CORRECTION: An item in Wednesday’s email erroneously referred to armed guards at a Wisconsin frac sand mine. It is a taconite mine.

EPA: After considerable delay, the U.S. Senate votes 59-40 to confirm Gina McCarthy to lead the EPA. (Washington Post)

***SPONSORED LINK: The Inspiring Efficiency Awards recognize Midwest leaders who deliver groundbreaking advancements in energy efficiency. Apply or provide a nomination today.***

EFFICIENCY: A new study finds improving energy efficiency could extend a lifeline to struggling Midwest paper mills. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: Ohio officials cut back the number of prisons that will curtail electricity use during times of peak demand. (Columbus Dispatch)

FRACKING: Preliminary findings from a Department of Energy study show no evidence that fracking chemicals contaminated drinking water in Pennsylvania, industry contributions helped defeat a popular drilling tax proposal in Ohio, and drillers walk away from a fracked well in Michigan. (Associated Press, Cincinnati Enquirer,

SOLAR: Minnesota’s first community-owned solar gardens take shape, and solar installers push back against utility criticism of net metering. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Greentech Media)

OIL: The number of crude oil spills from trains has soared in recent years, and TransCanada says it’s unlikely the company will meet its proposed launch date for Keystone XL. (EnergyWire, Bloomberg)

POLITICS: State renewable energy mandates are finding an unlikely source of support: Farmers. (Wall Street Journal)

CLIMATE: The U.S. Senate stages another debate on climate science, as a Mississippi Republican urges “tolerance” for climate change views that lack scientific merit. (Greenwire, The Hill)

FRAC SAND: A Minnesota county voted earlier this week not to extend its frac sand mining moratorium. (Rochester Post-Bulletin)

BIOFUELS: Ethanol advocates say oil industry ads targeting the Renewable Fuel Standard are misleading. (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

AGRICULTURE: Iowa considers requiring inspections of on-farm electrical installations. (Des Moines Register)

NUCLEAR: Federal regulators will require a Wisconsin nuclear plant to improve its flood plan. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

COMMENTARY: How to fund public transit without raising fares or cutting service. (Atlantic Cities)

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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