CLIMATE: As Senate hearings continue, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett continues to evade questions on climate change, saying she will not state a view on a “politically controversial” subject. (Associated Press)

• Scientists say this year saw the hottest September on record, at nearly 1.75 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. (Associated Press)
• Hundreds of law students pledge to boycott one of the country’s most prestigious law firms over its representation of oil companies. (E&E News, subscription)

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• A new report finds that criminal prosecutions for pollution violations have fallen sharply under the Trump administration. (New York Times)
• The EPA’s science advisory board is adding a consultant who previously worked to discredit science linking tobacco to health risks, and placing him immediately in a leadership role. (The Hill)

EQUITY: As leaders from a dozen states discuss equity issues around a regional transportation emissions pact, environmental justice advocates say they need to involve more people of color in the process. (Energy News Network)

Officials from New Mexico’s largest electric utility are gathering on the Jicarilla Apache Nation today to break ground on a 50-megawatt solar field, the third largest solar project on tribal land in the United States. (Associated Press)
• Philadelphia officials say they have cut red tape out of the approvals for home solar installers that shave weeks off permit applications. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

• Occidental Petroleum’s CEO says U.S. oil production has peaked and is unlikely to return to a record level set earlier this year. (Bloomberg)
• Experts say the U.S. oil and gas industry is on the verge of defaulting on billions of dollars in environmental cleanup obligations as company bankruptcies mount. (DeSmog)

• Tribal members inspecting the Line 5 pipeline using a remote underwater vehicle find possible prehistoric stone formations in the Straits of Mackinac that — if confirmed — could affect the route of Enbridge’s proposed pipeline tunnel. (Detroit Free Press)
• A lack of transparency from Mariner East pipeline developers leaves communities along the route unclear about emergency procedures in the event of an accident. (Spotlight PA)
• A malicious prosecution lawsuit claims that a security firm conspired to have three Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents arrested based in part on a false accusation that they were “affiliated with Antifa.” (Roanoke Times)

UTILITIES: DTE Energy and Exelon deny reports that they’re considering divesting non-utility assets, though experts say the practice could be increasingly common among regulated utilities. (Utility Dive)

TECHNOLOGY: Facebook is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to use artificial intelligence software to develop new electrocatalysts capable of storing energy. (CNBC)

BIOFUELS: President Trump touts his administration’s record supporting the ethanol industry at a campaign stop in Iowa, though the industry has faced ongoing uncertainty during his tenure. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

ANALYSIS: Fossil fuel money has helped to shape a Supreme Court that is likely to be a formidable obstacle to any future climate policies. (The New Republic)

• An editorial board says the just-passed Connecticut utility reform bill is the first step in a long process to make electric service providers more responsive to consumers. (The Day)
• A Minnesota clean energy advocate discusses her new nonprofit’s strategies for expanding clean energy access in marginalized areas of Minneapolis. (Clean Energy Resource Teams)

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.