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Climate Adaptation

After Texas Crisis, Biden’s Climate Plan Hangs on Fragile Power Grid

Preventing the next energy nightmare and curbing America’s carbon emissions will require spending billions to remake the nation’s grids. 

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Pump jacks and power lines in Midland, Texas this month where a brutal cold wave drove record electricity demand.

Pump jacks and power lines in Midland, Texas this month where a brutal cold wave drove record electricity demand.

Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

The millions of people who struggled to keep warm in Texas, with blackouts crippling life inside a dominant energy hub, have laid bare the desperate state of U.S. electricity grids. To fix nationwide vulnerabilities, President Joe Biden will have to completely reimagine the American way of producing and transmitting electricity. 

Biden wants to overhaul the nation’s grids so they derive all electricity from carbon-free sources by 2035—a major step toward zeroing out net emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century. Realizing that goal will require building billions of dollars worth of new transmission lines, a challenge that might prove just as difficult as getting his climate agenda through Congress.