ETHANOL: An Associated Press investigation finds a heavy environmental toll as farmers expand corn acreage to feed a growing ethanol market, with five million acres of conservation easements converted to farmland since 2008. The story is accompanied by state-level reports, including from Illinois and Minnesota.

MEANWHILE: While one ethanol executive says “we did not do enough from a PR standpoint,” other ethanol industry supporters call the AP story a “hit piece” that is “purposefully designed to damage the ethanol industry,” the AP stands behind its reporting and further explains how the investigation was conducted. (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Des Moines Register, Associated Press)

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SOLAR: “It is easy to lose sight of the fact that the growth in clean-energy generation is a huge success story.” (New York Times)

ALSO: Some residents of a southern Illinois town oppose disturbing a contaminated industrial site to build a solar farm. (Carbondale Southern)

CLIMATE: At the UN climate talks in Warsaw, a delegate from the typhoon-ravaged Philippines says he will fast “until a meaningful outcome is in sight.” (BBC)

EPA: Utilities say EPA carbon rules could impact rural ratepayers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backs a bill that would limit the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. (Greenwire, The Hill)

COAL: Environmental groups challenge a lease to mine coal from beneath an Ohio national forest. (Associated Press)

OHIO: A bill to weaken Ohio’s energy efficiency law remains in the hands of a state Senate committee, as towns and counties line up to oppose the measure. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Toledo Blade)

OIL: A proposed Enbridge pipeline across northern Minnesota would be designed to eventually double in capacity, Nebraska tribes join ranchers to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline as shifting economics make it unclear where the oil shipped via the pipeline will end up. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lincoln Journal Star, Omaha World-Herald)

TRANSPORTATION: Driverless cars could be on the road in Ann Arbor, Michigan by 2021. (CBS Detroit)

BIOFUELS: Why the cellulosic ethanol industry expects 2014 to be a turning point. (Kansas City Star)

SMART GRID: A survey of utility executives finds most expect the benefits of smart grid investments to exceed industry forecasts. (Electric Light & Power)

TRANSMISSION: American Electric Power plans to spend more than $2 billion on grid upgrades in Ohio. (Columbus Dispatch)

WIND: How a control room in California helps prevent bird deaths at a Montana wind farm. (Associated Press)

UTILITIES: Is FirstEnergy becoming more like American Electric Power? (Columbus Dispatch)

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BIOMASS: A wood-fired power plant is now generating power in north-central Wisconsin, while also providing steam for a nearby paper mill. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

COMMENTARY: Five bad arguments from the coal industry. (Bloomberg)

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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