AT THE CAPITOL: Legislation advances in three states to challenge renewable energy standards; in Kansas, a lobbyist for Koch Industries met privately with a House committee chair prior to the committee’s approval of a bill weakening that state’s law. (Midwest Energy News, Topeka Capital-Journal)

FRAC SAND: Minnesota lawmakers advance a bill that would impose a moratorium on new frac sand mining operations. (Minnesota Public Radio)

***SPONSORED LINK: The best Midwest clean energy startups vie for $250,000 in prizes at the 2013 Clean Energy Challenge April 4 in Chicago. Discounted early-bird tickets available now through March 1. ***

COAL: The EPA is expected to decide soon whether the S.S. Badger will still be allowed to dump coal ash into Lake Michigan, and Indiana’s state Senate approves a bill that would delay action on a proposed coal-to-gas plant until litigation over a state contract to buy energy from the plant is complete. (Associated Press, Evansville Courier & Press)

ALSO: Alberta pulls funding for a coal-to-gas carbon-capture project, citing low natural gas prices. (Reuters)

NUCLEAR: The U.S. nuclear power industry pushes back against tougher safety requirements pursued by regulators after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. (New York Times)

TRANSMISSION: A White House official warns grid upgrades are needed to improve reliability as weather becomes more extreme, and a startup company sells devices that clamp onto power lines to help manage the flow of electricity. (The Hill, GigaOM)

TRANSPORTATION: Minnesota considers a sales tax increase to support transit, and a Milwaukee group says electronic toll roads could help finance highway repairs. (Great Lakes Echo, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

BIOFUELS: A bill in Minnesota would set a 30 percent biofuel blending goal and allow isobutanol to be included, and industry groups complain about a “one-sided” U.S. House hearing on higher ethanol blends. (St. Paul Pioneer Press, Des Moines Register)

CLIMATE: Dueling papers debate the merits of a carbon tax. (Greenwire)

SOLAR: A solar cell developed at FirstSolar’s Ohio facility sets a world record for conversion efficiency. (Toledo Blade)

COMMENTARY: Research finds neighborhoods with strong family values are more likely to adopt solar power, how the oil boom may be reducing teen pregnancy rates in North Dakota, and the economic case for regulating carbon emissions for existing power plants. (Denver Post, Slate, New York Times)

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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