OIL & GAS: Louisiana will ask the federal government for $402 million to plug 4,605 orphan oil and gas wells that are releasing methane and clean up related environmental issues. (NOLA.com)

• Critics pan President Joe Biden’s ambiguous approach to fossil fuels as he holds a large auction for new oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico while blocking oil and gas development elsewhere. (Sierra)
• A group of Texas oil and gas veterans launch a new business to grow hemp in Colorado, Kentucky, and Texas. (Times and Democrat)
• An Alabama fire marshal says a natural gas wall heater likely caused a fire that killed a woman and her two elementary-age children. (Associated Press)

PIPELINES: The Mountain Valley Pipeline racked up three new legal challenges in the last month, marking at least 56 civil actions brought against the project since 2017. (Roanoke Times)

• Virginia regulators approve Dominion Energy’s plan to replace roughly 1.1 million existing meters with newer smart meters after rejecting the plan three times before. (Virginia Mercury)
• Thousands of members of central Virginia electric cooperatives were still without power over the weekend after last week’s snow. (WRIC)

BIOGAS: Riverkeeper organizations across North Carolina are flying privately chartered planes over a growing number of industrial-scale hog and poultry operations to document waste leaking into watersheds. (Inside Climate News)

• North Carolina considers labeling solar panels as a subset of hazardous waste as it studies what to do with the 23.3 million panels on utility-scale farms across the state once they’re decommissioned. (N.C. Policy Watch)
• Nearly 10,000 refrigerator-sized boxes and the same number of wooden pallets used to ship solar panels to a Florida Power & Light solar farm are ground up to be reused as mulch for grass and wildflowers. (NorthEscambia.com)

POLITICS: West Virginia lawmakers consider bills to create a new mine reclamation mutual fund and to reverse the state’s ban on nuclear generation as they prepare for the 2022 legislative session. (State Journal)

• Tesla unveils a 100 MW storage facility in Texas that consists of 81 Megapacks. (Electrek)
• University of Texas at Austin researchers develop a sodium-based battery material that could potentially replace lithium and cobalt in batteries. (National Science Foundation)

CLIMATE: Texas’ state climatologist announces that 2021 marked the hottest December in Texas since at least 1889. (KXAN)

COAL: Coal burned for electricity spiked 17% in 2021, the first time it has grown since 2014. (CNN)

CARBON CAPTURE: Elon Musk announces on Twitter that his SpaceX company will begin developing carbon capture technology around its Texas operation. (The Hill)

CRYPTOCURRENCY: Kentucky’s low energy costs and various energy resources combine to make it the second most popular state for new cryptocurrency operations in the U.S. behind New York. (Spectrum News)

COMMENTARY: Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s intention to withdraw from a regional carbon trading market and appoint Donald Trump’s former EPA chief as secretary of natural resources demonstrates the incoming governor is no moderate on climate and the environment, writes an editorial board. (Washington Post)

Mason has worked as a journalist since 2001, covering Appalachian communities and the issues that affect them. He compiles the Southeast Energy News digest. Mason previously worked as a wildlife biologist before moving into journalism by freelancing at Coast Weekly in Monterey, California, before taking an internship in 2001 at High Country News. He wrote for the Enterprise Mountaineer in western North Carolina and the Roanoke Times in western Virginia before going freelance in 2012. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, WVPB’s Inside Appalachia and elsewhere. Mason was born and raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, and now lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia.