Reporter | Energy, natural resources and sustainability

Walker Orenstein covers energy, natural resources and sustainability for the Star Tribune. Before that, he was a reporter at MinnPost and at news outlets in Washington state.

Walker Orenstein covers energy, natural resources and sustainability for the Star Tribune. Orenstein previously covered state government and politics with a focus on greater Minnesota and environmental issues for MinnPost, and he reported on the Legislature in Washington state for The News Tribune of Tacoma. He was raised in St. Paul and attended the University of Washington in Seattle. In his spare time, Orenstein enjoys playing hockey, hiking and camping..


Locked deep under the Iron Range, helium could float a startup company

Drillers looking for platinum and palladium stumbled on what may be a major helium reservoir in Minnesota. Now it could become a mine.


Xcel sells Becker land to Microsoft for data center, as it predicts major rise in energy demands

In a new long-range plan, Xcel predicted what amounts to a one-third spike in energy demand by 2040, a remarkable split from earlier estimates but one that mirrors national trends.


Minnesota regulators cut community solar bill credits to save money for Xcel customers

The decision is estimated to save roughly $40 million a year for ratepayers, but was fiercely contested by solar garden operators and subscribers, including many local governments and schools who will lose expected savings.


Polaris snowmobile rider, company charged after Alaska collision that killed 3 sled dogs

Alaska State Troopers said the man and Polaris have been charged with a single charge of reckless driving.


Xcel asks for more nuclear waste storage to operate Prairie Island until 2050s

Keeping the plant open an extra 20 years is a crucial part of Xcel's plan for a carbon-free energy grid, but its waste storage on the banks of the Mississippi River has drawn controversy.


Xcel plans higher electric rates during peak evening hours

The company tested the idea and says it could ease pressure on the electric grid and help it better use renewables. But one expert says Xcel's proposed rates are a "blunder waiting to happen."


Xcel Energy wants to extend life of Prairie Island nuclear facility, add two gas plants

The company's latest blueprint for generating electricity will be scrutinized by state regulators and outside groups as Xcel seeks to meet Minnesota's carbon-free law.


A pipeline for cow gas draws environmental support, ag concentration concerns

The PUC met at a bar in Benson, Minn., on Tuesday evening to hear citizen feedback on a plan to pump and sell biogas that could generate green energy.


Cliffs CEO lashes out at U.S. Steel in first major comments on Nippon deal

In fiery comments, Lourenco Goncalves said his company is the better choice for labor as he pressured the administration to block the $14.1 billion megadeal with Nippon of Japan.


Proposal would cut red tape so clean energy projects can be built faster in Minnesota

A potentially influential state task force, to move forward the 2040 carbon-free pledge, recommends a number of changes to the permitting process, but "prime farmland" rule likely to stay.