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NASCAR has announced that an ethanol blend will become the mandatory fuel for every car competing in the Sprint, Nationwide and Truck circuits in 2011. The cars will use Sunoco Green E15 ethanol blend.

“If it’s good enough for Jimmie Johnson, it’s good enough for me,” said Dave Fremark, president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. 

•NPR’s Howard Berkes continued his coverage of the  Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster with an interview this week with the twin brother of a man killed in the April explosion. 

Berkes reported:

Gene and Dean Jones were so close in their mother’s womb doctors detected just a single heartbeat.

“I was 10 minutes older than Dean,” Gene said. “It’s like part of me is gone.”

“I think about him every day,” Gene said from a conference room at Appalachian Power in Beckley, where he works as an electrical engineer. His hazel eyes welled with tears. “So I work a lot not to think about it.”

•Rural schools have received about one-fourth of the $3.5 billion in School Improvement Grants issued this year by the U.S. Department of Education. That would mean that rural schools are getting about their share of the grants for school improvement.

Education Week’s Alyson Klein reports that many rural school advocates have argued that school improvement models set out by the DOE often aren’t applicable to rural areas. It’s hard for a small district to close a school or fire a principal. 

Most rural schools receiving the grants are using less drastic measures, according to Klein.

• A California county is moving to protect “dark night skis” in rural communities. The The Board of Supervisors in Pasadena to draft regulations that would preserve dark skies.

“Dark night skies are one of the many qualities that set rural areas apart from urban and suburban communities,” the proposal from supervisors Michael Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky states. 

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