James Adams Staff Picks - July 2021


I selected my artifacts for this month’s media brief from the curated set of articles of the South Eastern Energy News listserve, published by the Energy News Network, and through E&E’s ClimateWire listserve. As my dissertation project focuses on energy transition in Austin, Texas, I was reading articles that assessed the current state of Texas’ energy infrastructure and ongoing strategies and capacities to transition (or resist transitioning) to renewable energy. I also keep an eye on energy developments at the federal level. The articles I selected this time around help me think about “rupture” in more nuanced ways, allowing for the possibility of representations of rupture to mask continuity in the process of reproducing inequities.

            I selected the first article, published by Politico, for its insight into the way the Texas power crisis of February 2021 was being mobilized by fossil-fuel friendly politicians to perpetuate misleading rhetoric about the unreliability of renewable energy and therein thwart energy transition efforts. This article struck me for its relevance to the ERP group’s previous reading and discussion of Barrio’s (2017) review article, in which he questions the revelatory power of disasters like the Texas power crisis. The Politico article supports Barrios’ thesis “that the revelatory nature of disasters is contingent on the sociopolitical vantage point from which the beholder problematizes disaster” (2017, 162). In this sense, while some may hold out hope that the Texas power crisis will dawn a new awakening, this article helps us realize the crisis will be a new domain of rhetorical and ideological struggle.

            In a similar sense, the second article questions the real, lived impact of a superficially progressive climate policy. More precisely, the author critically assesses what the real vs represented impact of Biden’s Justice40 initiative will be, arguing that the lack of specification for how the 40% of funds allocated to frontline communities will be distributed and spent at local levels puts too much faith in state and local governments capacity or willingness to center their region’s historically marginalized communities. I was interested in this article for its resonance with Pulido’s (2017) challenge to the mainstream EJ movement’s faith in the state as a neutral actor. Pulido shows how environmental justice movement's continual failure to produce lived improvements in the lives of vulnerable communities is tied to a misrecognition of the state as an ally, rather than a site of contestation.


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April 15, 2022 - 3:20pm

Critical Commentary

James Adams's Staff picks - July 2021

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Anonymous, "James Adams Staff Picks - July 2021", contributed by James Adams, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 15 April 2022, accessed 21 May 2022. https://energyrights.info/content/james-adams-staff-picks-july-2021