Daily digest

Energy Dept. pledges $1 billion for FutureGen coal project

NOTE TO READERS: The Chicago Tribune article on coal plant upgrades in yesterday’s digest was from January 2013. Apologies for the error.

COAL: The Department of Energy pledges $1 billion to help fund the FutureGen project in Illinois, part of a larger push for carbon capture in the U.S. (Springfield State Journal-Register, Christian Science Monitor)

ALSO: States are still spending billions of dollars to import coal, a Michigan town will pay $450,000 to settle pollution claims related to its coal plant, and developers of a proposed Illinois coal mine are ordered to stop logging on the site. (Midwest Energy News, WZZM, Carbondale Southern)

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EPA: Nebraska sues to block EPA carbon rules for power plants, an email exchange between a Sierra Club lobbyist and EPA staffers becomes a GOP talking point, and the agency denies accusations that carbon rules were delayed for political reasons. (Lincoln Journal Star, Greenwire, Associated Press)

CLIMATE: A UN report warns severe economic disruption is becoming more likely as action on climate change is delayed. (New York Times)

SOLAR: A Wisconsin cooperative plans a new solar farm in southeast Minnesota, and a Minnesota study finds solar thermal heating systems are cost-competitive with other fuels. (LaCrosse Tribune, Finance & Commerce)

WIND: Construction will begin this month on a new Nebraska wind farm after the state’s largest utility signs a 25-year purchase agreement. (Omaha World-Herald)

OIL: Federal transportation officials call on railroads to improve oil train safety, and Canada loses patience with the U.S. on Keystone XL. (Associated Press, Reuters)

FRACKING: Ohio lawmakers want to ensure drilling tax dollars go to impacted communities, and a study finds fracking’s impact on home values depends on where those homes get their water from. (Columbus Dispatch, The Economist)

OHIO: More than two dozen people apply to lead the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and environmentalists question whether the state’s EPA can handle a major water pollution threat like the recent West Virginia chemical spill. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Public News Service)

ETHANOL: A group of 30 House lawmakers warn cutting the renewable fuel standard will harm rural communities, and Iowa legislators pass resolutions in support of the existing mandate. (Des Moines Register)

TRANSMISSION: A North Dakota utility unveils alternate routes for new transmission lines to serve the state’s oil fields, but doesn’t resolve controversy over crossing a historic battlefield. (Bismarck Tribune)

COMMENTARY: Why exploding oil trains are the new Keystone XL. (Grist)

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