Wednesday PM June 6th, 2007

BP contract worker electrocuted on the job...ExxonMobil must compensate New Jersey for lost recreational opportunities from waterfront contamination...Dell plans to cut its global carbon emissions by 15 percent in five years...

BP says a contract worker at the British oil giant's Texas City refinery has died on the job. The worker's name hasn't been released yet. BP says he worked for Amex Electrical Services and was electrocuted Tuesday while working on an idle unit being reconditioned for a restart. BP says it immediately began an investigation and notified authorities--including the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA has six months to investigate. The Texas City refinery was the site of a 2005 explosion that killed 15 people and injured 170. That was the worst U.S. industrial accident since 1990.


ExxonMobil is dealt a legal setback by a New Jersey appeals court. The court says the Irving-based oil company must compensate New Jersey for lost recreational opportunities stemming from contamination at waterfront refineries. ExxonMobil has been implementing a cleanup since 1991. But state environmental regulators say the company should also pay for the loss of natural resource uses due to pollution at its Linden and Bayonne refineries. Those uses include fishing and bird-watching. The appeals court says the case is the first time New Jersey courts have considered damages for the loss of use of natural resources because of pollution under New Jersey's Spill Compensation and Control Act.


Cyclone Gonu has left its mark on Oman's coast and is now expected to make landfall in southeastern Iran. In Oman, the storm's fierce winds and torrential rains forced thousands of people from their homes. It's also causing headaches for oil suppliers. The storm has caused raging seas that prevented tankers from sailing from ports in Oman. An oil official says as a result, Oman's oil exports have been effectively shut down. To the north, officials have suspended refueling and supply operations at a port in the United Arab Emirates. However, a Gulf Agency official says in spite of strong winds and huge waves, a few ships are sailing through the nearby Strait of Hormuz. About one-fifth of the world's oil passes through the narrow waterway. Forecasters say as of late morning, the storm's maximum winds had dropped to about 80 miles-an-hour.


Round Rock-based Dell says it plans to cut its global carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2012. Dell says it plans to become the world's most environmentally-friendly technology company. The number-two personal computer maker says it's asking its suppliers to provide data on greenhouse gas emissions, and will work with the companies to reduce those levels.


The heads of U.S. auto companies have been making their case before Congressional leaders looking for ways help motorists deal with gas prices that have topped $3 a gallon. Top officials with Ford, GM and Chrysler are trying to get lawmakers to revisit a plan to increase fuel efficiency standards. They say the increases could hurt their businesses. They're also discussing the impact of health care, trade and energy policies on their companies. GM Chairman Rick Wagoner says that while an increase in the cafe standard seems likely, the industry wants congress to fix the "real problems,'' too. Next week, the Senate is expected to consider a plan to raise the corporate average fuel economy standards for vehicles. The proposal would raise the standards to a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon for cars and trucks by 2020—an increase of about ten miles per gallon. The automakers discussed the impact the provision could have on health care, trade and energy policies for their companies. They urged lawmakers to consider alternatives.


The Federal Trade Commission will sue to try to prevent natural foods grocer Whole Foods Market from acquiring competing Wild Oats markets. The lawsuit is expected to argue the marketplace is defined by natural and organic food stores and not the broader supermarket industry. The FTC confirmed it will seek to block the deal in court. Regulators say if the transaction is allowed to proceed, Austin-based Whole Foods is likely to raise prices and reduce quality and services. The planned purchase comes as the natural food retailers face increasing competition from traditional supermarkets. Whole Foods in February offered to acquire Wild Oats for $565 million. The deal would include assuming about $106 million in debt. Whole Foods has extended the expiration date for its tender offer to June 20th.


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