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Roundup: RMU poll shows fracking support; Google to pay $17M settlement; more

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

RMU poll shows support for fracking

More Americans support hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas than oppose the drilling technology, according to a survey by Robert Morris University in Moon. The poll showed 80 percent believe fracking has the potential to help the economy. In fracking, drillers inject water, sand and chemicals into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. Opponents worry the practice can pollute the air and water. The university polled 1,003 adults across the country online between Oct. 23 and Nov. 1. It found 42 percent of respondents support fracking, 33 percent opposed it and 25 percent were not sure. When asked whether they would support fracking in their town, 40 percent supported such drilling, while 35 percent opposed it. Seventy-four percent said they believe fracking will help propel the country toward energy independence.

Google agrees to pay $17M settlement

Google will pay $17 million to 37 states, including Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia to settle claims it violated consumer privacy in 2011 and 2012 by placing unauthorized cookies on computers using certain Apple Safari Web browsers. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said the state will receive $484,000 from the settlement. Google Inc. altered coding from its DoubleClick advertising platform to circumvent default privacy settings on Safari without consumers' knowledge or consent. Altering the coding allowed Google to put DoubleClick cookies on Safari Web browsers. Google disabled the coding in February 2012 when news of the practice was widely reported. Google said the cookies collected no personal information.

Small coffee producer prevails over Starbucks

A small New Hampshire coffee producer that operates out of a barn has prevailed in a trademark infringement case brought by Starbucks over a blend called “Charbucks.” “We're just a mom-and-pop little roastery,” said Annie Clark, who owns Black Bear Micro Roastery in Tuftonboro with her husband, Jim. They were sued in 2001 in federal district court in New York by Starbucks, which alleged Black Bear's use of the name “Charbucks” infringed, blurred and tarnished its famous trademarks. Starbucks appealed to the 2nd U.S. Court Circuit Court of Appeals when Black Bear prevailed in district court. The appeals court agreed with the district court, saying Starbucks didn't prove its case. Charbucks, introduced in 1997, is Black Bear's darkest roast coffee. Seattle-based Starbucks respects but disagrees with the court's decision, company spokesman Zack Hutson said.

Production to stop at overseas Koppers plant

Pittsburgh-based Koppers Holdings Inc. has decided to stop manufacturing coal tar and petroleum products at its Uithoorn, Netherlands, plant, and plans to close it by July 1. No jobs will be lost in the Pittsburgh region, said Christina Evans, a Koppers spokeswoman. Koppers declined to say how many jobs would be lost or its reasons for ending its coal tar and petroleum products manufacturing.

Other business news

• Consol Energy Inc. said Randall M. “Randy” Albert, chief operating officer of its gas division, will retire after 34 years with the company. Albert was named COO of the gas division in 2010 when Dominion Resource's oil and gas assets were acquired, and he led the development of company's Marcellus shale program. Consol is conducting a national search for a replacement.

• Genco Inc., O'Hara, hired Stephen A. “Andy” Smith as president of its consumer and industrial logistics business on Monday. Smith has about 24 years of leadership experience in the distribution and logistics industry. Genco is a privately owned logistics, transportation and warehousing company with annual sales of $1.5 billion. Jim Polacheck, who held Smith's position, was promoted to vice chairman of Genco.

• The Washington Post Co. is changing its name to Graham Holdings to reflect the sale of its namesake newspaper. The switch will become official on Nov. 29, and its New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol will change from “WPO” to “GHC.” Washington Post Co. closed the sale of most of its newspaper business to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Oct. 1. Bezos reached a deal to buy the newspaper from the Graham family for $250 million in August.

• FNB Capital Partners LP, a $175 million investment fund in Pittsburgh, said on Monday that it closed its first mezzanine and equity investment. The amount of the investment was not disclosed. It supported local private equity firm 3 Rivers Capital's acquisition of Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services Inc., which provides physical and occupational therapy services across Pennsylvania.

• Mylan Inc. said it has started selling a generic version of Focalin XR, a drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Cecil-based Mylan will have 180 days of exclusive sales as the first company to receive final approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its version of the drug, which had sales of $67.3 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30.

• Clarion Hospital said it will begin offering radiation oncology services in May in partnership with the Allegheny Health Network Radiation Oncology Network. Allegheny Health Network, the hospital system owned by health insurer Highmark Inc., will supply physicians and radiation physicists to Clarion's cancer treatment center. The 86-bed Clarion County medical center stopped providing radiation oncology two years ago, but its foundation raised $2 million to bring back the service.

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