Houston Matters

How greed and lax regulation may have helped spur the February 2021 power failures

Houston Chronicle columnist Chris Tomlinson discusses the role pipeline operators and traders may have played during the freezing weather and walks us through lawsuits filed in the 2.5 years since, all of which is outlined in his four-part series for the paper.


Power Lines
David J. Phillip/AP
Power lines near Houston on Feb. 16, 2021.


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Over the last week, Houston Chronicle columnist Chris Tomlinson has presented a four-part series about allegations that natural gas pipeline operators and traders triggered the massive power failures during the February 2021 freeze as they tried to manipulate prices.

In the audio above, Houston Matters host Craig Cohen talks with Tomlinson about that week, what we understood then about what was happening that led to those not-so-rolling blackouts, and what reasons were initially floated for why the grid was short on juice (and what motivated those false claims).

Then, Tomlinson reviews the many lawsuits that have been filed in the 2.5 years since, including one based on data that suggests dozens of Texas businesses acting independently withheld natural gas in order to raise prices and create an artificial fuel shortage.

Tomlinson and Cohen also discuss why it’s possible for some companies to be able to do that in Texas when it’s not possible in other states.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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