House offers locks funding
Legislation to provide more funds to repair and replace the nation's aging system of river locks and dams was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday. The proposal by Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., is similar to a measure introduced in the Senate by Bob Casey, D-Pa. The House version calls for increasing a diesel fuel tax that barge operators pay from 20 cents to 26 cents per gallon. Mr. Casey proposed raising it to 29 cents. About 550 million tons of coal, grain and other commodities move through the locks each year. More than half of the locks are more than 50 years old, with the Pittsburgh region having some of the oldest.
CMU entrepreneur programs
Carnegie Mellon University will merge two of its entrepreneurial programs, Project Olympus and the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, into the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The new center aims to make CMU a top choice for entrepreneurs, create new approaches to commercialization and develop a network of alumni entrepreneurs.
Consol buys mine equipment
Consol Energy announced Thursday it was purchasing nearly $300 million worth of Caterpillar equipment for four longwall mines located throughout Appalachia. The Cecil-based coal and natural gas firm said the equipment includes safety systems and more than 1,100 roof supports, and should be delivered sometime this year.
February inflation mild overall
A measure of U.S. wholesale prices rose in February by the most in five months, pushed higher by more expensive gasoline and pharmaceuticals. But outside those increases, inflation was mild. The producer price index grew a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in February from January, the Labor Department said. That's up from 0.2 percent in the previous month. Wholesale gasoline prices increased 7.2 percent. Even with the increase, wholesale prices have risen just 1.7 percent in the past 12 months.
Student loan safeguards
The government's consumer finance watchdog wants stricter oversight of companies that collect and log student loan payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the scrutiny is needed because the market is growing rapidly and more people are falling behind on their payments. The bureau already supervises student loan collections by big banks. The proposal is open for public comment for the next 60 days.
Kennametal CEO on council
Carlos Cardoso, chairman, president and CEO of Latrobe tool maker Kennametal, has been appointed to the Commerce Department's U.S. Manufacturing Council, which advises the department on policy issues.
Zippo ends offensive lighters
Zippo's German distributor is withdrawing a number of lighters bearing militaristic designs after they showed up on an extremist website that sells anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi clothing and accessories. Zippo Manufacturing Co. is the Bradford, Pa., company that produced the offensive lighters. Zippo says it had no idea the designs carried a negative connotation and apologized for bringing the lighters to market. One lighter bears the image of a soldier and the word "Landser." That's an old German word for foot soldier, but also the name of a German neo-Nazi rock band whose members were convicted of hate crimes a decade ago.
Complaint against Comcast
Action United Pittsburgh, an East Liberty-based community advocacy organization, filed a consumer complaint with the FCC against Comcast's Internet Essentials program. The complaint claims Philadelphia-based Comcast is not meeting guidelines to offer low-cost Internet service to eligible customers. Comcast officials declined comment.
Drop in sugar prices risky
With sugar prices falling 38 percent in the past year, government officials are scrambling to minimize a potential hit to taxpayers. U.S. sugar policies, which date to the 1930s, allow producers to "forfeit" their crop to the government rather than repay federal loans when sugar prices drop below certain levels. With some sugar prices recently dipping below those levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now at risk of becoming the owner of millions of pounds of sugar.
Honda recall for brakes
Honda is recalling nearly 250,000 vehicles worldwide for brakes that can suddenly kick in even when the driver isn't braking. No crashes have been reported related to the defect. Honda Motor Co. said it was recalling more than 183,000 vehicles in the U.S., including the Acura RL, Acura MDX and Pilot models. The vehicles were produced from March 2004 through May 2006.