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EFFICIENCY: Politics are driving more Midwest states away from clean energy standards, but states throughout the region are being recognized for tackling energy efficiency through a variety of sectors. (Midwest Energy News)

COAL: Roughly 12,500 coal-mining families — including about 3,500 in southern Illinois — who worked at Patriot Coal and its predecessors are notified they will lose health care benefits by Dec. 31 without congressional action. (Associated Press, Southern Illinoisan)

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• Minnesota corporations that signed on to a climate change pledge last year “still contribute to politicians who say climate change is a hoax or exaggerated.” (Minnesota Public Radio)
• Environmental groups in Minnesota ask the federal government for a more thorough analysis of potential climate change impacts from a proposed copper-nickel mine. (Minnesota Public Radio)
• Climate change was “treated as an afterthought” in the second presidential debate. (InsideClimate News)

FRAC SAND: After five years, a Minnesota county is expected to vote this month on whether to ban frac sand mining operations. (Winona Daily News)

TRANSMISSION: A Wisconsin town seeks to overturn state regulators’ approval of two high-voltage transmission lines, saying the decision infringes on property rights and creates an unnecessary financial risk. (LaCrosse Tribune)

RENEWABLES: Michigan’s two largest utilities dispute claims that they are de-emphasizing renewable energy investment. (Detroit Free Press)

NATURAL GAS: Increased excavation and construction in Lincoln, Nebraska may be to blame for higher rates of reported natural gas leaks, officials say. (Lincoln Journal-Star)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: EV sales set a quarterly record in the U.S., up 60 percent in the third quarter over the same period last year. (Gas2)

ECONOMY: Michigan’s energy-sector economy is expected to increase hiring even as oil and natural gas prices remain low. (Detroit Free Press)

SOLAR: A Minneapolis-based company that sells power-backup products is expanding as it looks to develop more solar generation in the state. (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

PIPELINES: A Wisconsin county sheriff says his decision to send deputies to help with Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota is “about public safety.” (WISC-TV)

• A Missouri-based utility announces an agreement with Kansas regulators that clears the way for the utility’s planned $2.4 billion merger with a Canadian company. (Joplin Globe)
• Iowa utilities ramp up recruiting efforts for transmission line mechanics amid a declining number of workers in the field. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
• Energy giant Shell is seeking regulatory approval to sell electricity to large industrial users in Ohio. (Columbus Business First)
• An official with Detroit-based DTE Energy says he’s “not worried” about meeting capacity needs as coal plants close. (Detroit Free Press)

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RATES: A new U.S. Energy Information Administration report shows residential electric bills decreased for the first time since 2002, though another increase is expected next year. (Grist)

COMMENTARY: Michigan conservative groups criticize the state’s opposition to Tesla’s selling cars directly to customers there, amid a broader push for clean energy development. (Midwest Energy News)

Andy Balaskovitz

Andy Balaskovitz

Andy has been a journalism fellow for Midwest Energy News since 2014, following four years at City Pulse, Lansing’s alt-weekly newspaper. He covers the state of Michigan and also compiles the Midwest Energy News daily email digest. Andy is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Journalism School, where he focused on topics covered by the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism and wrote for the Great Lakes Echo. He was the 2008 and 2009 recipient of the Edward Meeman Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Environmental Journalism at Michigan State.

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