CLIMATE: The Biden administration is freezing decisions on new federal oil and gas leases after a judge last week blocked an executive order updating the social cost of carbon. (New York Times)

ALSO:
• Legal experts continue to criticize the decision by Judge James Cain, a Trump appointee, with one likening it to “watching a toddler play with matches.” (The Hill)
• U.S. climate envoy John Kerry warns the Ukraine crisis could spike energy prices and build resistance to climate action. (ABC News)
• U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy blocks President Biden’s nominees to the EPA from frustration with the agency’s delays in approving carbon capture projects in Louisiana. (E&E News)

TRANSPORTATION: A company building a supersonic jet factory in North Carolina says its planes will emit net-zero carbon; sustainable aviation experts say the claim merits skepticism but could become true someday. (Energy News Network)

GRID:
• A new study shows switching to clean and renewable energy can help avoid electrical blackouts, perhaps even during intense weather events such as last year’s winter storm that nearly took down the Texas grid. (Washington Post)
• The market for home energy-storage systems is growing as homeowners seek to protect themselves against outages. (Wall Street Journal, subscription)
Southern California Edison plans to spend $1.7 billion this year on inspections, tree clearing and installing 1,100 miles of covered overhead lines to reduce the risk of its equipment sparking wildfires. (Bloomberg)

POLLUTION:
• EPA data released Friday shows carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the power sector increased last year over 2020, largely due to reliance on coal-fired power as natural gas prices rose. (E&E News)
• In a rural Pennsylvania county, some residents fight for a new public water pipeline and criminal charges against the oil and gas driller that fouled their drinking water aquifers. (Associated Press)

ELECTRIFICATION: A proposed Massachusetts code update would allow an option for continued use of fossil fuels in new construction, prompting municipalities to renew a push for legal authority to prohibit new natural gas hookups. (Energy News Network)

UTILITIES: An administrative law judge blocks a request from Ohio’s ratepayer advocate for an audit of nearly $460 million that FirstEnergy has collected from customers as a grid modernization charge. (Ohio Capital Journal)

WIND: Massachusetts’ Brayton Point, the home of a former coal-fired power plant, will soon host a subsea transmission cable manufacturing plant to support the growing offshore wind industry. (State House News Service)

MATERIALS: The Department of Defense is planning to increase its stockpile of rare earth elements – which are used in weapons in addition to batteries – to reduce dependence on China. (Reuters)

COMMENTARY:
• “Corn is king, and it turns out he’s an authoritarian ruler,” an Iowa columnist writes of the corn industry’s lobbying to discourage farmland preservation as well as utility-scale solar projects. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
• Texas conservatives hoping to score political points by blaming wind energy for the grid’s near-failure last year are not just wrong but may undercut the state’s sweeping success so far in building out the industry, writes an editorial board. (Dallas Morning News)

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.