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None of the commuter jets that flew close together near Washington was ever on course to collide head-on with the others, federal officials said Thursday.

During a press conference, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood strongly disputed media reports characterizing the incident as a near-miss.

“At no point were the three aircraft on a head-to-head course. They were not on a collision course,” said Michael Huerta, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The incident occurred Tuesday because of a miscommunication between a manager at Potomac Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control and two traffic management coordinators at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Mr. Huerta said. Officials are investigating. The exact nature of the miscommunication was not immediately clear, but there was apparently a failure on both ends to follow standard procedure.

The mishap happened at a time when traffic controllers were changing the landing and take-off directions of planes at the airport because of bad weather including several thunderstorms, the closest being about 6 miles to the south.

Both Mr. LaHood and Mr. Huerta praised the work of air traffic controllers to quickly set the US Airways planes on another path once they learned they were too close together. Mr. Huerta said the planes were on different headings at different altitudes, thus never would have collided.


Experts say governor’s claims overestimated

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s claim that a single energy company could recover $1 trillion worth of oil and gas from the state’s shale is an exorbitant overestimate, according to experts interviewed by the Associated Press.

At current oil prices, that figure represents more than four times U.S. oil production last year. Viewed another way, every drop of oil produced in America for the next four years will be worth roughly $800 billion, based on current prices and production rates.

“I think he’s way off base,” said Arthur Berman, a Texas-based petroleum geologist and independent energy consultant. “My best estimate is he’s probably wrong by a couple of zeroes.”

U.S. crude oil production in 2011 was 2.078 billion barrels. At roughly $100 a barrel, that’s $200 billion worth of oil.

The revenue potential of newly accessible deposits of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids under the state is important because Mr. Kasich is pursuing an increase in a state tax that large-volume oil and gas producers pay on what they extract. Proceeds from the tax would provide modest statewide income tax relief.

During his 2010 campaign, Mr. Kasich pledged to reduce and eventually phase out the income tax. He faces opposition to his manner of funding the reduction from the well-funded energy industry and some fellow Republicans in the state legislature.


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