Daily digest

Minnesota judge allows unusual defense for climate activists who shut down pipelines

EMISSIONS: An analysis finds Minnesota-based Great River Energy’s electric water heater program emits substantially more carbon than heaters using natural gas or propane because the utility still depends on coal for two-thirds of its generation. (Midwest Energy News)

CLIMATE: A district court judge in Minnesota allows climate activists to use the “necessity” of confronting the climate crisis as justification for temporarily shutting down two crude oil pipelines last year, which one expert calls “extremely unusual.” (InsideClimate News)

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UTILITIES: Environmental groups appeal an August decision by Ohio utility regulators they say allows for a “bailout” of FirstEnergy’s uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. (Toledo Blade)

BIOFUELS: The governors of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota co-sign a letter to President Trump expressing concern about potential changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

OHIO: Deregulation in the 1990s followed by the boom in hydraulic fracturing in the 2000s have had lasting impacts on Ohio’s energy markets. (Columbus Dispatch)

• A city in southeast Minnesota agrees to a 25-year contract to get energy from a planned community solar project, which could save nearly $2 million over that period. (Winona Daily News)
• Experts say utility-scale community solar programs are still evolving, but are starting to provide a range of options for customers. (Utility Dive)
• Researchers show the possible impacts of solar tariffs stemming from the Suniva-SolarWorld trade case in 12 charts. (Greentech Media)
• New solar installations along a light rail route in St. Paul, Minnesota will be unveiled today. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• Some residents in rural southern Michigan are skeptical about leasing their land for large-scale solar projects. (Sturgis Journal)

• After nearly five years of review, the State Department issues a presidential permit for the final piece of Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper pipeline that crosses the border in North Dakota. (Associated Press)
• Six Ojibwe bands opposed to Enbridge’s expansion plans for Line 3 will hold a series of public meetings as part of their own environmental assessment of the project. (Associated Press)

RENEWABLE ENERGY: University of Minnesota researchers say renewables on the grid are having less of an impact on reducing emissions than previously thought, emphasizing that more are necessary. (Minnesota Daily)

• The New York Times gives five reasons why Trump’s plans to save the coal industry “make no economic sense.”
• Advocates say two Illinois utilities are leading by using a new tool that calculates clean air benefits from investments such as advanced meters. (Environmental Defense Fund)

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