CLIMATE: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signs a bill barring state regulators from considering climate impacts in permitting decisions for large projects such as coal mines and power plants. (Montana Free Press)

• A judge orders a Montana youths’ lawsuit challenging the state’s pro-fossil fuel policies to proceed to trial after the plaintiffs tried to get the case thrown out. (Associated Press)
U.S. Rep. John Curtis, a Utah Republican, looks to rebrand the GOP as the “climate realist” party by making a conservative case for action on global warming. (Deseret News)

A New Mexico advocacy group moves to disqualify two state regulators from presiding over a proposed PNM-Avangrid merger case, saying the commissioners are biased and engaged in illegal communications. (Albuquerque Journal)
Nevada regulators open an investigatory docket to seek options for improving NV Energy’s planning process. (2News)
Salt River Project in Arizona installs artificial intelligence-enabled cameras on transmission towers to detect and monitor wildfires. (Arizona Republic)

CLEAN ENERGY: Alaska utilities push back on a bill that would set a goal of 80% renewable power by 2040, saying it is too ambitious and comes from advocates’ playbook. (Alaska Beacon) 

FOSSIL FUELS: Wyoming’s mining sector employment, which includes oil and gas and coal workers, grew by 9.1% last quarter, significantly outpacing the state’s other industries. (Casper Star-Tribune)

EFFICIENCY: Hawaii lawmakers pass bills that would phase out fluorescent light bulbs and establish efficiency standards for household appliances. (Kauai Now) 

A western Colorado farmer looks to use federal funding to explore agrivoltaics, or integrating solar panels with crops. (Big Pivots)
A western Arizona county postpones a decision on two solar facilities proposed for private land after residents raise concerns about impacts to property values and the environment. (The Miner)
A California flour mill doubles its solar generating capacity, enabling it to meet about one-third of its total power demand from photovoltaics. (Baking Business) 

TRANSMISSION: California advocates oppose a proposed high voltage transmission line from Imperial Valley utility-scale solar facilities to urban areas, saying on-site distributed generation would be more cost effective. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

LITHIUM: Indigenous and environmental advocates block the road to the Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada to protest the facility’s impacts on a site sacred to area tribes. (ICT) 

Vistra Energy plans to complete its expansion of the world’s largest battery energy storage facility, located in California, this summer. (Energy Storage News)   
A firm that develops silicon-based materials for high-density batteries considers establishing a manufacturing facility in Butte, Montana. (Montana Standard)  

NUCLEAR: California researchers attempt to duplicate, extend and scale a successful nuclear fusion reaction they produced in December. (CNN)

BIOFUELS: A Montana refinery begins shipping aviation fuel produced from agricultural waste and used cooking oil to commercial airlines. (Biofuels Digest)

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Jonathan hails from southwestern Colorado and has been writing about the land, cultures, and communities of the Western United States for more than two decades. He compiles the Western Energy News digest. He is the author of three books, a contributing editor at High Country News, and the editor of the Land Desk, an e-newsletter that provides coverage and context on issues critical to the West.