Opinion

The Energy Gang podcast: Lessons from the Texas power crisis

A chain reaction set off by one initial event

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The domino effect – it’s a chain reaction set off by one initial event. The catastrophic blackouts that plagued Texas last year during the winter storm Eerie, were a result of a logistical domino effect. Much of the sustainability, energy, and political issues today are never as simple as cause and effect. There is always a network of decisions and actions that lead up to that initial fall of the domino. A more timely example is the current Russia and Ukraine conflict. The Energy Gang is not a show that usually focuses on geopolitics but it would be remiss to ignore the current situation in Ukraine, and the impact the conflict has had already on the world of energy.

In this week’s episode, Ed Crooks is joined by returning guest Emily Chasan, of General Capital and we welcome Joshua Rhodes for his Energy Gang debut. Joshua is a professor at the University of Texas, Austin. He joins the show to discuss the Texas Blackouts and explain what has been done since to avoid it happening again. He helps explain the initial fall of the domino and the subsequent chain reaction that took place. Emily and the rest of the Gang then touch on the situation in Eastern Europe and how energy policies come into play. How does the current conflict affect the net-zero pledges just made only a few months ago at COP26?

The episode then leads into a debate on a new hydropower pipeline that has been proposed in NY state. This pipeline would be 330 miles long and run from Canada's border directly to New York City. What are some of the environmental concerns of hydropower? Is hydropower considered low carbon?

The final topic discussed is the recent announcement of the US army’s climate action plan. This never-before-seen plan is a pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This climate action plan follows the 2020 DOD report on climate change that publicly stated that “climate change is an existential threat to the US’s security”. How much does the US army emit every year? What does sustainability look like for a military? How will this strengthen our military?

It’s a packed and thorough discussion this week on the Energy Gang.

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