the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Delaware was $2.60. That's up a penny from a week ago. Motorists in the region are paying 99 cents less per gallon than a year ago. At this time last year Delaware drivers were paying $3.59 per gallon. The price of gas in the state is 14 cents below the national average of $2.74 per gallon.

  • Why many experts missed this: Cheap oil can hurt US economy


    WASHINGTON (AP) — If there was one thing most economists agreed on at the start of the year, it was this: Plunging oil prices would boost the U.S. economy. It hasn't worked out that way. The economy is thought to have shrunk in the January-March quarter and may barely grow for the first half of 2015 — thanks in part to sharp cuts in energy drilling. And despite their savings at the gas pump, consumers have slowed rather than increased their spending. At $2.74 a gallon, the average price of gas nationwide is nearly $1 lower than it was a year ago. In January, the average briefly reached $2.03, the lowest in five years.