• The U.S. Army approves construction of the Dakota Access pipeline across a disputed section in North Dakota, clearing the way for the project’s completion; the Standing Rock Sioux vow to challenge the decision in court. (Associated Press)
• A federal judge says Dakota Access pipeline protesters involved with violent confrontations with police in November are unlikely to succeed in a lawsuit alleging excessive force and civil rights violations. (Associated Press)

• Minnesota’s largest utility will begin a program this spring allowing businesses and ratepayers to buy electricity directly from two renewable energy projects, though critics say it’s in direct competition with community solar. (Midwest Energy News)
• DTE Energy in Michigan is launching a similar pilot program allowing ratepayers to invest directly in renewable energy projects. (Crain’s Detroit Business)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the Energy Storage Conference, February 15 in Milwaukee. This conference will explore recent advances in energy storage technologies, as well as the applications and in-field examples of the role of energy storage. ***

• A new report shows more than 51,000 solar jobs were added nationwide in 2016, a 24.5 percent increase over 2015; solar now employs more than twice as many people as coal. (Washington Post, Vox)
• Several Midwest states also saw solar job growth in 2016, including Michigan (48%), Wisconsin (45%) and Ohio (21%). (Crain’s Detroit Business, Milwaukee Business Journal, Columbus Business First)
• A Wisconsin county may pursue a state grant to help cover the costs of solar installations on government buildings. (Baraboo News Republic)

CLIMATE: A coalition of veteran GOP policymakers will meet with top White House officials today about replacing Obama climate regulations with a nationwide carbon tax. (Washington Post)

• The recent resolution of two sex-bias lawsuits will result in the immediate hiring of women into Illinois coal production jobs. (Associated Press)
• Opponents of Peabody Energy’s reorganization plan file an emergency appeal against the company’s proposal, saying it violates U.S. bankruptcy laws by prematurely requiring creditors to promise to support it. (Reuters)
• A molecular biologist in Illinois expresses concern about the impacts of continuing to burn coal on human health. (McDonough County Voice)

UTILITIES: Michigan-based Consumers Energy said 2016 was a strong year for reliability even as the utility retired more than half of its coal-fired facilities. (RTO Insider)

NUCLEAR: South Dakota lawmakers advance a bill that would require the Legislature’s approval for nuclear waste sites. (Watertown Public Opinion)

OIL BY RAIL: A fiery collision between rail cars — including one that was carrying oil — in 2013 was the result of a defective axle, according to a long-awaited investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. (Forum News Service)

BIOFUELS: Half of the soybean oil produced at a planned $240 million soybean processing plant in North Dakota would produce biodiesel. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY: Minnesota advocates argue that exempting local electric cooperatives from state regulatory oversight would restrict solar growth in rural parts of the state. (Midwest Energy News)

Andy compiles the Midwest Energy News digest and was a journalism fellow for Midwest Energy News from 2014-2020. He is managing editor of MiBiz in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was formerly a reporter and editor at City Pulse, Lansing’s alternative newsweekly.

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