Energy news in brief

** This week’s bankruptcy of Murray Energy, the biggest privately owned coal company in the U.S. left retired coal miners wondering about the status of their pensions. Murray is the last large coal operator to pay into the pension fund of the United Mine Workers of America. Some believe Chapter 11 bankruptcy will allow the company to shed those obligations, thus affecting the pensions of 86,000 retirees.

** Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada said the Trump administration is understating the potential for the line to break and spill into water bodies such as Montana’s Missouri River, as the U.S. State Department held the sole public meeting Tuesday on a new environmental review of the long-stalled proposal.

** An ethanol plant in northwest Iowa  idled in September has started production again, thanks to increase bio-fuel action by the state of California. The new market opportunity came after California increased its use of ethanol to meet low-carbon fuel standards.

** A researcher at Iowa State University is using a more than $300,000 grant to find a cheaper and better way to repel ice on wind turbine blades. Ice can leader to a 50 percent drop in energy production or shutdowns of wind turbines.

** House Democrats blocked a vote Tuesday on a symbolic pro-fracking resolution sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to reaffirm that states retain regulatory authority over the practice on state and private lands. The resolution, H656, also insisted that any U.S. president be prohibited from issuing a moratorium on hydraulic fracking on federal lands.

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