- - Thursday, November 3, 2011


BP to pay Texas $50M for refinery pollution

HOUSTON | Oil company BP has agreed to pay Texas $50 million for air pollution violations at a Gulf Coast refinery where a 2005 explosion killed 15 workers, the state’s attorney general announced Thursday.

The settlement between BP Products North America and the state of Texas resolves 72 emissions violations starting in 2005, Attorney General Greg Abbott told a Houston news conference. The violations include some that contributed to the massive explosion six years ago at the Texas City refinery.

The settlement’s announcement comes as BP PLC struggles to resolve issues surrounding an April 2010 explosion at an offshore rigging platform that killed 11 people and caused the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

It also comes just a few months after the company indicated a desire to sell the Texas City refinery. The agreement could make it easier for the company to find a buyer, because its pollution liabilities with the state have been settled. In August 2010, BP reached a $50.6 million settlement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to correct safety violations after the 2005 explosion. At the time, OSHA indicated it was also trying to force the company to pay an additional $30 million in fines.

BP said in a statement it was pleased with the settlement.


Court tosses $43M award against Ford

ST. LOUIS | The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed a jury’s $43 million award against Ford Motor Co. for a fiery crash near Granite City, Ill., that killed a man and disfigured his wife.

John and Dora Jablonski were headed home to Florissant, Mo., in July 2003 when they were hit from behind. A pipe wrench in the trunk pierced the gas tank of the Jablonskis’ 1993 Lincoln Town Car.

Attorney Brad Lakin contended the design of the car, with its fuel tank behind the rear axle, caused the fire. He said Ford should have warned owners or retrofitted the vehicles with safety devices.

The Supreme Court ruled Illinois law doesn’t require a company to warn of defects not detected before the product left the manufacturer.

Mr. Lakin couldn’t be reached for comment.


Amazon unveils lending library for Kindles

NEW YORK | Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday that it is starting a lending library for Kindle owners, letting them borrow one electronic book per month.

Borrowers have to subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service, which provides free two-day shipping and streaming movies for $79 per year.

Amazon says the library has more than 5,000 books, including current bestsellers such as Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy.

The six biggest publishers - Random House, HarperColllins, Penguin, MacMillan, Simon & Schuster and Hachette - aren’t participating. The “Big Six” have fought with Amazon over whether the publisher or Amazon gets to set the retail price of books.

Amazon says it’s paying the participating publishers for the right to lend books, usually for a fixed fee. In some cases, it’s paying the wholesale price every time a book is checked out.

The books can’t be read on phones, PCs or tablet computers, even though there are Kindle apps for these devices. That restriction is reminiscent of Amazon’s strategy of a few years ago, when the company restricted purchased books to being read on Kindles to drive sales of the e-reader devices.

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