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The Texas Tribune: regulators rushed to defend the oil and gas industry amid crisis

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit media organization in Austin, has reported deeply about what went wrong during the February winter storm that led to massive, deadly power outages in the state.

In its latest investigation, Erin Douglas and Mitchell Ferman go behind the scenes with public records to report on internal conversations between the oil and gas industry and state regulatorswho were concerned about the sector's image from early on. Listen as Emily Holden interviews the two reporters about how Republicans joined the industry to wrongly shift blame to wind power.

From the story:

Emails, tweets and public statements from the state commissioners during the Texas power crisis show that the elected regulators expressed immediate worry about the storm’s impact on the image of the agency and the industry it regulates — the industry that funds much of their political campaigns. At times, commissioners retweeted or emphasized the same talking points published by the Texas Oil and Gas Association, one of the state’s largest trade associations. They testified at public hearings and made public statements pushing back against criticisms of the natural gas industry’s role in the February power outages. And in some cases, they attempted to redirect blame from the fossil fuel industry to wind power — a narrative that quickly gained traction among Texas Republicans on social media.

If you enjoy this audio interview and think we should do more like it, please let us know at And a big thanks to Pavni Mittal, who produced this segment.

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