CLIMATE: The U.S. officially rejoins the Paris Agreement today, though officials acknowledge more will need to be done to make up for four years of inaction under the Trump administration. (Associated Press, NBC News)

ALSO:
• While scientists have warned that cold snaps like the one that upended the Texas power grid this week are a predictable consequence of climate change, others want more information before making the link. (Vox)
• NASCAR team Roush Fenway Racing announces that it has achieved carbon neutrality, which it will celebrate Sunday with a paint scheme for Ryan Newman’s car. (Associated Press, news release)

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GRID:
• Texas was “seconds and minutes” away from a complete grid collapse that could have left people without power for months, officials say. (Texas Tribune)
• The U.S. Senate energy committee will hold a hearing on electric grid reliability sparked by this week’s mass outages across the Southeast. (The Hill)
• A 2017 report warned of the nation’s grid vulnerabilities, noting “no single entity … has the authority to implement a comprehensive approach to assure the resilience of the nation’s electricity system.” (E&E News)
• Federal regulators end a long-running proceeding on grid resilience that stemmed from a failed 2018 proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants that stored fuel on site, signaling a shift to focus on mandatory winterization instead. (S&P Global)

EQUITY: Hispanic and Black neighborhoods in Texas, already stressed by the pandemic, are now being disproportionately affected by winter weather and power outages because they are more likely to have older homes with more vulnerable infrastructure and less access to food options. (Texas Tribune)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Owners of electric cars in Texas tell how they used their vehicles for warmth and electricity during widespread outages this week. (Vice) 

OIL & GAS:
• The deep influence of the oil and gas industry — which has given $26 million to the campaigns of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — looms large over the state government’s response to this week’s electric outage. (Associated Press)
• The CEO of shale driller Comstock Resources says “this week is like hitting the jackpot” as prices soared amid the crisis. (NPR)
• A Texas regulator concludes that Abbott’s order to retain all oil and gas produced in the state until Sunday appears to be unenforceable. (Reuters)

PIPELINES:
• Advocates cite numerous failings in the judicial system that put Indigenous women at increased risk of sexual assault and abduction by transient workers on pipelines and other projects. (Vice)
• Indigenous residents in northern Minnesota say state officials’ support for the Line 3 pipeline is a “perpetuation of cultural genocide.” (The Guardian)
• A criminal case involving alleged intimidation of pipeline protesters by private security along the Mariner East project in Pennsylvania is likely to end with no convictions. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

UTILITIES:
• Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigns after 50 years in office and amid a federal corruption investigation involving utility ComEd. (Chicago Tribune)
• In a filing to financial regulators, FirstEnergy says it has discovered transactions dating back a decade were improperly classified, misallocated, or lacked proper documentation, though it did not provide details. (WOSU)
• FirstEnergy officials say they are taking steps to “rebuild our reputation and our brand” amid a flurry of legal and regulatory action against the company, and that it has stopped contributions to political and nonprofit advocacy groups. (E&E News, subscription; Akron Beacon Journal)

POLICY: Indiana lawmakers advance bills to standardize renewable energy regulations and provide financing for coal plant closures, though clean energy and consumer advocates have concerns about both bills. (Energy News Network)

STORAGE: An energy forecast projects 8.5 GW of new energy storage in the U.S. in 2021, but only “marginal improvement” in the pace of clean-energy adoption. (Utility Dive)

COMMENTARY:
• Power system experts warn the Texas outage “isn’t a black swan event” and will reoccur unless steps are taken to make the grid more resilient to extreme weather. (Washington Post)
• In an analysis, a reporter compares the Texas outages to response to other natural disasters, noting a political dynamic that discourages politicians from spending to prepare for uncommon events. (Washington Post)
• Advocates from the Rocky Mountain Institute describe how clean energy can make the grid more resilient while helping stave off the worst impacts of climate change. (CleanTechnica)

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.