Feds reject Dakota Access permit, suggest need for alternate route

PIPELINES: In a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and supporters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejects a key easement for the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, citing the need to explore alternative routes. (EnergyWire)

ALSO:
• Analysts and industry groups say the decision causes uncertainty for future pipeline projects because the developer had “undergone the necessary environmental reviews and permitting processes to move ahead with construction.” (Reuters)
• Protesters pledge to stay at the disputed site in North Dakota, citing uncertainty as President-elect Trump takes office. (Associated Press)

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U.S. companies urge Trump not to back out on climate deal

CLIMATE: More than 300 companies and investors urge President-elect Trump not to back out of the Paris climate agreement, saying “failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.” (New York Times)

ALSO: 
• How top Trump adviser Stephen Bannon drove climate conspiracies on the Breitbart News website. (InsideClimate News)
• At the Marrakech climate summit, U.S. officials unveil a plan to cut emissions 80 percent by 2050, emphasizing it is a “long-term vision.” (InsideClimate News)
• Climate advocacy groups report a spike in online donations following the election of Donald Trump. (Climate Central)

OIL AND GAS:
• The Interior Department cancels oil and gas leases on sacred Blackfeet land in Montana. (Washington Post)
• The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 20 billion barrels of oil are locked in a West Texas shale formation.

Challenges remain for developing Minnesota’s wood-fired power industry

WIND:
• Ohio state Sen. Bill Seitz continues to push for tougher restrictions on wind energy, which advocates say will further block development there. (Midwest Energy News)
• Landowners in South Dakota are in disagreement over the potential benefits of a proposed wind project, which would be the largest in the state. (Tri-State Neighbor)

BIOMASS: For economically struggling areas of northern Minnesota, wood-pellet plants offer an “intriguing possibility,” though significant challenges remain. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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NUCLEAR:
• The U.S. nuclear industry is “trying harder than ever to market itself as an irreplaceable ally in the war against climate change.” (Toledo Blade)
• An Illinois nuclear plant will hold a one-day exercise to test the emergency preparedness of the plant.

Dakota Access raises questions about fast-track pipeline approval

PIPELINES: Dakota Access pipeline protests draw scrutiny to a federal fast-track approval process; a 2013 project in Illinois raised similar questions. (Greenwire, Midwest Energy News archive) 

GRID:
• Rural co-ops in Illinois see expanding broadband internet access as a service opportunity as well as a way to better take advantage of smart grid technology. (Midwest Energy News)
• A Minnesota co-op awards a $15 million contract to install smart meters across its territory. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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Ohio utility planning $1 billion renewable energy investment

UTILITIES: A day after announcing a write-down of its coal plants, American Electric Power says it plans to invest $1 billion in renewable energy: “This stuff is real and it’s happening.” (Columbus Business First)

ALSO:
• A Minnesota utility seeks a rate increase, citing the need for new infrastructure to deliver clean energy to customers. (Duluth News Tribune)
• Grid operators develop plans to ensure adequate natural gas supplies to meet winter generation demands. (Utility Dive)

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Ohio utility continues backing away from unregulated power plants

UTILITIES: American Electric Power takes a $2.3 billion write-down of its Ohio coal plants, citing the state’s “deregulation debacle.” (Columbus Business First)

WIND:
• Amazon announces plans for a second wind farm in Ohio. (Columbus Dispatch)
• A public hearing this week will discuss a proposed offshore wind farm in Lake Erie. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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North Dakota may have seen its last oil boom

UTILITIES:
• How a dispute over demand charges – a fixed fee based on a homeowner’s peak usage – has become central to the debate over energy legislation in Illinois. (Midwest Energy News)
• FirstEnergy’s CEO reflects on the company’s weakened financial position. (Crain’s Cleveland Business)

OIL AND GAS:
• Why North Dakota may have seen its last oil boom. (EnergyWire)
• Illinois’ attorney general reaches a settlement with operators of a refinery over contamination of the Mississippi River. (St.

Most states fighting Clean Power Plan already on track to hit targets

CLIMATE: Most of the 27 states fighting the Clean Power Plan are already on track to meet their targets. (Reuters)

ALSO: Researchers say “it’s no longer appropriate” to say science can’t determine whether climate change is to blame for individual weather events. (InsideClimate News)

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GRID:
• A Wyoming data center will provide backup power to the state’s grid. (EnergyWire)
• Grid operators around the country are exploring a wide range of potential fixes to what’s known as the “duck curve” problem in which solar production and demand peaks don’t align. (Midwest Energy News)

UTILITIES:
• A major Nevada casino chain expects to start seeing a payback after seven years after leaving its utility.

Enbridge drops plans for Minnesota pipeline

NOTE TO READERS: Midwest Energy News is taking a break for Labor Day. The email digest will return on Tuesday, September 6. PIPELINES: Enbridge is no longer pursuing its proposed Sandpiper pipeline in Minnesota, saying the project is no longer needed. (Minnesota Public Radio)

ALSO:
• A federal judge refuses to stop work on the Dakota Access pipeline amid challenges from the Three Affiliated Tribes. (Associated Press)
• The Dakota Access project was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers despite objections from multiple federal agencies.

Iowa regulators approve nation’s largest wind project

WIND: Iowa regulators sign off on a 2 GW wind project, expected to be the nation’s largest. (Associated Press)

COAL:
• A recent court decision on pollution violations is the latest blow for a troubled Illinois coal plant. (Midwest Energy News)
• Advocates say Peabody Energy’s proposed settlement to fund mine cleanup still falls short but is a better deal than other states have seen. (St. Louis Public Radio)

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PIPELINES: A standoff protesting the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota is drawing Native American activists from all over the country. (Los Angeles Times)

OIL AND GAS:
• Drilling permits in Michigan are at their lowest level in 90 years amid low prices.