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SPOTLIGHT

1. REGULATION

Utilities prepare for carbon rules on operating power plants

Imposing greenhouse gas regulations on the nation's existing power plants is the main climate priority sought by environmental groups as President Obama begins a second term. But that move has been anticipated in the utility sector, and many of its members are prepared for it, according to industry officials.

2. TECHNOLOGY

Scientists find cheap method to purify water produced from oil and gas wells

Though water is one of the most abundant substances on the planet, much of it is hard to use: too salty to drink, too contaminated for crops or frozen away in ice. People need to expend energy to make this water usable. This is especially troublesome as water goes to work in hydraulic fracturing, in which millions of gallons of water flows underground to break apart rock formations, releasing oil and natural gas. Now researchers say they have a cheap, low-energy method to clean this "produced water."

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