NOTE TO READERS: Midwest Energy News will be taking a break for Labor Day. The email digest will return on Tuesday, September 2.

PIPELINES: Minnesota regulators approve an oil sands pipeline expansion, and Enbridge could face a fine of up to $86 million for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, InsideClimate News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Midwest Energy Policy Conference 2014 — Get the early-bird discount now for the Midwest Energy Policy Conference on Sep. 30-Oct. 1 in St. Louis!***

COAL: A study finds existing coal plants will emit more than 300 billion tons of CO2 in their lifespans. (Climate Central)

ALSO: Duke Energy plans to close an Ohio coal plant early, utilities turn to trucks and barges to ship coal amid congested railways, and producers of a new reality TV show are looking for unemployed coal miners. (Charlotte Business Journal, Reuters, Columbus Business First)

SOLAR: In Minnesota and elsewhere, churches turn to solar power and other measures to draw attention to climate change. (Midwest Energy News)

SMART GRID: American Electric Power seeks permission to charge Ohio ratepayers $31.80 per month if they refuse to install a smart meter. (Columbus Dispatch)

POLLUTION: Saltwater spills related to drilling operations are sterilizing farmland in North Dakota. (Inside Energy)

POLITICS: Upset over delayed fracking regulations, oil industry donors are backing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s Republican challenger. (Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)

NATURAL GAS: A North Dakota utility seeks a site for a new 600 MW natural gas power plant. (Bismarck Tribune)

GREEN ECONOMY: A new survey ranks Michigan third in the nation for clean-energy jobs. (Crain’s Detroit Business)

EFFICIENCY: The marquee at a landmark Ann Arbor theater is converted to LEDs. (MLive)

***SPONSORED LINK: Sign up now for the Solar Powering Michigan conference, Sept. 12 in Traverse City. Space is limited, so register today! Pre- & post-conference trainings available. Presented by MREA, GLREA and Northwestern Michigan College.***

UTILITIES: A new online tool will help Chicago utility customers find the best deal for electricity. (Chicago Tribune)

COMMENTARY: Why China is not an excuse for U.S. inaction on climate change. (Washington Post)

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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