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Obama-Power Plants

Climate change: Obama orders steeper cuts from power plants

WASHINGTON — Aiming to jolt the rest of the world to action, President Barack Obama moved ahead Sunday with even tougher greenhouse gas cuts on American power plants, setting up a certain confrontation in the courts with energy producers and Republican-led states. In finalizing the unprecedented pollution controls, Obama was installing the core of his ambitious and controversial plan to drastically reduce overall U.S. emissions, as he works to secure a legacy on fighting global warming. Yet it will be up to Obama’s successor to implement his plan, which reverberated across the 2016 presidential campaign trail. Opponents planned to sue immediately, and to ask the courts to block the rule temporarily. Many states have threatened not to comply. The Obama administration estimated the emissions limits will cost $8.4 billion annually by 2030. The actual price won’t be clear until states decide how they’ll reach their targets. But energy industry advocates said the revision makes Obama’s mandate even more burdensome, costly and difficult to achieve. “They are wrong,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said flatly, accusing opponents of promulgating a “doomsday” scenario. Last year, the Obama administration proposed the first greenhouse gas limits on existing power plants in U.S. history, triggering a yearlong review and more than 4 million public comments. On Monday, Obama was to unveil the final rule publicly at an event at the White House. “Climate change is not a problem for another generation,” Obama said in a video posted to Facebook. “Not anymore.” The final version imposes stricter carbon dioxide limits on states than was previously expected: a 32 percent cut by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, the White House said. Obama’s proposed version last year called only for a 30 percent cut. Immediately, Obama’s plan became a point of controversy in the 2016 presidential race, with Hillary Rodham Clinton voicing her strong support and using it to criticize her GOP opponents for failing to offer a credible alternative. “It’s a good plan, and as president, I’d defend it,” Clinton said. On the Republican side, Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, predicted increases in electricity bills would be “catastrophic,” while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the rule “irresponsible and overreaching.” “Climate change will not be solved by grabbing power from states or slowly hollowing out our economy,” Bush said. Obama’s rule assigns customized targets to each state, then leaves it up to the state to determine how to meet them. Prodded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a number of Republican governors have said they simply won’t comply. If states refuse to submit plans, the EPA has the authority to impose its own plan, and McCarthy said the administration would release a model federal plan that states could adopt right away. Another key change to the initial proposal marks a major shift for Obama on natural gas, which the president has championed as a “bridge fuel” whose growing use can help the U.S. wean itself off dirtier coal power while ramping up renewable energy capacity. The final version aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation’s power mix at current levels. Under the final rule, states will also have an additional two years — until 2022 — to comply, yielding to complaints that the original deadline was too soon. They’ll also have an additional year to submit their implementation plans to Washington. In an attempt to encourage earlier action, the federal government plans to offer credits to states that boost renewable sources like wind and solar in 2020 and 2021. States could store those credits away to offset pollution emitted after the compliance period starts in 2022. Twenty to 30 states were poised to join the energy industry in suing over the rule as soon as it’s formally published, said Scott Segal, a lobbyist with the firm Bracewell and Giuliani who represents utilities. The Obama administration has a mixed track record in fending off legal challenges to its climate rules. GOP leaders in Congress were also weighing various legislative maneuvers to try to block the rule. The National Mining Association lambasted the plan and said it would ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s executive director, said in an interview that his organization planned to hold public rallies, put pressure on individual coal plants and “intervene as necessary in the courts” to defend the rule. By clamping down on emissions, Obama is also working to increase his leverage and credibility with other nations whose commitments he’s seeking for a global climate treaty to be finalized later this year in Paris. As its contribution to that treaty, the U.S. has pledged to cut overall emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005. “We’re positioning the United States as an international leader on climate change,” said Brian Deese, Obama’s senior adviser. Power plants account for roughly one-third of all U.S. emissions of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming, making them the largest single source.

AP Poll Taxes

Healthcare marketplace and tax credit for 2016

Taxpayers who received health insurance through the HealthCare Marketplace need to file a tax return in order to receive the Advance Premium Tax Credit for 2016. The HealthCare Marketplace offers assistance toward insurance payments for taxpayers who qualify. However, part of receiving this credit was the requirement that a tax return for 2014 be filed and the Advance Premium Tax Credit reconciled with the actual tax return. If a tax return was not filed, then the Advance Premium Tax Credit would not be available to taxpayers for the upcoming tax year. Reconciliation of the Advance Premium Tax Credit is required because the amount of the credit was based on an estimate of income when applying for healthcare through the Marketplace. The tax return verifies the actual income of the taxpayer and therefore requires the Advance Premium Tax Credit to be finalized with the tax return. Part of the oversight by the IRS for healthcare involves verifying that a tax return has been filed for those receiving assistance through the HealthCare Marketplace. This process takes time and taxpayers wanting assistance with insurance payments will find that they are not eligible for assistance for the upcoming tax year because a tax return was not filed. Taxpayers should file a tax return as soon as possible without waiting for the allowed time for an extension. Open enrollment for healthcare for 2016 from the HealthCare Marketplace begins Nov. 1. At a recent IRS Forum in Denver, it was stressed that taxpayers who have not filed a tax return and reconciled the Advance Premium Tax Credit would not be able to get the credit for 2016. Even when a tax return is electronically filed it takes several weeks for the information to be entered into the taxpayer’s account to show that a return has been filed. There are many taxpayers who requested extensions, which gives them until Oct. 15 to file a return. However, because the HealthCare Marketplace relies on information from the IRS, waiting until the deadline, may cause the Advance Premium Tax Credit to be denied. The Advance Premium Tax Credit provides assistance to taxpayers who get their insurance through the marketplace. An important part of the Affordable Care Act was the creation of subsidies. Subsidies -- officially known as the “Advanced Premium Tax Credit” -- are like “discounts” that are applied directly to your health care costs. These discounts help make the monthly premium affordable to taxpayers. A taxpayer can choose to receive the discount monthly, which is applied to the amount of the insurance, or wait until filing the tax return. If a taxpayer waits until the tax return is filed, the amount of the Advance Premium Tax Credit is applied to the tax return and helps to reduce a tax liability or increases the amount of a refund the taxpayer may receive. Most taxpayers have the credit applied to the monthly insurance payment. Not having the credit available to reduce the monthly insurance premium may make it difficult for taxpayers to comply with having insurance for 2016. This could subject the taxpayer with having to pay a Shared Responsibility Payment when filing the tax return. If a taxpayer who received insurance through the HealthCare Marketplace hasn’t filed the 2014 tax return, it is important to file this return as soon as possible. Tracy Bunner is an enrolled agent and tax preparer with an office in Harrisville. She can be reached at 801-686-1995 or at

Harmons Wangsgards File Art 01

Economic impact of Harmons-Ridley's deal debated

OGDEN — In the dark with everyone else, city officials hope the recently announced Harmons-Ridley’s transaction will preserve the retail economy in the Five Points area. Harmons in September will leave its Five Points store and Ridley’s will move in. Ridley’s also owns Wangsgard’s, across the street. Will Ridley’s keep both stores open? “To my knowledge, they (Ridley’s) haven’t talked to anyone at the city,” Ogden City Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said. Ridley’s has yet to apply for a business license for the Harmons location. The company acquired a business license for the Wangsgards store site this spring, according to officials. The Harmons move raises questions not only for customers and employees of the stores, but the flow of sales tax revenue to the affected cities, especially Ogden. “We’re being caught off guard on this too,” Johnson said Some city officials speculate that Ridley’s will keep the Wangsgards name on that property, while placing the Ridley’s name on the Harmons store. Harrisville City Administrator Bill Morris confirmed he has heard similar rumors. But whether the two locally owned grocery stores are victims of big-box stores like Walmart, one of which that has been located about a mile down the road in Harrisville for about eight years, would be guess work. “I don’t know that we have any proof,” Johnson said regarding the idea that the Walmart in Harrisville could be siphoning customers and sales away from the Five Points markets. “Logically, it would make sense that the Harrisville Walmart must have impacted Harmons and Wangsgards.” But Utah law protects the privacy of private organizations’ tax records, so such a claim would be difficult to document. Johnson said even if he could pull individual sales tax information to look into that idea, it would be against the law for him to release it. Ogden Community and Economic Development Director Tom Christopulos said he too is curious about what Ridley’s is going to do with two grocery stores in such close proximity of each other. But Christopulos discounted the notion that the Walmart in Harrisville had anything to do with Harmons leaving, based on earlier conversations he had with store officials. Harmons officials talked to Ogden officials 18 months ago about its Five Points remodeling project, in which the store was planning to going “up-market” to reach a new, more affluent customer base, Christopulos said. Other Harmons stores have gone up-market, he said, “and they tried to do it at this store, and couldn’t get the market to follow. “Harmons recently remodeled (the store). It’s been a good market. It is just not where they are going.” Morris said the Harrisville Walmart has enjoyed consistent customer traffic. And even had Harmons or Wangsgards experienced a drain of business, Morris said it may have been a result of the Walmart store at 20th Sreet and Wall Avenue in Ogden, rather than the one in Harrisville. “We were worried the Walmart on 20th would siphon off of our Walmart in Harrisville,” Morris said. “So far,” Morris said, that does not appear to be the case. But the Harrisville Walmart does have to contend with the new Smith’s Marketplace store that recently opened at 2700 North in North Ogden. “They are all my favorites,” Utah Food Industry Association and Utah Retail Merchants Association vice president Kate Bradshaw said of the stores in question. Bradshaw declined to speak about Ridley’s or Harmons, or if big-box stores are hurting local grocers’ customer base. Walmart and Harmons are both members of the Utah Retail Merchants Association, while Harmons and Wangsgards are members of the Utah Food Industry Association, a sister organization to the merchants group, Bradshaw said. Ridley’s, which operates stores in Morgan and in Tremonton, is not a member of either organization, Bradshaw said. Johnson said he hopes Ridley’s keeps both the Harmons and Wangsgards stores open. Ridley’s would have to change the name of the Harmons store, he said, but he wondered if they might keep the other store operating under the Wangsgards name. “It is always sad when you lose choices and options,” Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said of the ongoing consolidation of grocery stores. “We would love to see Harmons have a continued presence in Ogden,” he said. Harmons also has stores in Roy and Farmington and more in Salt Lake and Utah counties. Reporter Becky Wright contributed to this report.    


Why dentists are so darn rich

WASHINGTON — At $50,000, the reported price of the trip that an American dentist took to Zimbabwe is nearly as shocking as the death of Cecil, the widely known and universally beloved lion he killed while he was there. The neighborhood dentist seems far removed from the upper echelons of medicine, someone who comes in for a few minutes at the end of a cleaning to check your teeth and ask about your kids, occasionally doing a filling or root canal. No doubt these services are critical to patients and our overall health, but some might be surprised to learn that a dentist could afford to spend $50,000 on a hunting expedition. It turns out, however, that dentists are quite well paid. According to official government statistics, the median dentist in the U.S. in 2012 earned $149,310 per year. But that median figure obscures variation around the country, or among dentists with different specialties. In some high priced cities, dentists make a lot of money with non-medical, cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening. And according to the American Dental Association, the average dental specialist earned $283,900 in 2013. Dentists in some places are so well compensated that they earn more than the average doctor. According to a 2012 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average hourly wage of a dentist in America is $69.60 versus $67.30 for a physician. As recently as 1996, dentists were making less than doctors. Meanwhile, according to WebMD Medscape’s annual compensation report, the average general dental practitioner took in $181,000 in 2013, compared to $175,000 for a family doctor, according to the dental association. Behind the high salaries Behind the high wages is a debate over whether Americans ought to be spending so much on dental care. Critics of the U.S. dental industry have long complained that dentists are insulated from market forces, resulting in higher prices. “They’re afraid of the competition,” said Jay Friedman, a dentist and researcher in Los Angeles who has long advocated for dental reform. He contends that to make it easier for more Americans to receive dental care, dental nurses and hygienists -- who have less training -- should be allowed to perform basic services alongside dentists. In most states, hygienists are barred from cleaning teeth unless they are employed by a dentist. One study concluded that allowing hygienists are free to offer services independently, like nurse practitioners in general medicine, reduced dentists’ incomes by 16 percent. The dentists had more competition from people whom they otherwise could have employed, forcing them to lower their prices. Not only that, but since hygienists’ options for treatment were legally limited, they might have recommended less expensive treatments, and patients would have spent less overall. Hygienists who were not allowed to perform fillings, for example, might have recommended less costly sealants instead. As it happens, Minnesota -- where the trophy hunter practices -- is one state that recently gave dental personnel besides dentists more freedom to serve patients. Minnesota recently began licensing “dental therapists,” and there were 32 people practicing with the designation in the state as of last year, according to a report from the state Department of Health. Minnesota’s law allows these therapists to clean, fill and pull teeth under the “general supervision” of a dentist, who does not have to be on site. The report found that therapists cost about half as much as dentists, which suggests that incomes for dentists in Minnesota could decline as more therapists are licensed. In response to questions about expanding the dental workforce, the American Dental Association pointed to a study claiming that the main challenge facing patients acquiring care is not the limited number of dentists but the underlying cost of receiving dental services.

National Business

Coyote Logistics

UPS to buy Coyote for $1.8 billion to ease peak cargo crunch

ATLANTA — United Parcel Service Inc. will buy Coyote Logistics in a $1.8 billion bid to jump into the freight brokerage business and improve holiday-season shipping performance. The deal could help generate additional revenue and savings of as much as $150 million, UPS said Friday, as the company expands into the business of linking customers with thousands of haulers able to do the work. UPS could also tap into Coyote’s network of 35,000 trucking companies for extra help during its crucial November-December peak season. Acquiring a freight broker that doesn’t have its own vehicles is a departure for Atlanta-based UPS. The world’s largest package-delivery company operates a fleet of 100,000 vehicles spanning trucks to motorcycles. Coyote had $2.1 billion in revenue last year, and while UPS doesn’t break out its full- truckload brokerage revenues, a spokesman, Steve Gaut, said the acquisition would accelerate those sales. “The brokered full-truckload freight segment is a high growth market and we expect it will continue to outpace other transportation segments,” UPS Chief Executive Officer David Abney said in a statement. The deal combines UPS and its 100,000 ubiquitous brown package vans and other vehicles with Coyote’s experience linking customers to a chain of 35,000 trucking companies. The partnership will help reduce the number of trips UPS drivers make without generating a return, according to Gaut. After a delivery, UPS drivers often have to go back to their starting point, sometimes without much cargo to haul. UPS makes about 7 million of these so-called empty leg trips every year. Coyote, whose clients range from food and drink companies to retailers and paper and industrial firms, should be able to help fill some of those empty trailers with customers’ goods in the future, Gaut said. While trucking companies aren’t typically seen as hip, Chicago-based Coyote has a young workforce and a fast, trading- floor feel, as employees match shippers with haulers, Gaut said. Founded in 1907, UPS is acquiring a 9-year-old company most recently owned by private-equity firm Warburg Pincus. While Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Ben Hartford speculated in a July 23 note that Coyote’s “youthful, ‘Millennial’ culture” could be a challenge for UPS to absorb, Gaut played down such concerns. “We’re going to operate this business as a subsidiary of UPS so they will keep their brand, their facilities, their secret sauce,” he said. William Blair & Co. analyst Nate Brochmann said the purchase would give UPS a foothold in an area it’s been lacking, and follows a pattern of transportation companies offering many types of services. “With better technology and visibility into supply chains today, there are now more opportunities for transportation providers to be one-stop shops,” Brochmann wrote in a July 23 note after news of a potential deal broke. The transaction would be the third-largest logistics deal this year as the industry consolidates amid rising consumer demand. In April, FedEx Corp. agreed to buy Dutch delivery company TNT Express NV for $4.8 billion. Days later, XPO Logistics Inc. agreed to acquire France’s Norbert Dentressangle SA in a deal valued at $3.53 billion including debt. UPS has focused on smaller purchases since European regulators thwarted its attempt to purchase TNT for about $6.9 billion in 2012. That same year it purchased a Belgian company, Kiala, that set up a system where customers could have packages delivered to a nearby store, instead of their homes. UPS has expanded this service under its Access Point brand, announcing earlier this week it will offer it in 100 additional U.S. cities. In June, a UPS subsidiary bought a small logistics firm serving the jewelry business called Parcel Pro. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Harmons Wangsgards File Art 02-1

Harmons, Ridley's keeping quiet on grocery store change

OGDEN — When Harmons grocery announced in mid-July that it will be leaving Ogden to be replaced by Ridley’s Family Market, the community reacted with an immediate and apprehensive uproar. Shoppers at the Harmons Five Points store wanted to know why their beloved grocer was skipping town and what they could expect from the new kid. When the Standard-Examiner first reported the upcoming change, which is set to take place in mid-September, social media chatter and speculation went wild. The original story on the change has generated nearly 2,500 shares on various social media platforms and online commenters lit up both the Standard’s website and Facebook page. Stories immediately following the initial report generated similar interest.  But while the public seems to be dying for details, the owners of the two businesses are keeping their heads down, not willing to say much about the shake-up. The Standard-Examiner requested interviews with both Bob Harmon, vice president for customers at Harmons, and Mark Ridley, director of operations for Ridley’s. The paper first contacted the pair in mid-July, but after multiple attempts, was ultimately unable to get answers from either party about the transaction and future expectations for both stores.  Initially, both entities asked that interviews be conducted via email, but Harmons officials decided not to participate after reading the questions that were submitted. Ridley’s did not respond to two different email inquiries. “We were under the impression that this was going to be a profile story on the Harmon family,” said an email from Mary Rice, a public and media relations manager working with Harmons. “This seems to have taken a different turn from the original profile piece that was discussed and agreed to. We have no additional information to add, as nothing has changed since the news was announced. For specific questions regarding the future of the Ogden location, please contact Mark Ridley.” Ridley was contacted by phone and email, but did not respond to questions about the new store in Ogden. The Idaho-based grocer took control of the Wangsgards Market & Bakery, 120 N. Washington Blvd., Ogden, in April. That store is across the street from the Harmons store space it will be taking over. In an April 27 story, Ridley told the Standard-Examiner little would change at Wangsgards, an assurance that included keeping the grocery store’s longtime name and the 90-some people it employed. Harmons and Ridley’s, in their July 16 announcement, said Ridley’s will try to do the same with Harmons employees. “It is the goal of both Harmons and Ridley’s to offer positions to current employees,” the release said. “Many Harmons associates will be given the opportunity to transfer to another Harmons location, while others will be offered new positions at Ridley’s.” The press release did not provide information about wages for employees who would be absorbed by Ridley’s, nor did it offer specifics on which stores retained employees could be transferred to. Harmons stores in green, Ridley’s in blue. Rice did say Harmons has no plans to close its Roy location, 5370 S. 1900 West, or its Station Park store, 200 Station Parkway in Farmington. California-based LBG Real Estate Companies LLC purchased The Family Center at Ogden Five Points, where Harmons is located, for an undisclosed sum in late 2013. Soon after the purchase, the company completed a $2 million renovation project on the entire 161,795-square-foot shopping center, including major renovations at Harmons.  Attempts to reach LBG were unsuccessful. Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.  

Windows 10

Here's how to prepare for Windows 10

The big day for Microsoft's release of the Windows 10 operating system is upon us. With some hefty new features, including a new browser that replaces Internet Explorer, it may be tempting to upgrade. And that's exactly what Microsoft wants you to do, but there are good reasons to wait. If you are a Windows 7 or 8 user, you may have noticed a Windows flag in the lower righthand corner of your screen — that's the installation mechanism to upgrade. (If you use one of those operating systems and you do not see the flag, it means you have system updates available, which should be installed whether or not you plan to upgrade.) In an upgrade this big, there are bound to be bugs. To be sure, Microsoft will address them quickly and release updates, but the process will go much smoother if you wait a few months. The free upgrade is available for a full year, so relax and prepare yourself and your computer for the change. There are several things you need to know before you install Windows 10. First, is the new system compatible with your computer? You can check with Microsoft's tool. Go ahead and click the little flag to launch the Microsoft 10 upgrade tool — don't worry, you can stop before any changes are made to your system. Once the Get Windows 10 window opens, look for the three bar icon in the upper left corner and click on it. Under "Getting the upgrade," select "Check your PC. Microsoft will run a diagnostic tool to determine if your computer has enough memory, sufficient processing power and that your data and files are ready. If you'd prefer to check for yourself, here are the requirements: ● Your computer must be running the latest version of Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update ● 1 gigahertz or faster processor ● 1 gigabyte of RAM for 32-bit operating system or 2 GB for 64-bit OS ● 16 GB available on your hard disk for 32-bit OS; 20 GB for 64-bit OS ● DirectX9 or later graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver ● Display resolution of 800 x 600 To find the matching specs on your computer, 8.1 users may start by typing "PC info" into the search bar found on the start screen. Windows 7 users should navigate to the Control Panel, select "System" to see the same information. You'll have to dig deeper to find available hard disk space and your graphics card. Frankly, I'd opt for the tool. If your computer does not meet the requirements, you can forget about this for now. When it comes time to buy a new computer, you should not have to worry about getting one with the current OS. In fact, beginning with Windows 10, Microsoft will update it regularly and automatically, eliminating the problem of out-of-date versions in the market like we saw with 8 and 8.1. Which version of Microsoft 10 is right for you? Microsoft 10 comes in seven versions, but unless you're a large business owner, an educational institution, using it on a mobile device or building a robot, you need only be concerned about Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro. These are designed for the home and small business user. Both come with the new features we've been hearing about like the revamped Start Menu, Edge browser and voice assistant Cortana. Pro adds data encryption tools and remote desktop support, along with several other business-oriented features. You’ll be upgraded to a version of Windows that's equivalent to the one you’re already running. So if you have a copy of Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic or Home Premium, or are running Windows 8.1, you will receive Windows 10 Home. Windows 10 Pro replaces Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8.1 Pro, and Windows 8.1 Pro for Students. If you are eligible for the Home upgrade, but want to upgrade to Pro, it will cost $99. For those who decide to go ahead and upgrade to Windows 10, allow several hours for the process. Start a time when you won't be needing to use your computer, say at the end of the day. The installer is about 3GB and download time will depend on the speed of your Internet connection. Installation should take around an hour, but will depend on your hardware. Once the upgrade starts, you'll see a progress window showing a percentage as it climbs toward completion. Leslie Meredith has been writing about and reviewing personal technology for the past six years. She has designed and manages several international websites. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at

Oils Big Slump

Extended slump in oil taking toll on industry, economy

NEW YORK — As drivers, shippers and airlines continue to enjoy lower fuel prices, the oil industry is responding to much lower profits with sharp cuts in spending and employment that are hurting economic growth. Low oil and gas prices are good for the overall economy because they reduce costs for consumers and business. U.S. economic growth was higher in the second quarter, and economists say that was partly fueled by consumers spending some of their savings on gasoline at stores and restaurants. But with oil prices down around 50 percent from last year, major oil companies are cutting back, offsetting some of this good news. For instance, Exxon Mobil said Friday it cut spending by $1.54 billion in the second quarter, while Chevron announced it is laying off 1,500 workers. Until about six months ago, booming U.S. oil and gas production was helping the country’s economy grow during a time of economic sluggishness. David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said this week that a $29 billion decline in oil exploration and mining activity in the U.S. cut economic growth by 0.7 percent in the second quarter, a sizable chunk for an economy that grew 2.3 percent. Investors also feel the pain. Lower oil profits have an outsized effect on stock markets because the companies are so enormous. Analysts at RBC Capital Markets wrote that when oil prices drop by 10 percent, earnings for the overall S&P 500 fall by 1 percent. Industry layoffs seem to be accelerating. Royal Dutch Shell, while announcing Thursday that profits fell 25 percent in the second quarter, said it would cut its global workforce by 6,500. Chevron’s quarterly profit fell 90 percent and CEO John Watson said the company is reducing its workforce “to reflect lower activity levels going forward.” Layoffs at three of the big oil and gas service companies are near 60,000 after two of them, Halliburton and Baker Hughes, revealed further layoffs in quarterly filings last week. BP CFO Brian Gilvary told investors Thursday that the company has been cutting workers “and I think you’ll see more of that before we get to the end of the year.” BP’s oil and gas profit dropped 64 percent from April through June. Exxon Mobil’s profit fell by half, to its lowest level since the recession of 2009, the company said Friday. Its operations in the U.S. — the center of the global oil and gas boom — posted its second straight quarterly loss. “The surprise really was here in the U.S.,” said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones. Shares of Exxon and Chevron, both components of the 20-member Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell 4 percent on Friday after they announced results. The companies are in some ways victims of their own success. A surge in oil and gas production brought on by technological advances and high prices in recent years has flooded the market, sending global prices sharply lower. But geopolitical forces have also increased the pressure on prices. Iranian oil is poised to return the world market after years of sanctions, the Greek debt crisis is reducing economic growth in Europe and a shake-up in Chinese financial markets is reducing demand growth in the world’s second largest oil consumer. After nearly four years near $100 a barrel, the price of oil began slumping a year ago, falling to $43 by March. It surged briefly all the way to $61 in June, but then fell again. Oil traded just above $47 a barrel on Friday. That has translated to sharply lower fuel prices. The U.S. average retail price of gasoline through the first half of the year was 30 percent lower than during the same period last year. On Friday the national average was $2.67 a gallon, 85 cents lower than last year at this time, according to AAA. Retail prices for diesel and heating oil have averaged 27 percent lower than last year, and airlines have posted some of their highest profits in years thanks to lower jet fuel prices. These low prices, along with the pain for the oil industry and pleasure for consumers, are likely to continue for a while, analysts say. There is plenty of oil in storage tanks and the global oil industry has the capacity to produce more if demand picks up. In a report Friday, IHS Energy analysts predict further declines in oil prices. IHS says oil will have to fall into the low $40 range and stay there for “several months” before U.S. production growth slows and the supply glut eases. “It’s not good news for producers,” said IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh. “It’s very good news for U.S. households and consumers.” Jonathan Fahey can be reached at .