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Obama energy plan: Cut oil imports by a third

President Obama will focus on energy security amid high gasoline prices. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

President Barack Obama set an ambitious goal Wednesday to cut U.S. oil imports by a third over 10 years, focusing on a source of anxiety for Americans as high gasoline prices threaten economic recovery.

Obama outlined his strategy in a speech after spending days explaining U.S.-led military action in Libya, where fighting, accompanied by unrest elsewhere in the Arab world, has helped push U.S. gasoline prices toward $4 a gallon. Get the full story »

BP shares hit after report of oil spill charges

Shares in oil major BP fell on Tuesday on a report that its managers could face manslaughter charges following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which could lead to much higher fines over the disaster. Get the full story »

U.S. gasoline demand flat in latest week

U.S retail gasoline demand was flat last week but fell from year-earlier levels as higher prices pressured demand while an improved employment outlook provided support, MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse report showed Tuesday. Get the full story »

Nicor CEO to receive $850,000 in restricted stock

From Crain’s Chicago Business | Naperville-based natural gas utility Nicor Inc. has granted CEO Russ Strobel 16,020 shares of restricted stock per a long-term incentive plan, but Mr. Strobel will be able to cash them within months. The shares will be convertible to cash immediately when Nicor’s $2.4-billion sale to AGL Resources Inc. closes later this year.

Coalition to rally against utility-rate legislation

A coalition fighting state legislation that would set utility rates by formula will hold a rally at 1 p.m. Monday at Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side. Get the full story »

Update: Illinois has enough anti-radiation drugs

If a nuclear reactor were to melt down in Illinois, the state has enough potassium iodide on hand to distribute to residents living within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency said Friday.

A top official with the agency had said earlier at a public forum hosted by U.S. Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin that there weren’t enough tablets on hand.

An IEMA spokeswoman clarified Friday, saying that the agency has 90,000 tablets on hand for first responders and 175,000 tablets on-hand to distribute to the public. She said about 180,000 people total live within 10 miles of a nuclear reactor in Illinois. Joseph Klinger, the assistant director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency misspoke when he said 180,000 people on average live within 10 miles of each nuclear plant in Illinois. Get the full story »

Exelon unable to quantify quake costs

The U.S. nuclear industry will see a “significant” increase in operating and regulatory costs following the Japanese nuclear emergency, but the magnitude won’t be known for several months, the head of the largest fleet of U.S. nuclear reactors said on Thursday. Get the full story »

ATC proposes power line from Wis. to Zion

American Transmission Co. wants to build a $20 million power line from Pleasant Prairie and Zion, Ill. Get the full story »

U.S. retail gas demand up 1.7% in latest week

A BP station at Ashland and Fullerton in Chicago, March 7, 2011. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

U.S. retail gasoline demand rose 1.7 percent last week but remained below year-earlier levels, MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse report showed Tuesday.

Average gasoline demand by the world’s top consumer hit 9.3 million barrels per day in the week to March 18, the report showed, the second straight week of gains. Get the full story »

US Airways latest to cut flights over oil prices

A US Airways ticket counter at O'Hare, April 8, 2010. (Tim Boyle/Bloomberg)

Major U.S. airlines announced further 2011 capacity cutbacks to cope with the dramatic increase in fuel prices, with Delta Air Lines Inc. also citing the earthquake in Japan for a hit to earnings in the current quarter.

US Airways Group Inc. said it would reduce flying this year, joining United Continental Holdings and other carriers that have outlined capacity curbs. Get the full story »

U.S. approves 3 deepwater wells in Gulf of Mexico

U.S. regulators Monday approved a Royal Dutch Shell PLC plan to drill three exploratory wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Interior Department’s green light for the wells in Shell’s Auger field marks the first time U.S. regulators have approved a new deepwater well in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon explosion last April and subsequent oil spill.

U.S. plans more nuclear inspections after Japan

U.S. nuclear regulators are launching additional inspections and considering a 90-day review of the country’s 104 nuclear reactors in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis, officials said Monday. Get the full story »

Quinn to seek higher fees on nuclear generators

Gov. Pat Quinn says he plans to seek higher fees on power generator Exelon Corp. to ensure the safety of Illinois nuclear power plants in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

Survey ranks Chicago-area natural gas companies below others in Midwest

Natural gas utilities for Northern Illinois and Chicago are making their business customers a little happier than last year, but they still rank below many others in the Midwest, according to a customer satisfaction study by J.D. Power and Associates.

Nicor Gas, which serves northern Illinois, rose 15 points on the index, and now ranks 13th among 21 Midwestern gas utilities. Peoples Gas, which serves Chicago, rose 3 points, but remained toward the bottom, landing at No. 20. Both came in below the Midwest average. Get the full story »

Stocks sink on warning of ‘catastrophic events’

U.S. stocks sank deeper into the red on Wednesday after the European Union’s energy chief warned of “possible catastrophic events” at Japan’s nuclear plants.

Swinging in choppy trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 99 points, or 0.8 percent, to 11756, with all but two of its 30 components in the red. Get the full story »