• Oregon class-actions bill headed to governor

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon legislative Democrats voted Tuesday to change the way the state handles class-action lawsuits, rejecting objections from Republicans who insisted the bill would damage the state's business climate. Democrats say their bill would prevent companies that break the law from keeping the tainted money. Republicans say it would become far too easy to bring large lawsuits in Oregon. They also say it would unfairly change the rules for a lawsuit already in progress against the oil company BP, potentially costing the company tens of millions of dollars. The state Senate approved the measure in a 17-13 vote, with one Democrat, Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, joining all Republicans in opposition. The b

  • Advocates, critics of fracking turn out for hearing on bills

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Fracking opponents came out in force Tuesday to speak their minds at a Senate hearing on legislation that would limit natural gas drilling in Maryland. After more than five hours of testimony on unrelated legislation, by 6:30 p.m. the Senate committee had only just begun hearing testimony on the two drilling bills_one that would place an eight-year moratorium on fracking and another to prohibit the practice. Elliott Perfetti, operations manager of Blue Moon Rising, an "eco-friendly vacation village" in Garrett County, said his concern with fracking is that it "threatens the foundations that our economy and our community are built on.

  • Majority leader's amendment struck down in NC House bill

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina House completed work Tuesday on a cleanup spending bill for this fiscal year, but not before voting down a provision originally inserted by the chamber's majority leader related to fracking. The House gave its final approval to the measure, which contains $275,000 to run a state panel working to change academic standards and to ensure special funds to pay for state officials working to clean up coal ash ponds. Trouble came for Majority Leader Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, when colleagues voted to reconsider a floor amendment he offered Monday that passed with little debate.

  • Governor Doug Ducey signs bill to give tax credits to Apple

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    PHOENIX (AP) — Governor Doug Ducey has signed a bill granting Apple renewable tax credits and tax exemptions for the $2 billion data center it plans to open in Mesa. The House and the Senate swiftly passed the proposal through the Legislature before landing on the governor's desk. Ducey signed the bill Tuesday, saying the incentives improve Arizona's ability to attract high-wage companies and compete globally. He called the bill a huge win for Arizona that will have a ripple effect on state businesses. House Speaker David Gowan and Senate President Andy Biggs sponsored House Bill 2670 extending a $5 million tax credit to international operations centers that build renewable energy facilities. The bill also exempts the

  • Dempsey says Iranian hand in Iraq could turn out well

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran's direct support for an Iraqi push to dislodge the Islamic State group from the northern city of Tikrit could turn out to be "a positive thing" if it does not inflame sectarian tensions, the top U.S. general said Tuesday. The statement by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reflected the delicate balance Washington is trying to strike between limiting Iranian influence and allowing Iraqi leaders to determine their own path to defeating the Islamic State. U.S. officials have said Iraq did not ask the U.S. to provide air support for the Tikrit offensive, even though the U.S.-led military coalition has been conducting airstrikes in much of Iraq since August and has deployed hundre

  • Midstates Petroleum opts to delay release of fourth quarter and full 2014 results

    BY ROD WALTON, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    Midstates Petroleum Co., the oil and gas producer that moved its headquarters from Houston to Tulsa late last year, has delayed the earnings report that was due out Tuesday. The company also will put off its conference call which was scheduled for Wednesday. Midstates delayed those releases “to allow for more time to finalize its year-end financial results,” according to a statement on its website. “A press release will be forthcoming about its rescheduled earnings date.” The downturn in crude oil prices has hit Midstates Petroleum particularly hard in what was already a difficult time for the producer. Midstates’ stock value has dropped down nearly to $1 per share as of Tuesday, compared with a year-long high of $7.16 in June. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • John Stancavage: What's driving the price of gasoline?

    BY JOHN STANCAVAGE, Tulsa World | Published: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    The retail gasoline market is entering its annual crazy period where prices spike no matter what crude prices and drivers are doing. A recent 10-cent rise in pump prices in Tulsa reinforced the suspicion that such times are here again, and we're just going to have to ride them out, so to speak, until the summer driving season arrives. Gasoline here jumped to $2.25 at many retailers to start the week, while crude remained below $50 a barrel and oil supplies were at a high level. Read the rest of this story at TulsaWorld.com .

  • Wolf seeks billions in higher taxes for schools, tax revamp

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — In an ambitious first budget plan, Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday proposed more than $4 billion in higher state taxes on income, sales and natural gas drilling to support a huge injection of money into schools and property tax cuts as part of an overhaul of the way public education is funded. Wolf, a Democrat, is also asking a wary Republican-controlled Legislature to cut corporate taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, borrow more than $4 billion to refinance pension debt and inject new money into business loans, clean energy subsidies and water and sewer system projects. All told, new aid for education, plus money to reduce school property taxes, would amount to more than $4 billion.

  • Kansas House panel to have briefing on spike in earthquakes

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A legislative committee will review data about a spike in small earthquakes in Kansas in recent years and ways to lessen their number, amid concerns they are tied to a process used in drilling for hard-to-reach deposits of oil and natural gas, the panel's chairman says. Rep. Dennis Hedke, a Wichita Republican, said Tuesday that he hopes the briefing he's planning for the House Energy and Environment Committee will reassure residents in south-central Kansas, where the earthquakes have been concentrated. He has not set a date for the hearing but said it will be soon. More than half of the earthquakes recorded in Kansas since 1977 — 232 of 424 — occurred after the start of 2013, according to records com

  • Xcel requests rate increases in Colorado for natural gas

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    DENVER (AP) — Xcel Energy says it will ask Colorado's utility regulator to OK rate increases of around 3 percent for this year and the next two, saying it needs the money to pay for new pipes and other steps to improve safety and reliability. In a news release Tuesday, Xcel says typical residential customers would see their monthly bill increase less than $2 each year, and small-business owners would see a monthly bill increase of less than $7 each year. The Public Utilities Commission usually acts about seven months after such a request has been filed. Xcel expected to file its request late Tuesday. The company says its focus on safety includes work to speed replacement of older pipes and improve its ability to ident

  • SolarCity sues SRP over new fee for rooftop solar customers

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    PHOENIX (AP) — A major player in the rooftop solar industry said Tuesday that it's suing Salt River Project for adopting new fees for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels. San Mateo, California-based SolarCity Corp. said in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix that SRP's average $50 per month fee on new solar installations would essentially eliminate the incentive to put solar panels on a home. The lawsuit calls the Arizona utility's action a violation of federal anti-trust laws because the fees keep homeowners from competing against a utility they must rely on for power during hours of darkness. "SRP has a simple strategy to destroy the competitive threat from SolarCity and other competitors: Unde

  • House bill offers smaller NC gas tax reduction than Senate

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Motorists would see a small price drop at the pump in the House version of gas tax legislation pushed through two committees Tuesday by Republicans. The decrease isn't as deep as Senate counterparts want, but both reductions eliminate an even greater cut expected this summer if lawmakers did nothing. The House finance and budget-writing committees voted separately to reduce the tax by 1.5 cents per gallon — from 37.5 cents to 36 cents — starting April 1 through the end of the year. The state would then keep using the current formula, based in part on wholesale prices, to recalculate the tax annually. Currently it's changed twice a year. The Senate proposal approved three weeks ago would cause a 2.

  • Auto industry slows for bad weather, but stays on course

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    DETROIT (AP) — February threw snowstorms and other roadblocks at the auto industry, but U.S. sales of new cars and trucks are still poised to hit their highest level in more than a decade this year. Freezing temperatures, disruptions at West Coast ports and rising gas prices took a bite out of U.S. auto sales last month. Still, most automakers reported gains, and analysts say lost sales should be made up as the weather warms in March. "We've already put February in the rear-view mirror," said Ken Cataldo, the general manager of Colonial Volkswagen of Medford, Massachusetts, who spent much of last month cleaning snow off the cars on his lot. Toyota and Subaru reported double-digit sales increases over last February, an

  • 'Cowboyistan' is key to oil boom, Hamm says

    By Adam Wilmoth, Energy Editor | Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    Oklahoma wildcatter Harold Hamm on Monday touted rigs, rednecks and royalties for the success of “Cowboyistan,” which he called the driving force behind the recent domestic oil boom.

  • ND lawmakers trickle back to Capitol before recess ends

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A handful of North Dakota lawmakers began trickling in to the state Capitol on Tuesday, a day before the Legislature's five-day recess ends to get a head start on the session's second half. But most lawmakers, skittish over slumping oil prices, are in hurry-up-and-wait mode. They believe work on most major spending bills will be idled until new oil tax revenue projections are released later this month. "No real decisions are going to be made until then," said Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. When the Legislature resumes Wednesday in what's known as "crossover," Senate members will begin working on House bills, and vice versa.

  • Wisniewski slams plan to borrow for transportation needs

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — If New Jersey continues its decades-old pattern of borrowing money to fund transportation infrastructure projects, it will jeopardize its ability to do the same in the future, a legislator told a group of business leaders Tuesday. Assembly Transportation Committee chairman John Wisniewski said the state must identify a dedicated source of funding for the Transportation Trust Fund. The fund is due to run out of money in June. Last week, Gov. Chris Christie said the state can use authorized but unissued bonds to pay for road, bridge and tunnel work and repair in fiscal year 2016.

  • US running out of room to store oil; price collapse next?

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. has so much crude that it is running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months. For the past seven weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the country's main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, the Energy Department reported last week. If this keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits, known in the industry as "tank tops," by mid-April and send the price of crude — and probably gasoline, too — plum

  • Highlights of Gov. Tom Wolf's first state budget proposal

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Highlights of Gov. Tom Wolf's spending plan for the budget year that starts July 1: __ THE BIG PICTURE —Increases spending through the state's main bank account by about 3 percent to $29.9 billion. Figure is $33.7 billion, a 16 percent hike, if payments to school pension fund and property tax relief earmarked for 2016-17 are also figured in. — Raises taxes by over $4 billion on income, sales, natural gas drilling, banks and tobacco. The amount of money in collections would rise to more than $5 billion once the higher tax rates are in force for a full fiscal year. — Delivers new property tax relief of $3.

  • Oil glut at a glance: Where the US stores its oil

    Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    A glut of crude oil has pushed the amount of crude in the U.S. to record levels. Here are the biggest crude storage fields in the U.S., and how much they can hold, according to the market data provider Genscape. Cushing, Oklahoma, 82 million barrels Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, 67 million barrels Houston, Texas, 36 million barrels Beaumont-Nederland, Texas, 30 million barrels St.

  • Groups call for Oklahoma attorney general to be more involved in $1.1 billion Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. case

    By Paul Monies, Business Writer | Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    Some consumer and environmental groups are calling for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be more involved in a $1.1 billion plan by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. for environmental compliance and for the replacement of an aging generating plant. A hearing before an administrative law judge will start Tuesday at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.