NOTE TO READERS: The Energy News Network will be taking a two-week break for the holidays. U.S. Energy News will return on Monday, January 4. Thank you for your support this year!

TRANSITION: President-elect Joe Biden names North Carolina environmental regulator Michael Regan to lead the EPA; Regan would be the first Black man to lead the agency. (New York Times)

ALSO: Biden selects New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Interior Department; if confirmed she will be the first Native American to hold a Cabinet position. (CNN)

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CYBERSECURITY:
The Energy Department acknowledges its business systems were breached in a major cyberattack this year that affected a software product also used by many U.S. utilities. (NBC, E&E News)
Federal officials say evidence points to a Russian as the source of the attack, which poses “a grave risk to the federal government” and other entities. (New York Times) 

POLITICS: Records show that Michigan utilities donated more than $50,000 to intra-party rivals of a Democratic lawmaker who was critical of the companies, which advocates say shows how industries strategically target campaign donations to influence the legislature. (Energy News Network)

SOLAR: Ohio’s solar market is booming because of inexpensive land and high corporate renewable energy demand and despite years of hostility toward renewables from policymakers. (Inside Climate News)

EFFICIENCY: An annual campaign in Vermont to promote weatherization goes virtual this year due to the pandemic. (Energy News Network)

TRANSMISSION: A Maine court rules an anti-transmission line group must disclose its donors to the state Ethics Commission in an investigation of whether it should register as a political committee. (Bangor Daily News)

NATURAL GAS: Critics of a 650 MW natural gas power plant say an approval by state officials runs counter to Connecticut’s climate goals. (Energy News Network)

COAL: Colorado regulators reverse a preliminary decision made last month to close three coal-fired power plants by the end of 2028. (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

PIPELINES: Federal regulators approve the resumption of construction for 17 miles of the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s route between two sections of national forest. (Roanoke Times)

BIOFUELS: U.S. biofuel producers seeking federal relief will shift their focus from Congress to presumptive incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. (E&E News, subscription)

TRANSPORTATION: Northeast states may on Monday release a long-awaited plan to create a cap-and-invest program for tailpipe emissions. (E&E News, subscription)

CLIMATE:
• Sen Lindsay Graham says U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement should be subject to approval by the Senate. (E&E News)
• A new study finds more than 80% of Texans believe in climate change, and that most support policies to reduce carbon emissions. (E&E News, subscription)

COMMENTARY: Grid infrastructure investments that favor distributed generation and non-wires alternatives will be key for Michigan to achieve ambitious emission-reduction targets, an advanced energy group says. (Energy News Network)

Ken Paulman

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.