COAL: Recovered strip mines in Illinois and elsewhere have been converted into bargain rural retreats, but at what cost for their new owners? (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: Officials in an Illinois town say a recent report on soaring power costs from the Prairie State Energy Campus is “quite simply false,” and that they anticipate rising market prices to justify their stake in the project. (Winnetka-Glencoe Patch)

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POLITICS: In a questionnaire, Mitt Romney acknowledges that man-made emissions are contributing to climate change, but says he doesn’t believe “unilateral” U.S. action is a solution: “the problem is called Global Warming, not America Warming,” Romney wrote. Meanwhile, Democrats prepare to go on the offensive on energy issues. (The Hill, Greenwire)

NATURAL GAS: A new $1.5 billion natural gas pipeline is proposed for northern Ohio to connect the Utica Shale to other points in the Midwest, and environmentalists say a plan to convert a Michigan coal plant to natural gas doesn’t consider the potential for renewables or increased energy efficiency. (Cleveland Plain Dealer,

TRANSPORTATION: Plans for complete high-speed rail service connecting Chicago to St. Louis are now delayed until at least 2017. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OIL: BNSF Railway is bulking up capacity to haul as many as 1 million barrels per day from North Dakota’s oil patch. (Bismarck Tribune)

CLIMATE: Budget cuts force NOAA to halt greenhouse gas monitoring at 12 ground stations. (ClimateWire)

SOLAR: An Iowa lawmaker calls on the state to spend $3.1 million in surplus funds to install solar panels at the University of Iowa., and a northern Minnesota solar manufacturer has missed its first loan payments amid slow sales. (Cedar Rapids Gazette, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: Drug enforcement officers who thought they were busting a meth lab at an apartment in Hutchinson, Kansas found the occupant was tinkering with a fuel cell instead. (Hutchinson News)

COMMENTARY: The Toledo Blade says the failure of one Ohio company “is not an indictment of solar energy’s still-attractive potential,” and the Yankton (S.D.) Daily Press says achieving energy independence will require “weaning this nation off its structural addiction to oil.”

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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