Daily Digest

Coal baron’s criminal trial points to a culture of neglect

BLANKENSHIP TRIAL:
• The federal government’s three-count indictment against coal baron Don Blankenship is sprinkled with memos suggesting a culture that did not take safety seriously. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• When he was CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship was warned about serious safety problems months before the 2010 explosion at the company’s Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 miners. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• A secret transcript that was briefly available on a public computer revealed how potential jurors are being questioned. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Charleston Gazette-Mail have filed a joint motion asking to witness jury selection. (West Virginia Public Broadcasting)
• Mine safety advocates hope the landmark case helps discourage other coal industry executives from condoning lawbreaking. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Blankenship is trying to force the company that now owns Massey Energy to pay his legal bills, which totaled more than $6 million through April 1. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

SOLAR:
• A Virginia hospital agrees to buy electricity from a solar development company which is building seven acres of solar panels nearby capable of tracking the sun. (The Roanoke Times)
• A community group in Augusta, Virginia is working to make community solar power systems more accessible to area residents. (Staunton News Leader)
• A growing number of farmers in Georgia are harvesting electricity through ground-mounted solar energy systems. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

RENEWABLES: A merger of  two energy service companies in Tennessee inspires them to target landfills and water treatment plants for renewable energy projects. (Knoxville News Sentinel)

UTILITIES:
Duke Energy is looking to own the solar systems it plans to build in Florida rather than buy solar-generated power from other companies, as it mostly does in North Carolina. (Charlotte Business Journal)
Why the Tennessee Valley Authority is about to retire a massive chunk of its coal-burning plants. (Slate)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Georgia Power completes 11 new EV charging stations across the state and plans to open 50 more by the end of 2016. (Utility Dive)

CLIMATE:
• Utilities and environmentalists alike in Virginia gird for the state’s long-awaited plan to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants to be unveiled Tuesday. (The Virginian-Pilot)
• A look back at the Florida climate summit organized by Al Gore and how he and Debbie Dooley amount to very strange bedfellows. (Saint Peters Blog)

NUCLEAR: A business group wants the South Carolina legislature to review the state’s law on nuclear plant construction costs. (Charlotte Business Journal)

WIND: North Carolina is moving forward with public hearings this week about wind turbines planned off its southeastern coastline. (Wilmington Star News)

ENERGY STORAGE: Why cheap natural gas is thwarting advances in energy storage. (The Washington Post)

PIPELINES: Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s stake in the company proposing to build the Sabal Trail pipeline is drawing scrutiny. (Florida Bulldog)

COAL: Citing environmental and economic reasons, clean air groups in Florida are pushing to close Lakeland Electric’s 364-megawatt coal-burning power plant. (Lakeland Ledger)

COAL ASH: Heavy rains trigger small leaks from coal ash lagoons but their dams appear to be holding. (Winston Salem-Journal)

GEORGIA: The Peach Tree State will have to work hard to meet the new ozone standards, but will have plenty of time to do it. (WABE Public Radio, Atlanta)

FRACKING: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signs into law a prohibition on any local regulations restricting fracking in the state. (Fayetteville Observer)

2010 BP OIL SPILL: The public could see details today of an $18 billion settlement aimed at resolving years of legal fighting over damage done by the Gulf of Mexico spill. (Associated Press)

POLICY: The EPA defends its decision to setting a new national ozone standard at 70 parts per billion. (Greenwire)

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: More than 20 unemployed or under-employed Memphis residents are the first graduates from the city’s Clean and Green Job Training Program. (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy)

POLITICS: Bill Clinton talked about helping coal miners with black lung disease and replacing lost coal jobs at an annual Democratic Party fundraiser. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

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