This magazine has long taken pride in its coverage of everything Texan, from barbecue to bare-knuckle politics. We’re always looking to recruit writers with authority in areas of special relevance to the Lone Star State, including in recent years José Ralat on tacos and Wes Ferguson on hunting and fishing (among other topics). I’m pleased to introduce you to our latest expert hire, Russell Gold, who left the Wall Street Journal in July to join Texas Monthly as a senior editor focused mainly on energy—an industry that is essential to the state’s economy and the livelihood of millions of its residents.
Russell is one of the nation’s finest writers about energy from all sources, including oil and gas, wind, solar, and geothermal. For TM, he’ll also cover environmental and electric-grid issues, broader business stories, and various other subjects that catch his eye. In the October 2021 issue, he examines a few young companies that are creating clean energy by using technology, equipment, and expertise developed while fracking for oil and gas. “This could be Texas’s next great economic opportunity,” Russell says, “if it can figure out how to apply its engineering and energy knowledge in new ways.”
A Pennsylvania native and Columbia University alum, Russell moved to Texas in 1996 to write for the San Antonio Express-News. He has lived in the Alamo City, Dallas, and Austin, and he frequently travels to Houston and across the state to visit oil fields and wind and solar farms. His reporting has taken him to five continents—and even above the Arctic Circle, twice. Russell joined the WSJ in 2000, and in 2010 he was a key member of the team that covered the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Their work was recognized with the Gerald Loeb Award for best business story of the year and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.
In 2014 Russell published his first book, The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World. His second book, Superpower: One Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy, about Houston wind-energy pioneer Michael Skelly, came out in 2019. That year, Russell was again a Pulitzer finalist, this time for his coverage of the deadly wildfires caused by the California utility PG&E. More recently, he reported more than a dozen stories about the failure of the Texas electrical grid during this February’s winter storm. “Texas sends its crude oil, gasoline, and natural gas to many other states and countries,” Russell says. “I’ve long wondered why it doesn’t do the same with electricity, connecting its grid with the rest of the country and selling power from its wind and solar farms. Seems like a missed opportunity.”
Russell lives in Austin with his wife, Laura Hernandez Gold, a San Antonio native, along with their two sons and two mutts. Among his many strong opinions: Bottle Rocket is an underappreciated Texas movie, and at least one public school in Fort Worth should be named after jazz legend Ornette Coleman. I hope you enjoy Russell’s work and the rest of this issue of Texas Monthly. Please write and let us know what you think.