COAL: Four environmental groups have filed a legal action to force Midwest Generation to clean up groundwater that they say was polluted by leaking coal ash ponds at four of the company’s Illinois power plants. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: A Minnesota utility wants to continue operating an aging coal plant until 2020 before replacing it with natural gas. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

POLITICS: Employees of Murray Energy, the Ohio coal company that required workers to attend a pro-Romney rally in August, say they are also pressured to make donations to PACs and specific GOP candidates. (The New Republic)

CARBON CAPTURE: An Illinois community college is the first in the country to offer a degree program in carbon capture technology. (Greenwire)

SOLAR: Overcapacity in China could be leading to a financial disaster for China’s renewable energy sector. (New York Times)

EFFICIENCY: Minnesota is again the top Midwest state in an annual energy efficiency report card, and Indiana announces $500,000 in grants for energy conservation projects. (Great Lakes Echo, Associated Press)

MICHIGAN: A fact check finds ads for and against a ballot measure to expand Michigan’s renewable energy standard contain questionable statements. (Michigan Radio)

SMART GRID: Grid upgrades in Illinois could be delayed for years as ComEd challenges a state decision that would limit its profits under a new grid modernization law. (Chicago Tribune)

NATURAL GAS: Alliant Energy says it expects a new, $750 million natural gas plant in Iowa to be up and running by 2017. (Marshalltown Times-Republican)

TRANSPORTATION: A Minnesota county pulls out of a high-speed rail coalition, and Ford turns to a vintage Italian cartoon character to market its new C-Max hybrid. (South Washington County Bulletin, CBS Detroit)

ETHANOL: The owner of an idled Minnesota ethanol plant misses a $3.6 million loan payment. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

COMMENTARY: What has the solar trade dispute with China accomplished so far? Nothing. (GigaOM)

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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