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Duke Energy seeks to keep records from regulators PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press MITCH WEISS, Associated Press   
Saturday, 29 March 2014 07:34

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Worried about getting a fair shake from investigators, Duke Energy is asking a judge to shield its records from North Carolina regulators and environmental groups while a federal criminal probe is ongoing.

In a court motion, a defense lawyer for Duke argued that turning over records demanded as part of state lawsuits over the company's coal ash dumps could hurt the investigation's integrity, especially if the documents were to become public.

Federal prosecutors have issued at least 23 subpoenas as part of a widening criminal probe triggered by the Feb. 2 spill at Duke's plant in Eden, which coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. Duke has received two of the subpoenas, which order the company to provide reams of documents to a grand jury that has convened in Raleigh.

Federal investigators are looking at whether the company received preferential treatment from the state environmental agency. Duke has nearly three dozen other ash pits spread out at 14 coal-fired power plants across the state.

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Two more recalls push GM total to 4.8 million in a month PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writers TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writers   
Saturday, 29 March 2014 07:14

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors announced two more recalls late Friday, bringing to 4.8 million the number of cars, trucks and SUVs the automaker has called back for repairs in the past month.

The string of recalls, topped by an ignition switch problem in compact cars now linked to 13 crash deaths, has embarrassed the company and sidetracked its new CEO, who started work just over two months ago. GM has admitted knowing about the switch problem a decade ago, yet it didn't recall any cars until February. The recall delay has brought two congressional investigations and probes by the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Late Friday night, GM announced it would recall 490,000 late-model pickup trucks and SUVs because transmission oil cooling lines weren't secured properly in their fittings. Transmission oil can leak from a fitting and hit hot surfaces, causing fires, the company said in a statement. GM said it knows of three fires and no injuries.

The recall affects Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks from the 2014 model year, as well as 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe SUVs and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs. All have six-speed automatic transmissions.

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U.S. government: Industry hampering oil train safety PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press   
Saturday, 29 March 2014 07:21

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. transportation officials rebuked the oil industry Friday for not giving up information regulators say they need to gauge the danger of moving crude by rail, after several accidents highlighted the explosive properties of fuel from the booming oil shale fields on the Northern Plains.

Department of Transportation officials told The Associated Press they have received only limited data on the characteristics of oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana despite requests lodged by Secretary Anthony Foxx more than two months ago.

"The overall and ongoing lack of cooperation is disappointing, slows progress and certainly raises concerns," the agency said in a statement. "We still lack data we requested and that energy stakeholders agreed to produce within 30 days."

The DOT said "a handful of individual companies" have offered the information being sought but would not provide specifics.

Representatives from the American Petroleum Institute refuted the foot-dragging accusation.

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U.S. consumer spending up modest 0.3 percent PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer   
Friday, 28 March 2014 09:46

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans spent slightly more in February but the gain still left consumer spending growing at a modest pace, held back by severe winter weather.

Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in February following a 0.2 percent rise in January, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The spending increases would have been even weaker except for a surge in spending on utility bills. In February, spending on durable goods such as autos actually dropped as consumers stayed away from auto dealerships. Service spending, which covers utility payments, rose.

Analysts say consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, slowed significantly in the current quarter and will depress overall economic growth. But they are looking for a rebound in the second quarter.

The report showed that after-tax income was up 0.3 percent in February, the same as in January.

The saving rate edged up slightly to 4.3 percent of after-tax income compared to January, when the saving rate was 4.2 percent.

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