Lisa Friedman (New York Times) & Steve Mufson (Washington Post)

Host Bill Loveless sits down with Lisa Friedman of The New York Times and Steve Mufson of The Washington Post to discuss the impact of President Trump's first year in office on energy and environment policy in the United States, and what may lie in store this year. 

Among many topics Bill, Lisa and Steve discuss, several include: how effective the administration has been in implementing its energy and environment agenda; prospects for U.S. carbon regulation and the Paris climate agreement; how change has occurred at the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Energy and Interior; what new policies may mean for the oil, natural gas, coal, renewable energy and other energy sectors; actions by the newly constituted Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and what it takes to effectively cover complex issues like energy and the environment.

 

View the full transcript

[00:00:01]

Bill Loveless:  Hello! I’m Bill Loveless with the Columbia Energy Exchange, a weekly podcast from the Center on Global Policy at Columbia University.  Before we get to today’s show; I want to make a pitch for the Center’s Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative.  Some of you might be familiar with it, we launched it last year as part of the Center’s mission to enhance the global energy dialogue, we recognized the importance of journalism to education the public and also importantly to education policymakers and decision makers and help them make informed choices about energy and related issues.  That’s why this initiative is built specifically to acquaint energy journalist with various disciplines associated with energy and the environment, things like markets, policy, geopolitics and science.

To do this, the Center on Global Energy Policy is hosting a four day all expenses paid seminar for about 20 energy journalists in New York this summer, June to be exact.  The deadline for applications is February 2nd, so if you are reporter looking to build your expertise in this field or know someone who would benefit from this program, go to our website, energypolicy.columbia.edu and click on the energy journalism initiative page for more information.

Now, on to our show.  It’s been a year since President Trump took this oath of office, promising to make American great again by turning upside-down the policies of the Obama administration.  Energy and the environment are among the areas where his administration is so to make its biggest impact.  How successful has he been?  And what's in-store for 2018?  To get some answers, I turned to two of the leading energy and environmental reporters in Washington and for that matter in the United States; Lisa Friedman of the New York Times and Steve Mufson of the Washington Post.

Lisa reports on climate and environmental policy at the Times and over the course of her journalism career she has covered eight international climate talks and chased climate relate stories from the bottom of the Chinese coal mine to the top of the Himalaya Mountains.  Previously she worked at Climatewire where she led reporters on the business and politics of climate change.  She is also a former Washington Bureau Chief for the Oakland Tribune and the Los Angeles Daily News.

Steve Mufson covers energy and financial matters at the Post.  Since joining the paper in 1989 he has reported on the Whitehouse, China, economic policy and diplomacy.  Earlier he spent six years at The Wall Street Journal in New York, London and Johannesburg and wrote a book about the 1980s upraising and South Africa’s Black Townships.  We sat down during a break in their deadline routines in Washington.

[00:00:00 - 00:00:20]

[00:00:20]

Lisa Friedman from the New York Times, Steve Mufson from the Lisa Friedman – thank you Steve.  Lisa Friedman from the New York Times, Steve Mufson from the Washington Post, thanks for being with me here on the Columbia Energy Exchange.

[00:00:34]

Steve Mufson:  Good to be here.

[00:00:34]

Lisa Friedman:  Thanks for having us.

[00:00:36]

Bill Loveless:  During the 2016 election candidate Donald Trump promised to make substantial change in energy and environmental policy if he reached the Whitehouse.  Well, he did and we've seen a lot happened over the past year that he has been in office now.  How effective, Lisa, has he been in making these changes when it comes to energy in the environment?

[00:00:59]

Lisa Friedman:  Yeah.  I mean it’s been Tsunami, and I actually think that when I look across the spectrum of all the things that the Trump administration has done, I think they’ve probably been more effective on energy and climate than they have in almost any other realm.  I mean there have been set backs in the courts and we can talk about some of those, but beyond the kind of high profile, kind of sexier, more visible stuff like taking climate change down off of all of the websites and Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA, calling for a rethinking of the science behind climate change and propositioning a red team, blue team debate.

There has been – I should have counted this before we came, but there has been so many regulatory roll backs that have started last year from the Clean Power Plan to methane to revisiting and thinking about revisiting auto standards that – I think they are starting to transform this are more than any other successfully.

[00:02:12]

Bill Loveless:  Interesting.  Steve, do you see it the same way, has been as effective in this area, more effective in this area than perhaps he has been in other areas of policy?

[00:02:20]

Steve Mufson:  Yeah.  I think that’s true.  I think there are lots of concrete things he is able to do.  I would say that some of these things will take time to implement, so for example when he says he wants to allow offshore drilling along the Atlantic Coast, that’s going to take some time to get into a plan and then to have lease sales and all that environmental groups we fighting in the court.  So, not everything he has talked about has taken place yet, but it is only been one year, and he has got three years to go.  And I think that environmentalist have a lot to be concerned about here.

[00:02:59]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  They really began right away at the environmental protection agency where Scott Pruitt came in and he may he more focused than just about anyone in the cabinet in getting his job done.  I mean, we saw very early one some changes that he intended to make and at the agency and pretty much got off the ground with a running start, I think.

[00:03:19]

Lisa Friedman:  Yeah, I agree.  I mean – and you can debate whether how methodical it’s been, there has certainly been a lot of big, high profile announcements of rollbacks that have not necessarily like Steve was say, some are going to take long time, some had a flourish announcement with the President signing an executive order that have been fought by the courts.  But, he did a lot, he did a lot quickly, he is moving fast, and even things that are getting some pushback, he has already gotten sort of the media hype of being out there saying he is saving coal, he is tearing down the Clean Power Plan, which was President Obama’s signature regulation to curb emissions from Power Plans.

[00:04:11]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  He advised the President, persuaded the President if he needed any persuading to turn his back on the Paris Climate court.

[00:04:18]

Lisa Friedman:  Right.  And again, so none of these things have actually happened, the Clean Power Plans still exist, we are still in the Paris Agreement, but –

[00:04:25]

Steve Mufson:  But, I think it is already having an impact for example the number of people leaving EPA, who are career people with lot of experience, that’s not – that’s real, and it doesn’t require court settlement or regulation or anything like that.  I think that there is another big blow on the way, when we have a real budget that has some President’s imprint upon it.  And, that could be another setback when that happens, because they propose zeroing out all sort of agencies of that science and climate, they won't necessarily get it zeroed out of course but they could make a big dent, and that’s what we had to see, but should see soon.

[00:05:14]

Bill Loveless:  The thing that the President was most keen on seems when it comes to environment policy and energy policy is saving coal.  You have each written stories about Robert Mori for example, the head of the Mori Coal, Mori Energy, who seemed rather prominent in the administration’s policy making decisions, I recall a headline in the New York Times, Lisa, that was something along the lines of the memo that Mori wrote for the President because in effect the memo for energy policy.

[00:05:48]

Lisa Friedman:  You are mangling my great headline Bill Loveless –

[00:05:49]

Bill Loveless:  Please tell me what it was.

[00:05:50]

Lisa Friedman:  How a Coal Baron's Wish List Became President Trump's To-Do List.  And Steve of course wrote about this early too, when photographs were leaked that showed this memo.  And for a long time DOE refused to release the memo and that’s where you refer to is what finally came out.  But, yes.  I mean to the coal questions, Mr.  Mori has been an enormous supporter of President Trump’s, and President Trump in turn has taken every opportunity to declare his affection for and intent to save the coal industry and bring it back.  And I think there is a lot o question about whether that is indeed happening, but we have seen that whole country is deeply appreciative of these moves.

[00:06:53]

Bill Loveless:  Right.  Yeah.  And you see it in terms of stories all the time just reading today, a story on election coming up in Pennsylvania for a vacant house seat, and it’s in coal whole country and how will that play out.  But, it’s still been a – coal has seen somewhat of a bump up in 2017, whether it’s attributable to Mr.  Trump’s policies or not I guess it’s debatable, but the predictions are that’s not going to continue to happen for that particular commodity.

[00:07:20]

Steve Mufson:  No, the energy department has just come out with a short term forecast saying that this is a brief blip that coal will drop a little bit this year and it’ll drop more the next year.  Its path is pretty well set; no one has built a new coal fired power plant in United States for quite a number of years.  The average age of the plants is over 40, so it seems inevitable that we are going to use less coal regardless of what the administration says about the Clean Power Plan.

[00:07:52]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  And it – but nevertheless it remains an important objective of the administration.  We saw it recently in terms of the proposal that the Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry made to the Environmental Protection Agency for some form of payment for old coal plants as well as nuclear plants to keep them online for –

[00:08:15]

Steve Mufson:  That was actually FERC, not EPA.

[00:08:17]

Bill Loveless:  I’m sorry.  That’s right.

[00:08:19]

Steve Mufson:  And, it was an effort to prop up really just a handful of companies, so I think that’s one reason why he didn’t get it through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it was just such a naked effort it seemed I think to a lot of people to benefit a relatively small number of people while raising grades for a large number people.  So, I think that’s an interesting case, because four out of the five commissioners who rejected that plan were appointed by Donald Trump.

[00:08:55]

Bill Loveless:  Right.  It was seen as a setback for the administration.

[00:08:59]

Lisa Friedman:  And I point out that Rob Mori, one of his to-do lists – on his to-do list, one of his points was to install new FERC commissioners after the decision, so they should all be fired and they obviously forgot who appointed them.

[00:09:16]

Steve Mufson:  I think when talking about the coal issue, it’s important to remember just how few coal workers there are in a lot of these constituencies.  And that the President’s appeal to the coal industry and the coal workers is really something that’s substitute for saying people who are blue collar workers who are struggling and they might not be actually coal workers he is appealing to, but their – that’s become a sort of stand-in for this broader group of people who have been an important part of his support, but don’t necessarily have anything to do with the coal industry.

[00:10:02]

Bill Loveless:  Right.  Yeah, it is just been an issue that’s continued for some time.  I think back on the Paris Agreement, Lisa, is – and you have covered a number of these international climate meetings, where is this headed now?  I mean the President certainly laid the ground it seems last year for abandoning the deal, but as you say we are not out of it, what happens now?

[00:10:27]

Lisa Friedman:  Yeah.  Okay.  So, in the summer of last year, President Trump after a lot of back and forth with his own administration announced that US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement.  The US – no country can pull out of the Paris Agreement until the day after the election in 2020.  And so, they have said that until then they will continue to negotiate to be at these UN Climate Meetings that happen every year, so one I did, like in the US to a spouse who demands a divorce, but continues to live at home, right.

I mean they are still going to these negotiations, they are still pushing for certain things like transparency and accountability, but yet saying that we will not work towards the target that President Obama had said, which was to reduce emissions 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.  And, President Trump has said a number of things including just last week when he met with the – we need to – okay, I’m going to have to look this up.

[00:11:42]

Bill Loveless:  Go ahead.

[00:11:42]

Lisa Friedman:  You are not fast, because the court is just too good, and I cannot do a justice.  But, he met with the Prime Minister of Norway and said some confounding things which –

[00:11:57]

Bill Loveless:  This was a meeting at the Whitehouse last week with the Prime Minister.

[00:12:02]

Lisa Friedman:  It was.  He basically said – I can't find him, let him getting nervous looking for while we are talking, he said I don’t have a problem with it, but I have a problem with what we signed, so we could get back in.

[00:12:17]

Bill Loveless:  Right.

[00:12:18]

Lisa Friedman:  It left all of us who cover these things, reading and rereading, but fundamentally what I – what piece consistently, yet confusingly said is that the US is pulling out a less – there are some means or ability for a better deal.  And, not only does no one know what that means, it is an open question about whether the administration knows what that means or whether the administration has any – had any really conversations about what it would take to get the US back in or whether there is a new real interest in finding out what those things are.

[00:12:59]

Bill Loveless:  Right.  I know – and it is much of an impact though from this indecision on the part of administration, I mean some would argue those – who support the agreement say it’s a setback, more could be done by the government right now to support the goals sets by the previous administration, government policy is important, some would argue.  But, Steve, I mean does it really – it is – how much is it matter that the administration is sort of still sort in the South?

[00:13:31]

Steve Mufson:  Well, I would say two things; one is that on climate, there is still a lot of momentum at state levels, 29 states in the District of Columbia have renewable portfolio standards or electricity standards which mandate that certain percentage of electricity needs that come from clean energy and renewable energy or hydro resources.  So, I think that is going to keep going, and that will also affect things like fuel efficiency issues, because the State of California has requirements that are stiffer than those, the federal government and automobile companies want to sell cars in California.

So, I think there is still some momentum regardless of what President Trumps says.  However, it will only go so far, and I think an important thing to remember while the President is fumbling around is that part of their strategy in other areas is to simply not enforce things.  So, you properly point out that we can't tactically withdraw until after the election, but it doesn’t mean he can stop doing things and it’s little bit like Pruitt’s actions on various things.

He can't get the regulation revoke, but they bill stop enforcing it.  So, then people have to go to court, not to block him from doing something, but to try to get him to do something.  And we saw this once before during the George W.  Bush administration, when they didn’t enforce mercury regulations and ultimately ended up in court and being ordered by the Supreme Court to come up with something.  So, I think that there is – there is a lot of potential for that plot to be rerun during the Trump era.

[00:15:36]

Bill Loveless:  Right.

[00:15:37]

Lisa Friedman:  I mean in the case of the Paris Agreement the question is going to be what other countries will do, I mean right after the Paris Agreement announcement and through the end of the year, we saw other countries really sort of step up to the plate, right, I mean this fear that other countries would abandon their pledges has not come true, China just announced a carbon market –

[00:16:03]

Bill Loveless:  Meanwhile two countries – the only other two countries – the only two countries that were not part the agreement Nicaragua and Syria joined.

[00:16:09]

Lisa Friedman:  Right.  However, I mean all that said –

[00:16:12]

Steve Mufson:  Inspirational models for us all –

[00:16:15]

Lisa Friedman:  And the American [phonetic] [00:16:15] made it a huge part of the G20, but even having said all that, that’s year one, right, that’s in the months after Trump made the announcement.  So, I think it’s important to sort of keep an eye on this and see does the G20 make a big deal about climate change in Trump’s third year or his seventh?

[00:16:41]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  But she is –

[00:16:42]

Lisa Friedman:  Do they keep the pressure on or not?

[00:16:44]

Bill Loveless:  But I get the impression, Lisa, from your reporting recently that you think that this only – this attention to environmental issues is only going to pick up and the fear of mangling and other one over the great headlines put on your stories, there was one recently that said expect environmental battles to be even more significant in 2018, what did you mean by that?

[00:17:05]

Lisa Friedman:  Well, I think what we are hearing from a lot of folks is – I’m pausing because initially we thought maybe we’d get in to ease into 2018, and that didn’t happen for anyone who covers Washington.  But, we saw a big announcement with drilling and there will be announcements coming, but for the most part I think this year is going to be about two things, one sort of the courts and the regulatory efforts to – of the administration to continue rolling back or delaying regulations.  And then also in areas that don’t involve executive orders, dealing with the Endangered Species Act or NEPA, and I hope you don’t ask me what that stands for, because I’m not going to be able to do it off the top if my head.

[00:18:03]

Bill Loveless:  National Environmental Policy Act.

[00:18:05]

Lisa Friedman:  Bingo! So, these are somewhat quieter issues that don’t get as much attention sometimes as taking climate change down off of Federal websites, but they are critical to environmental protection.  And, I think you see a lot of environmental groups right now, who are really worried that the next changes coming down the pike are going to be some fundamental changes to environmental laws.

[00:18:36]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  But, it’s interesting.  I mean, we have gotten off to a fast this year on energy environmental issue, there was the decision as you mentioned, Steve, at the FERC turning aside Secretary Perry’s proposal on coal and nuclear Power Plans, there was as you mentioned Lisa, the announced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on the offshore leasing plan which would open up almost all of federal coastal waters to oil and gas development in coming years.  And, as we speak, we are waiting word I guess on the possibility on Paris on solder imports, we haven't seen that yet as of today, but we know that’s coming sometime soon.  So, the pace may be picking up a bit with mixed results for administration so far.

[00:19:22]

Steve Mufson:  I think the pace I going to be pretty steady.  And it had some setbacks, but not as many as you might have thought and I think it remains to be seen just how much of help that courts will be.

[00:19:41]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  I get the impression, it’s going to be as you guys say in – a lot of this going to be decided in the courts and a lot is still going to be decided in the regulatory bodies, I mean for – I know in recent years people said, well nothing ever happens in Washington, congress doesn’t do anything, but in fact regulatory bodies, the FERC, the Interior department, EPA, to one extent or another in different administrations have had a lot to say about the outlook for energy and environmental policy in the United States.

And, it still seems like that may be the case.  FERC for example with a new group of commissioners and all that seems would be in a position to say a lot about the approval of new pipelines, transmission lines, these sorts of things.

[00:20:21]

Steve Mufson:  Yeah.  FERC of course has authority over gas pipelines and a lot of other elements, the electricity grid, and it’s an interesting sample, but I’m not sure how typically it will be, because this is a case in which the President’s request flew in the face of trends that had been going on at FERC for a couple of decades.  And, that is the trend to increase the competitiveness of electricity markets that has have the support of democrats, but definitely has had the support of Republicans.

So, there is – I think it was pretty clear that the commission was going to vote at least three to two against Secretary Perry’s idea in the end they voted five to zero although one of those five, I think is just waiting to come back at it in a different way.

[00:21:13]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  Commissioner Chatterjee.

[00:21:14]

Steve Mufson:  Yeah.  That’s right.  But, I think it’s – it was an interesting case, because it showed that there are Republicans on the other side even on these issues from the President, but I’m not sure how typically that FERC experience will be in other areas.

[00:21:31]

Lisa Friedman:  Well, I mean take the Clean Power Plan, I mean this is slightly different, but you are seeing – so, administrate of Pruitt started the process last year of repealing the Clean Power Plan.  And then took very initial steps at creating a new narrower, Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions at Power Plans.  And what's been interesting about that is that you’ve really seen business and utilities and Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufactures and all of these groups that brought to denial again the Clean Power Plan, turn around and tell the administration, we do want something, we - we do need to have something in place.

And so, part of that is because there exists something called the Endangerment Finding at 2009 ruling by the EPA that says – that finds that greenhouse gas emission are harmful to human health –

[00:22:46]

Bill Loveless:  And it seems to be no interest – no apatite in the administration for taking on the Endangerment Finding, why is that?

[00:22:53]

Lisa Friedman:  Reading New York Times at this week.  I think it’s a combination of things, I don’t know that there is no appetite, I think we've seen administration of Pruitt it call it a question, the Endangerment Finding multiple times.  He is definitely under pressure from his – from conservatives, from those who deny that climate change is real, is manmade, is harmful to rollback the Endangerment Finding, this is the Holy Grill, I mean a lot of folks in the climate skeptic community believe that if you take this away, you have all the EPA’s ability to ever create more climate policies or regulate greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide.

The opposition to that comes from a couple of direction, one is business saying this is going to be a massive legal fight, we are not sure we want to look like climate deniers in 2018, and we don’t know that we necessarily need to attack the Endangerment Finding in order to get the regulatory relief that we seeks.  So, Pruitt is caught in the middle, and that will be one of the things to look at this year about whether he does take this on or not.

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Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  Seems like that may be one of the bigger issues this year.

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Lisa Friedman:  If he does, it would be a very big deal.  I mean this would be – this is something that The Heartland Institute, The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been earning for a long time.

[00:24:39]

Bill Loveless:  There was time not so long ago when republicans and democrats could get together and agree on energy policy or environmental policy as well, we saw this recently is 2005, 2007 when congress passed energy bills, comprehensive energy bills, President Bush signed them, like even during the being of Obama administration I recall, there seem to be at least a suggestion that maybe the Obama administration could strike a deal on climate change legislation by also offering to do something on expanded offshore oil and gas drilling, of course that fell apart.

[00:25:12]

Lisa Friedman:  It feels like so long ago.

[00:25:13]

Bill Loveless:  It does seems like so long ago.  And of course what happened at that time was we had the deep water arisen incident and that sort of one of the things that put the kibosh on all those efforts, but I mean we are so far away from ever doing anything, what this – can, Steve, seeing sort of step in and it’s been 10 years since these things have been looked at in a big way.

[00:25:33]

Steve Mufson:  Well, we did have bill that had some energy efficiency measures in it, but –

[00:25:38]

Bill Loveless:  Senator Murkowski’s bill.

[00:25:41]

Steve Mufson:  And Portman involved in that t was apartment –

[00:25:42]

Bill Loveless:  Portman in Ohio.

[00:25:43]

Steve Mufson:  - also, but I think that part of what's also happening is that the energy industry has seen some of the same patterns in congress that other people have seen, it’s become more of a partisan issue, the Americans are truly _____ [00:26:02] in this last cycle gave 85% of its contributions to republicans, which some people thing is not necessarily the healthiest thing to do if you are trying to get by partisan legislation approved.  So, I think that’s a big part of the problem as well.

[00:26:20]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  I interviewed Senator Lisa Murkowski the other day for an upcoming podcast and she still holds out hope of getting her comprehensive energy bill through – got 85 votes in the senate a couple of years ago, but couldn’t get through the house of representatives, but still even not –

[00:26:38]

Steve Mufson:  She did get her hand over drilling –

[00:26:39]

Bill Loveless:  Yes, she did in a big way.

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Lisa Friedman:  And I wonder what pushing that through has done to her ability to attract to have partisan support –

[00:26:46]

Bill Loveless:  Interesting, yeah they cause more trouble certainly the ranking member of the energy community, Senator Cantwell of Washington is not happy over the ANWR legislation.

[00:26:56]

Lisa Friedman:  Yeah.  And she noted several times that in the effort you craft in energy bill that just never came up.  So, this was clearly an opportunity to get something – get it through, and –

[00:27:12]

Bill Loveless:  So to say, it’s may be more on the positive side for the Trump administration on energy environmental policy in terms of some accomplishments opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would certainly be one of them.  The at least the makings of a big offshore oil and gas drilling plan as well as may be pushing back on lot of the regulation that had be in plan during the Obama administration has been a shift in that direction one that I would think the administration could look on is having been a positive result for it to some extent.

[00:27:45]

Steve Mufson:  I mean if you look back at the Obama administration and things really didn’t work out that badly for the oil and gas industry, he didn’t do anything to compete the incredible serge or shale drilling, drilling rigs were at the back at the same number in the Gulf of Mexico on year, as they had been one year earlier before the BP spill.  He lifted the oil export ban.  So, and of course – he gave pretty speedy approval to people who wanted to export liquefied natural gas.  So, and a lot of very important issues at the industry, Obama really wasn’t that bad.

And, I think there was a lot of criticism of Obama from the industry for not doing even more and that had to do with I think partly environmental issues, which really I think may be Mori does, that’s huge of an impediment the industry has made out at that time, curious to see how they think about it and retrospect at some point.

[00:29:02]

Bill Loveless:  Right.

[00:29:03]

Lisa Friedman:  And at the end of the day, even Exxon asked the administration to stay in the Paris agreement –

[00:29:08]

Steve Mufson:  Right.

[00:29:09]

Bill Loveless:  Right.  What about infrastructure?  I mean some say that may be a big issue this year, many thought it would be last year, it wasn’t, but if it is, is energy a big part of that or any part of that?

[00:29:18]

Lisa Friedman:  Oh! It’s a huge part of that.  I mean, everything from the Endangered Act and need the – some of the issue we talked about for, I think there is a lot of concerns that within an infrastructure, a potential infrastructure bill that’s where you could see a lot of environmental sphere efforts to ignore or circumvent some of the lands, protections to get things built, then on – I think an equally large scale, you have these questions of whether where we to do a massive infrastructure bill, the roads and bridges that we build are going to withstand climate warmed world.  I mean, currently infrastructure throughout the country is not prepared for raising sea levels or nuisance flooding for all kinds of threats that are faced and if we are going to have a massive build out, is there going to be any effort to bake in protections or does the resistance to even acknowledging climate change, create another hurdle for –

[00:30:43]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah.  And certainly the severe weather we've seen in 2017, the hurricanes, the wildfires, Texas, Puerto Rico, California raise questions about – it gives an opportunity if nothing else to ask questions about infrastructure and how resilient it is.

[00:30:59]

Lisa Friedman:  Yeah, 100%.

[00:31:01]

Bill Loveless:  Well, one thing as I mentioned at the outset of the today’s podcast is at the Center on Global Energy Policy, we are in the midst of conducting our second energy journalism initiative and that of course for journalist who are relatively new to beat to come in and we are bringing them to New York in June and give them some – help them understand in a deeper way, some of the disciplines associated with energy, such as markets, finance trading, geopolitics, policy science, those sort of things.

You always benefit too from what your peers and doing in the business, so you guys have been in covering energy in the environment for some time now, if you were seeded looking at these 20 or so journals who will be there in June, what advice would you have for people like them who are just sort of getting their start in energy journalism?

[00:31:56]

Steve Mufson:  Well, that’s a tough one.  But, I think apart from doing the things you need to do, they get to get into the journalism business.  I think what makes energy reporting different is that it’s such an incredibly wide verity of subjects you need to know, in order to do an effective job.  I mean, in a relatively few years, I've needed to know about petroleum engineering and geological structures, and study politics and US congressional politics, something about climate signs, just an incredible number of things that I think are brought to bear when you are writing about energy on a broad scale.

And I think being as well rounded and prepared, it is one of the best things we can do.

[00:32:50]

Lisa Friedman:  Yeah.  I think we are leaded in the same direction, because I was thinking about it when you are about it earlier, and I didn’t know if you would be upset if I said cover other things.  But, I mean I came to cover the climate change and energy about 10 years ago, and it was after I covered cops and courts in Vegas, and after I covered in City Hall in Bakersfield, and after I covered congress and the changes to alternative minimum tax and the fight over the Iraq war, and all of those things help you connect the dots later when you are covering this incredibly complicated bead that is about everything.

That’s – when I write about climate change, it heels having covered immigration when I – it helps to have written about intellectual property laws, when we are writing about clean technology issues board, and so I suppose I would double down on Steve’s advice and say go broad and go big and cover everything you can.

[00:34:06]

Bill Loveless:  Well, as a former police reporter I have to say that I would certainly agree with you that that I certainly was the basis of – to the extent I had any success in my journalism career, my work as police reporter many years ago helped on that.

 

[00:34:18]

Lisa Friedman:  That’s such a fun beat too.

[00:34:19]

Bill Loveless:  Yeah, it is.

[00:34:21]

Steve Mufson:  Yeah.  My first job was actually covering the oil and gas industry at The Wall Street Journal, but all the other things that I've done along the way have helped, help to cover Africa, there were big energy stories there, the drilling in Angola, the conflict between the oil companies and Regans effort to toss out the _____ [00:34:40] government way back then, covering China four years was actually hugely important because of their position as a huge consumer and industrialization and the anger more recently about the quality of air, and foreign policy and it all come together in a way that I think doesn’t happen on that many beats.

[00:35:05]

Bill Loveless:  Right.  Yeah, it’s important to look broadly and covering certainly any field, but it’s truly the case with energy and the environment.  Well, I afraid that’s all the time we have, but I’d like to thank you Lisa Friedman from the New York Times.

[00:35:18]

Lisa Friedman:  This was so fun, thanks for having us.

[00:35:19]

Bill Loveless:  And Steve Mufson from the Washington Post again with us here.

[00:35:20]

Steve Mufson:  Thank you, Bill.  Good to talk to you.

[00:35:24]

Bill Loveless:  And, as always, we like to thank our listeners for tuning in.  For the Columbia Energy Exchange, I’m Bill Loveless, we will be back again next week with another conversation.