Daily digest

CO2 monitoring expands as alarming milestone reached

CLIMATE: On Friday, atmospheric CO2 levels passed 400 parts per million for the first time in 3 million years; scientists say a wide range of plants and animals will be vulnerable to climate change; and researchers seek to expand emissions monitoring in major cities. (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press)

OHIO: FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities face challenges that they overpaid for renewable energy credits and passed the excess costs on to consumers, but confidentiality claims make it hard to know how much money is at stake. (Midwest Energy News)

ILLINOIS: A quirk in state law means as much as $135 million in state money targeted for renewable energy development will sit unspent. (Chicago Tribune)

IOWA: MidAmerican Energy seeks its first base rate increase since 1995, the move is unrelated to the utility’s recent announcement of a $1.9 billion wind energy expansion, which it says will help keep rates low. (Quad-City Times)

SOLAR: Minnesota’s Senate passes a more modest solar energy standard, a conference committee will reconcile it with a 4 percent mandate passed by the House; and the port of Burlington, Iowa plans new solar panels. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Associated Press)

CONGRESS: A bill to allow renewable projects to take advantage of master limited partnerships is expected to pass, the Senate will vote on whether to confirm Ernest Moniz to lead the Department of Energy as early as tomorrow, and delays in Gina McCarthy’s EPA confirmation have Democrats calling for procedural reform to stop what they deem a “pattern of abuse” by the GOP. (InsideClimate News, The Hill, E&E Daily)

FRACKING: North Dakota moves to protect culturally important sites from drilling, and recreational activities at an Ohio national forest are restricted amid drilling and mining activity. (Fargo Forum, Associated Press)

NATURAL GAS: In addition to fighting wind power, Exelon now sees natural gas plants as a threat to its bottom line; plans to export natural gas prompt a debate over the impact on domestic energy prices; and Kwik Trip expands its natural gas fueling stations in Wisconsin. (Crain’s Chicago Business, Associated Press, Wisconsin State Journal)

EFFICIENCY: An Ohio hospital expects to save $50,000 a year on energy after installing a combined-heat-and-power generating system, and an Ohio couple writes a book about their efforts to convert their 1940s home into a model of energy conservation. (Toledo Blade, Columbus Dispatch)

TECHNOLOGY: Multiple companies are now in the race to develop cost-effective storage for renewable energy. (USA Today)

HYDROPOWER: A new hydropower plant opens in Lawrence, Kansas — all that’s needed now is enough water to spin the turbines. (Lawrence Journal-World)

COMMENTARY: As CO2 levels hit an alarming benchmark, why other greenhouse gases deserve our attention, too. (Grist)

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