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US DOT eliminates $1.7 billion annual paperwork burden for trucking industry
U.S. Department of Transportation
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced that, effective Dec. 18 professional truck drivers will no longer have to comply with a burdensome daily paperwork requirement, saving the trucking industry an estimated $1.7 billion annually without compromising safety.
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Legislative Updates



Maine regulators agree to trim Summit Natural Gas fine from $100,000 to $25,000
The Forecaster
Summit Natural Gas of Maine has agreed to pay one-fourth of a fine proposed by Maine Public Utilities Commission staff to resolve a charge that the company did not make sure its contractors and workers were qualified to perform some pipeline installation tasks. Regulators had suggested a penalty of $100,000 for the training violations.
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Collins criticized for proposal to ease rest rules for truckers
The Associated Press via Portland Press Herald
Sen. Susan Collins' effort to relax some rest rules for truck drivers is drawing fierce criticism from safety advocates, but Maine's Republican senator says the current regulations have had unintended consequences. Currently, drivers are limited to 60 hours on the road in seven days or 70 hours over eight days. A driver can take a 34-hour break to restart the clock on their work week, but it has had to include at least two consecutive overnight rest periods between 1 and 5 a.m.
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Natural gas expansion hits obstacles
Oil & Energy Online
Natural gas pipeline companies and utilities are pressing ahead with their efforts to expand natural gas supply in New England while also hitting some bumps in road. In Connecticut, where Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is promoting a plan to add 900 miles of new gas pipelines and convert 280,000 homes from Oilheat to gas heat, expansion is proving difficult, according to Christian Herb, President of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association. A pipeline expansion plan in West Haven has stalled because the utility has been unable to secure enough customer pledges to convert. Pipeline expansion in the town of Manchester has also stalled, according to Herb.
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King appointed to Senate energy oversight panel
Portland Press Herald
Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King recently announced that he has been chosen to serve on a committee that oversees national energy policy and electricity markets. According to a press statement, a Democratic selection panel assigned King to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for the 114th Congress. King, who caucuses with Democrats, said in a prepared statement that he worked with Democratic leadership to secure the appointment.
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Company providing natural gas to Cumberland, Falmouth, Yarmouth taps Ohio man as new president
The Forecaster
The utility bringing natural gas service to Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth has announced a change in leadership. Summit Natural Gas of Maine named Mike Tanchuk president, effective Jan. 1, 2015, according to a company press release. He will replace Mike Minkos, who is retiring. Tanchuk, who already works as an adviser to Summit, will also be executive vice president of Summit Utilities, and direct all strategies and operations for Summit Natural Gas of Maine, according to the press release.
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Industry Headlines



7 habits of people with remarkable mental toughness
Inc. via Business Insider
Successful people are great at withstanding temptation. Successful people are great at overcoming fear in order to do what they need to do. (Of course, that doesn't mean they aren't scared — that does mean they're brave. Big difference.) Successful people don't just prioritize: They consistently keep doing what they have decided is most important. All those qualities require mental strength and toughness — so it's no coincidence those are some of the qualities of remarkably successful people.
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Gas supply expected to match global need
The Associated Press via Portland Press Herald
North America, once a sponge that sucked in a significant portion of the world's oil, will instead be supplying the world with oil and other liquid hydrocarbons by the end of this decade, according to ExxonMobil's annual long-term energy forecast.
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Heating system replacement at Hebron Station School discussed
Oxford Hills Sun Journal
A recommendation to replace the oil-fired boiler at Hebron Station School is expected to go before the SAD 17 board of directors for approval as early as Monday, Dec. 15. The expected recommendation is to purchase a propane boiler. SAD 17 directors were told in October that the oil boiler was cracked and leaking. The system was working, but the leak was expected to get worse, Superintendent Rick Colpitts said at the time.
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Maine PUC finds safety violations in Summit Natural Gas pipeline project
Portland Press Herald
Contractors working for Summit Natural Gas of Maine installed pipelines without proper qualifications, after which the company falsified a test to make it seem like the workforce had the required certifications, according to documents filed with the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Summit has agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to resolve a series of safety-violation charges made this year by the PUC. The settlement, contained in a consent agreement filed recently, stems from observations last summer. The agency's gas safety manager had recommended a $100,000 penalty.
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Natural gas expansion: Lower rates or greater dependence?
YouTube
Portland Press Herald's business editor Carol Coultas leads a roundtable discussion on Maine's natural gas issues.
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Concern regarding OPEC grows as oil prices fall
PennEnergy
Oil prices hit a new five-year low Dec. 10 following the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' reduced crude oil production estimates for 2015, USA Today reported. The price of Brent crude oil fell 3.3 percent to settle at $64.62 and Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude declined 3.9 percent to $61.36.
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That all-electric car may not be so green after all
The Associated Press via Portland Press Herald
People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming. Ethanol isn't so green, either.
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Solar advocates: Maine lagging nation in tapping sun power
Maine Public Broadcasting
Solar power advocates in Maine cite poor policy for the problem, and are calling for changes in Maine state law that will further encourage homeowners and businesses to invest in solar energy. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar is producing 36 percent more power in the U.S. than it did a year ago. Even small states, such as Vermont, are taking advantage of tax incentives designed to spur solar growth.
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Convenience Store News



NACS Vice Chairman pens op-ed on swipe fees
NACS
The Orange County Register recently published a guest opinion piece authored by NACS Vice Chairman and Treasurer, Jack Kofdarali, president of J&T Management. In the op-ed, Kofdarali described how his family came to the U.S. from Lebanon in 1980, based on the belief that "the free-market system that built the world's largest economy would be a place the family could prosper." What began with one liquor store in the 1980s has become J&T Oil Co., which operates 25 gas and convenience stores around California.
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Insurance Topics



Workers Compensation Self-Insured Trust to return $150,000 to its members
MEMA
Once again the Trust will be releasing just before Christmas a total of $150,000 to its members. Two years ago $750,000 was released. Historically since 1994 the trust has returned approximately $4.5 million dollars in surplus to its participants! This remarkable record is a testimony to the commitment made by participating companies to work hard at increasing workplace safety and reducing the incidence and severity of workplace injuries by implementing safety programs and other safety measures which have directly resulted in an improved loss record.
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MEMA's Health Trust enters 3rd year without a rate increase — no plan changes
MEMA
The MEMA Health Trust will be renewing on 1/1/15. In the past two years there has been a rate decrease and a rate hold. Again for 1/1/15 there is yet another rate hold unheard of outside the trust. Are you struggling with age-banded rates? Do yourself a favor and look at the Trust's plan designs and rates where there is no age banding. There are four PPO Plans through Anthem as well as a two dental options (rate reduction in 2015), vision and life. MEMA handles all the billing for you, helps solve Claims issues and helps you with compliance. Give us a census, and we will give you a quote. Call and ask for Robin at 207-729-5298 for more info.
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LAST WEEK'S MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    U.S. DOT plans rule to hike insurance requirements for cargo tank vehicles (MEMA)
Summit Natural Gas falls behind on its goals (Portland Press Herald)
Why did NORAD start tracking Santa? (Mental Floss)
Plunging gas and heating oil prices have changed this winter's home heating calculation (Bangor Daily News)
US natural gas production to plateau by 2020? (PennEnergy)

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MEMA Randoms
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601
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Christina Nava, Content Editor Intern, 469.420.2612  
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