Energy for Growth Hub
Podcast Jan 17, 2024

Episode #18 Tisha Schuller: Bridging Divides on Our Path to Decarbonization

Tisha Schuller, founder & CEO of Adamantine Energy, joins the show for a conversation on her unique perspective as an oil & gas expert working towards decarbonization, how to build trust and common ground in high-conflict situations, and why a soft heart is a superpower.

Tisha Schuller founded Adamantine Energy to help energy companies translate their sustainability and decarbonization aspirations into action. Tisha advises private clients from Fortune 100 energy companies to nonprofit environmental organizations in matters including ESG and decarbonization strategies, managing disruption, energy policy, environmental justice, and stakeholder engagement. She also serves as the strategic advisor for Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative. Previously, Tisha served as president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association and as principal and vice president of Tetra Tech, a national environmental consulting and engineering firm. She has a bachelor of science degree from Stanford University.

Tisha serves on many academic and nonprofit boards, including those of the Breakthrough Institute, the Energy for Growth Hub, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Institute for Science & Policy Strategic Council, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines. She has also been a member of the National Petroleum Council, an advisory board to the U.S. secretary of energy under the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations. She is the author of three books: Accidentally Adamant (2018), The Gamechanger’s Playbook: How Oil & Gas Leaders Thrive in an Era of Continuous Disruption (2020), and Real Decarbonization: How Oil & Gas Companies Are Seizing the Low-Carbon Future (2022). Tisha authors Both of These Things Are True, a weekly email newsletter, and hosts the Energy Thinks podcast.

Show Notes



ROSE MUTISO: I’m Rose Mutiso.

KATIE AUTH: I’m Katie Auth, and this is High Energy Planet, the podcast from the Energy for Growth Hub about new ideas to solve global energy poverty.

ROSE MUTISO: On today’s show, Tisha Schuller — founding CEO of Adamantine Energy, which helps energy companies implement sustainability and decarbonization strategies. She also serves on the Boards of the Energy for Growth Hub and the Breakthrough Institute. Tisha’s current work focuses on helping oil and gas companies figure out how to play a leadership role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

KATIE AUTH: So why did we invite Tisha on the show? Tisha approaches energy poverty and the energy transition in a way that’s very different than anyone we’ve had on the show before, and from most people we know. Her backstroy, which we’ll talk a little bit about today, was really an immense journey and I think that’s going to surprise a lot of people. She started out as an environmental activist and then she pivoted to playing a leading role in the oil and gas industry. So she cares deeply about climate and getting to a low carbon future, but she believes that oil and gas can and has to play a leading role in getting there.

ROSE MUTISO: Tisha has described the energy transition as “long, fraught, complicated and expensive” — and we agree. We do have major questions about the O & G industry’s capacity to lead (which we’ll get to in this conversation). But no matter what, the energy transition will require more engagement across fraught political divides, and there are few people better equipped than Tisha for these kinds of conversations.


ROSE MUTISO: All right, welcome, Tisha.

TISHA SCHULLER: I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for having me.

ROSE MUTISO: So glad to have you. So, let’s go back to the

beginning. Can you tell us something about where you grew up and one thing about it that shaped who you are today?

TISHA SCHULLER: Sure, I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. People think of Tucson one way today, but when I grew up there, I grew up at a high school with a 50 percent graduation rate and I was the only one in my class that went out of state to college, for example. A girl I admired who was four years older than me had at one time told me that she wanted to go to Stanford, but she didn’t get in. So when I was a freshman, I said, “Oh, well then I’ll go to Stanford. I had no idea. I didn’t even know where Stanford was or what it was. And, by many, many miracles, I ended up getting to go to Stanford on a scholarship and it left me with the power of magical thinking. Sometimes I and others, we critique magical thinking, but I actually had this very early formative experience that magical thinking worked. And so there’s almost nothing you can talk me out of, like in the sense of like — no, no, like if we put our minds to it, like the whole hippie manifesting thing, which I’m kind of allergic to, I also completely buy into. And so today, when we talk about these intractable problems, I cannot resist thinking, yeah, but we’ll just overcome them with the power of our —

ROSE MUTISO: I went to Stanford, all things are possible.

TISHA SCHULLER: Right! Like yeah, I went to Stanford, yeah. And people always used to say like, “Oh, I think they made a mistake when they let me in.” I was like, they didn’t make a mistake, like let’s do this! Let’s do this! That’s how I felt.

KATIE AUTH: Does that girl know that she inspired you and your whole future trajectory? Did you ever tell her?

TISHA SCHULLER: No, I have never been able to find her. She was like the older sister of someone, and it’s the funniest thing. I’m sure she’s wildly successful somewhere out in the world, um, but no, that’s a great idea. I should

actually, like, now we have the internet, which we didn’t have then, so I can probably solve this.

ROSE MUTISO: I’m surprised, I’m impressed that you’ve waited all these decades to do some like, internet, and Facebook stalking of this person.

TISHA SCHULLER: Well, you know, it’s a funny thing. I didn’t really think of it, but, but the question, um, the prompt made me really think about like, what’s like the number one formative thing? And that’s, that’s probably


ROSE MUTISO: Well, I have one last thing on this thread is in the nineties, when I was a kid, my dad went to a conference in Tucson, Arizona, and came back with like conference swag, like a bag, and just like me and the neighborhood kids running around, you know, looking at this bag and being like, how do you say that word? Like, what is this word? Like, it’s like the T and, the U and the S.

TISHA SCHULLER: Where is this magical


kidding. That is my earliest memory of your hometown.


KATIE AUTH: Um, so Tisha, we teased it a little bit for the audience in the beginning, but. I want to talk about this kind of crazy journey that you went on. you started off deeply engaged in the environmental community, and then you ended up leading Colorado’s Oil and Gas Association. And, you know, I think most people typically think about those two communities as being diametrically opposed, um, and would find you moving from one to the other, like, pretty shocking. So, what was the spark that motivated that shift for you, and, and what was it like to move from one world to the other?

TISHA SCHULLER: Yeah, it, it was a very long, slow slog that I think all my critics would say is incomplete, whether you’re an environmentalist who critiques me for working with oil and gas or an oil and gas person who critiques me for being too much of a climate hawk. Um, but the, probably the earliest move was I was working as an environmental consultant. I, and I got a project to go travel all around the country and teach environmental. 101 classes to oil and gas field workers. It was a two hour class that I designed and, you know, being a good hippie in Boulder, Colorado, I was like, I’m going to go help these like people understand what we need to do to protect the environment. And I spent two years traveling all over the country, going to very, very rural places, and I quickly learned that first of all, like protecting your local environment is intrinsically. important to every single human. There’s no, like, there is no political divide about that. And, and So, and I also quickly learned to translate my sort of hippie language into like, into the words that resonated depending on where I was. If I was in rural Louisiana, that might be one thing. If I was on the Plains of Kansas, that might be another. But you sort of learn pretty early to chameleon into like, well, how can they hear me? But also how could I? Be respectful and not come in like, I know something you don’t know. I was also 25, 26 years old. So it was also, I wanted to be respectful. So that

KATIE AUTH: and you are probably talking to a lot of men.

TISHA SCHULLER: yes. I mean, probably 99 percent of men. I don’t, I, it’s funny. I don’t remember that because it was so normal, but yeah, I, I would go in with either donuts or fishing lures just to like, not be, or lottery tickets to just not be received like totally hostily, and, um, what I got out of that was just a deep understanding that to make progress on environmentalism, a huge part of it is being deeply respectful and, and finding common ground with. everyone’s intrinsic motivation to protect, uh, the outdoors, to protect their place, where they live. Um, and even, you can pretty quickly find common ground on protecting the planet. like if you can use respectful language that you can find resonance with people. So that was the beginning of the journey. There are, you know, of course, many, many, many pivot points, but that I understood that the best work could be done in this translation space.


KATIE AUTH: translation, but it’s also like code shifting. It’s like,

TISHA SCHULLER: yeah. Yeah. one of the things that is, I mean, one of the things I know now about myself, you know, 30 years into this work is that I can chameleon like nobody’s business, but it’s not an inauthentic chameleon. It’s not a manipulative chameleon. It’s like, I really, if you sit me down, like I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 16 years old, so more than 30 years. And, um, but I have a project with Cattlemen now. And when I sit down with them, I will eat a steak and I will like, because I love them. I love who they are. I love the pride they take in their work. So it is code switching, but it’s like, I don’t know, like I really transport myself into that world. And I mean it. And then it’s actually, actually my, the task on me then is to be consistent because I do mean it, but I need to figure out how to be consistent as I, as I proceed in my work So it doesn’t seem like I’m a flip flopping or, or being manipulative. That’s actually my biggest challenge in this kind of work.

ROSE MUTISO: that’s really interesting. And I think I, I actually, I think this recasting a chameleon role is not a negative thing. It’s really interesting to me and actually coming from my background in Africa, just from a young age, you have to be many things in many contexts. So it’s talking to your uncles from the village, talking to the church women who come for tea with your peers, like, you know what I mean? There’s this natural sense of that you’re. you just have to kind of shift depending on the situation and I think moving to the US and realizing that a lot of people find that inauthentic was quite surprising. So I think I really, I really value this idea that, you know, we, in our relating and with people and this relational role that we have to kind of do this dance.So that’s, that’s super interesting. Okay. So continuing on this thread, you occupylike this really interesting role. Uh, mediating between opposing sectors in the energy sector, and you, you started your company, Adamantine Energy, focused on addressing conflicts between energy developers and stakeholders, from anti fracking activists to skeptical regulators, and this has kind of been a continuing thread in your work.So what is the most important thing you’ve learned about building trust and common cause in high conflict contexts?

TISHA SCHULLER: I think. What I’ve learned that is most impactful to, to me and my, I think that when I can be effective is understanding how important a, uh, an individual’s worldview is. So Rose, you, were talking about how you had to do that, your own chameleoning and there’s a natural thing that you did, which is my uncle comes from this environment and the world looks like this. And therefore to be respectful, I need to engage in this way. So I, I. That’s, that’s how I try to engage. So I, I now very just first sort of first principles. I, if I walk into a room, who’s this audience, what does the world like look like to them? What would be a takeaway that would be impactful? How could they leave here saying I have received something useful to me and then engaging from there. So I think, I think that the worldview one occupies actually determines so much now of what people can hear, how they’re willing to engage. Um, and understanding that has, has allowed me in some instances to have a superpower, right? To make connections where connections seem impossible. Um, but on the other hand, um, it, it. Again, back to the same theme, it can be perceived as inauthentic, like, oh, you’re telling them what they want to hear. So the magic piece of this, the discerning piece of this, is to do so authentically. It’s not that hard to do it authentically if you can find deep respect for the people with which you’re engaging. Even if you disagree with them wildly, you can find respect for their humanity, for their interest in doing the right thing, for the way that they believe they’re on the side of right.

KATIE AUTH: Yeah, this is actually making me see your work in an entirely new way because we’ve talked about these issues before outside of the podcast, but I always thought of it as like, Oh, Tisha’s deeply strategic and she can, you know, change her language and her approach depending on the context. And that’s awesome.

But now what I’m hearing is it’s actually. like a much deeper personal connection that you make. So like before, when you were saying you transport yourself into the position of the people you talk to, it actually sounds like you just have deep, deep empathy for an empathy in the sense, not that you’re sympathetic to them, but that you can actually occupy their position and see the world from their vantage point. Does that, does that

TISHA SCHULLER: that’s absolutely, yeah, that’s true. And there’s a few pieces I’ll just layer onto that that I’ve learned over the years. One is if I’m uncomfortable in a situation, like I have a defensive or reactionary, uh, feeling about someone or situation I’m in. I query that within myself, not my, so my goal isn’t like, Oh, I want to be, Oh, I need to, I don’t like what they have to say. My, my query is if I’m uncomfortable, I’m not listening well enough. I’m not understanding. If I’m taking offense, I am not understanding what they’re trying to say. I’m not understanding what’s motivating them. And so I try to move toward discomfort within myself in, in order to Uh, understand, and, and I, and my mantra, right, of course, is seek first to understand. So I don’t go in trying to change minds. I don’t go in trying to get A, B, and C across. It’s like, if I need to understand, and if I do understand, then I can engage. If I don’t understand. Then I try to spend all my time in inquiry, listening, learning, be a student of this person and the more uncomfortable I am or the more they push my buttons, the more I put the burden on myself to grow. I need to grow here because if they’re pushing my buttons, I haven’t done my work. So I’m going to do my work and I’m going to grow. I’m going to try to get to a place where whatever they say, I can meet it for what it is. They’re best. They’re offering me their best.

KATIE AUTH: Does that get tiring? It sounds exhausting in some ways.

TISHA SCHULLER: for me, it’s energizing. You know, everyone has different things that suck their energy, like, like, glad handing, like networking. I can’t stand that stuff. Like, put me in, like, a fraught room where we need to solve something, like, that’s existential. Like, I’m like, oh, yeah, I get energized by that. Put me in, like, a group that we need to come to a decision that seems impossible. I am energized by that. Um, so that, I think that’s very With my team, you know, we have a dozen people on the Adam and Teens staff. I try to be really mindful that this is not what everyone was born to do. This is not, so we try to create some sort of like frameworks and strategy. We’re not therapists. We’re not facilitators. Um, so we try to put in some frameworks of like, this is how we engage and make it a little more clinical. But personally, it’s very emotional. It’s very spiritual. Um, and it’s, it’s very tied to what gives me purpose.

ROSE MUTISO: This is so cool and actually just one more thing on this thread because actually you know what this, and Katie I love that you brought I’m going to jump into the kind of empathy into this conversation because I think a few years ago, I think we kind of reached peak empathy. This is when like, have a business review is like, are you a manager? Be empathetic. Like, this is how are you in a business? And everyone, our parents were like obsessed with how do I teach my kid empathy? And I found that. An interesting conversation because it’s great that people are thinking about empathy as a thing that’s critical to life and business. But, you know, it’s, it’s kind of something that comes from experience, from living in different worlds. And actually, you know, I think there’s research that talks about, like, actually reading a lot of fiction is a really great way for kids to have empathy. And I just wonder because, like, your, your whole professional career has been. inhabiting different worlds and perspectives. So do you feel like that muscle is getting stronger, this daily practice and empathy that isn’t just like the HBR listicle, like I want to be


ROSE MUTISO: effective and so I’m going to find the shortcut to be a more empathetic person?

TISHA SCHULLER: Yeah, I think, you’re right. That what I’m practicing is empathy, but that’s not the words I use for myself. My words is respect. Um, and maybe that’s like a dated, maybe that’s like a generational term. But, but when I say respect, what I mean is I see you, whoever, whomever you are. As an individual who believes you are doing right in the  world and is doing the best you can. And, and actually one of our go-tos when we’re frustrated with our team, Adam and team, is everyone’s doing the best they can given what they know. Like, if you just start there all the time, every single person is doing that. Um, And so, so if they’re, they’re an individual human, they believe they’re on the side of the right, they’re doing the best they can given what they know, My job is to, is to see them. So maybe that’s empathy. but for me, it’s respect because, I think our our intractable polarization, our intractable teams that we get on comes out of this sort of dehumanizing and so much can be solved just by humanizing. And for me, that, the pathway. to humanizing someone, particularly if I don’t want to, that’s why I put the burden on me, um, if I don’t want, the more I don’t want to, the more the work needs to be done, um, is respect, to show respect.

ROSE MUTISO: Okay, this is, um, uh, I want to move on to the next question, but part of me is also, I hope we can weave in the R E S P E C T song to give a soundtrack to this. I love that. Respect. It’ll be the anthem of this episode. But anyway, speaking of intractable problems, uh, quote unquote, intractable problems. um, so your recent work has focused more on working with O&G companies to set and implement real decarbonization strategies. So. What does real decolonization mean to you? Mm

TISHA SCHULLER: means two things fundamentally. One, It means decarbonization, uh, activities that are credible, that are moving the needle, that are so, so that in different contexts that can mean different things, but scalable, um, invest, like actual investments, you know, not, not just pledges. So real decarbonization is things happening that are accelerating progress. That’s the first definition. The second definition though is pragmatic. Uh, real decarbonization is not just talking about solutions that are fashionable. Um, but talking about solutions that are scalable and doable given the constraints of politics or economics or physics. Um, and the reason I put an emphasis on Real in these two elements is because I think when we can create conversations that are based in respect and seeking common ground, those two things are the thing. Those two ingredients are the ingredients that are often missing at the table. Um, you know, if there’s like you know, good guy, bad guy, do this, don’t do this. Um, if you, if you, get around, okay, but let’s, like, can we agree what real means? And can we agree that progresses are shared imperative? Then it makes more room for solutions. Um, and whether that’s, you know, in the U. S. or in a developing economy, I find that the conversation can be a bridge if introduced respectfully, you know, after trust is established.

KATIE AUTH: One big question that I had as I was reading about your work in real decarbonization and the various companies that you’re working with, um, is just trying to play out and understand how you envision this pathway, like 50, 75 years from now, because right now there are companies that are. you know, working to reduce their emissions intensity or they’re, you know, diversifying their business by investing in renewables alongside oil and gas. But like, what do you envision those companies being in a hundred years? Are they doing a totally new business? Are they using carbon capture to cancel out their emissions? Like what is, what is your ideal future for them?

TISHA SCHULLER: This is something we spend a lot of time talking about in the industry, because several of my clients. are companies that existed a hundred years ago. And so there’s this visceral thinking of the company. What, what happened in the last hundred years and what will happen? What do we have to do to be the energy delivery system of the next hundred years? And essentially the, the core component of that. is innovation and flexibility and responsiveness to disruption. So, um, the answer isn’t, uh, decarbonization centric because any, uh, any company that has existed for a hundred years that wants to exist in a hundred years has to first and foremost be thinking about how flexible they are to disruption. The way energy consumers want their energy. the expectations of policymakers, shareholders, um, employees. Now, decarbonization is one of several demands that these companies are facing today. Um, and so it’s, it’s central, but when I imagine the energy system of the future, I’m imagining one that is nearly emissions free, that is almost, um, unrecognizable in terms of delivery systems. Like just that, like we can’t even imagine today what our little tele electric power, nuclear powered teleporting machine is gonna be or whatever. Um, and so the companies that meet that reliability, affordability and flexibility are gonna be those that are the most nimble. And so the, to me, at the heart of the next a hundred years question, isn’t climate the heart at the next a hundred years question is like responsiveness of which decarbonization is one, but maybe not even the hardest. Like if you really think about nuclear, just transforming energy delivery systems, oil and gas becomes like very quickly on a hundred year timescale irrelevant. So that’s the kind of thing like, well, I love to think a hundred years, but that’s not where I spend most of my time.

KATIE AUTH: Yeah. Well, I was just going to say, it’s really interesting because On the one hand, like you’re very focused on pragmatism, which to me means like, okay, what can be done today in the real world? But then to hear you talk about like, you know, a blue sky future, you are, you’re also thinking about this totally different universe that we can’t know what it looks like. And that’s just a very interesting, um.

TISHA SCHULLER: Well, yeah, one of the reasons that I can do that is because I strive to speak the language of my audience. And so in a very forward thinking energy executives are thinking like that. So introducing decarbonization as like one of the myriad persons. disruptive demands of a, of a hundred year away future is like very non threatening, right? It’s not politicized. It doesn’t make you evil. It’s not, you’re not the problem. You’re not allowed to be at the table. It’s like, who’s going to win the race to the next a hundred years. That is just a unifying mindset. That just like, if we all spend our time in that space, we would be expending so much less energy on the fights of today and on the innovation of tomorrow. That’s where I would love to be. That’s not the reality of our political system. Um, but I find it a very, um, it’s just a very unifying, um, opportunity to, to, think in those terms. And, and for those who are open to it, understanding the prosperity that the oil and gas industry of the last hundred years allowed to the present. Um, you know, of course we talk a lot about the burdens of the, of carbon in the atmosphere, but just understanding the transfer, the transformation that has been made possible by all this, the historic legacy energy systems creates also that foundation of respect that allows you to have different kinds of conversations.

ROSE MUTISO: So this is so interesting because, um, you know, uh, and I, I do really appreciate the way that you’re trying to connect now, which is why I think that, you know, we really are, are agree that it’s complex, and this is a system we have now, let’s be pragmatic. I think where things start to fall apart and where the, the rifts show between the communities is building that long term future. And so I think this is. a really constructive way to try and tie them together. My follow up question is a bit about, cause you work with this companies day in, day out, and I get that at a high level, they want survive and be relevant into the future. But what, what is like one or two things that a company can, do be ready to be nimble. And it’s one thing to say, like, be nimble, be responsive. Like what are, like when you’re working with them, what are like concrete things? And, you know, when I think about, for example, company, like, you know, I think about say pharma, pharma, pharma companies have these model where you can be big, massive companies, but you just have this acquisition model where you’re just swooping up all of the Harvard and Oxford and um, Stanford, and I’m trying to name one, UT, I’m trying to be fair with all the schools I’m naming. Researchers. You’re scooping up, you have this model where you can absorb innovation and that’s kind of how that industry is set up. It’s like, what is, what is, What is the strategy for orangey companies that are set up so differently to be nimble? like what is like a concrete thing.

TISHA SCHULLER: Yeah. Yeah. My, my, my third book, the last book I wrote was exactly a play book for this, well the second one was called the playbook, but the third one was actually provided in the playbook.

ROSE MUTISO: More playbook.

TISHA SCHULLER: Examples of oil and gas adjacent solution include things like geothermal using historic oil and gas wells to provide electricity. or moving low and no carbon liquids and gases that could be hydrogen, renewable natural gas, things like, that. So companies are making literally billions of dollars of investment in the US on these oil and gas adjacent solutions. It’s a way to, to provide proof points. but also to stay like to stay in their lane in a way that’s, I think, credible and also can be successful because if we want to accelerate solutions, then companies ultimately will have to be responsive to their shareholders, to their employees, to their fiscal responsibilities, while at the same time decarbonizing. And so those are just a few examples of how companies do this work.

ROSE MUTISO: Well, thanks. Um, uh, uh, super, super helpful and we, we look forward to the future playbooks that help us kind of drill, because it is a little bit of a moving target as like circumstances change. we need to keep, as you said, being nimble and changing tactics. Cool. So, um, your work has largely focused on energy issues in Colorado and the United States. Um, and so why did you join the Board of the Hub, which focuses on energy issues in emerging and frontier economies?

TISHA SCHULLER: Well, earlier, you asked me about my journey from environmental activist to oil and gas. So when I was at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, I went into that, uh, I started there in 2009 and I was, um, unapologetically an environmentalist who thought they could make the oil and gas industry better. And then I quickly found myself, um, with the responsibility of representing 40, 000 families in the industry, which because of this deep respect piece, I really took seriously. Um, but it became quickly clear. that being an environmentalist who worked in oil and gas was just not flying out in the world. So I decided to do a deep, a deep dive into can we get off oil and gas today? and if we can get off of oil and gas today, I’m going to quit this job and go work for somebody else and fight against oil and gas industry. Cause I, I’m sort of mentally nimble like that. I’m willing, I’m willing to do that. So I spent a couple months, um, really looking into can we get off oil and gas today? And that the issue that rose to the top, that as it does, um, for all of us who work in this space, is that it’s the developing economies that are going to need oil and gas, uh, in order to reach a middle class lifestyle. Now in 2009, that was like kind of an unpopular, unexplored concept. So I sought to build a network. It’s how I ended up connecting to the Breakthrough Institute where I sit on the board. It’s I started following the work of Todd Moss, who was like this weird guy who put out these tweets that you know, had refrigerators in them. And then and it was all part of my journey to hold myself accountable. to making sure that if I’m going to work in oil and gas, I need to be accountable to making sure we’re getting, we’re, we’re doing that piece of it. Um, so that’s, so that was my interest. And then it developed into a real passion. I’ve had the opportunity to travel all around the world to get to consult on projects or on this topic. Um, and so it’s deeply important to me when we’re done solving domestic polarization around climate in the U S then I’m going to go work on that.

KATIE AUTH: Yeah. Easy peasy, right? We’re, we’re almost

TISHA SCHULLER: couple of years.

KATIE AUTH: I mean, so one thing I struggle with, Tisha, like, you know, from talking to us in other contexts, Rose and I have gone through our own, You know, emotional considerations of how we think about oil and gas and climate and energy poverty and these issues that are often really, really challenging to kind of work through. Um, what’s right? What’s what’s moral? What? What makes sense? And, you know, we’ve we have our own skepticisms about the oil and gas industry’s capacity to lead in this way that that you envision. And we know that that sort of skepticism is not unfamiliar to you, and in fact, it’s deeply familiar. Um, I think you’ve written broadly about addressing that skepticism and kind of navigating it. Why do you believe it’s so important to keep doing this work, even though so many people on both sides kind of dismiss the voices of the other? And like, are you seeing any demonstrable progress in closing those gaps?

TISHA SCHULLER: Yeah, I wrote my first book accidentally adamant. I’m obnoxiously like picking my own books, but I wrote it because my sister in law, who is also my best friend, kept saying, why is fracking okay? Like, I love you, but what? And I, and I, I wanted to go on the journey for myself, but also for others of can we live without this stuff? And if we can’t live without this stuff, then let’s move on. Like we can live without tobacco. Let’s move on. Um, and so that was my, um, my journey there. And the reason I keep going is because in my work, my, the conclusion I have come to, which I think everyone has to come to for themselves, um, because I did write a book about it and while it convinced, you know, a hundred people, it did not convince a hundred million people. Um, we all have to go on this journey of. Can, can it be done without A, B or C? Can it be done without coal? Can it be done without oil? Can it be done without natural gas? Um, Can it be done without companies? Can it be done without whatever? Um, and my conclusion is, if you actually prioritize decarbonizing the energy system, um, And, or, either one, you prioritize raising billions of people out of, um, poverty around the world, either one of those, but certainly with both of them, um, it cannot be done without, uh, mobilizing the forces of the oil and gas industry. Um, and that is my personal conclusion, and therefore, I want to get to work, and I want to help everybody, uh, on both sides of this debate. My life work happens to be Uh, bringing the industry to the table in meaningful, incredible ways. That’s my calling of the moment. Um, there, I could see a parallel universe where I was doing that on the other side. Like we need to make room for the oil and gas industry, but someone else has to do that. And then I get to like, make sure we’re ready to show up when invited. Um, so that’s why I, and like, to me, it’s like a no brainer. It’s what I was born to do. I wake up with a ton of energy for it. Every time someone tells me no, I just think, well. You’re wrong. So let’s go.

ROSE MUTISO: All right. And I think, I think this, uh, I’m really glad we’ve had this conversation because I think it’s, it’s one that we need to keep having. Cause we’re, you know, I think I’m hearing you and I kind of get it, but I’m still skeptical. But I think part of the disconnect again, is this, like, I get it where we are now. This is power is 80 percent of our economy. O & G makes our lives happen. And I, get that. And to be part, we have to start with this. These are the facts. And so it’s just. continuing to iterate with you and with everyone about how we get from point A, which is where we are, and to be honest and sober about this is where we are, and then build out the journey to point B, which is zero emissions. And it’s, it’s, it’s, obviously something that all parties need to talk about and kind of build the car as we’re moving. And I think that that is the thing that’s difficult. That is the thing to kind of figure out is how, how it’s it’s hard enough to build the baseline and be like, this is the reality. this is the pragmatic, let’s face that. And I think that’s really, I think that’s one thing that we really valued having you kind of do that. Like, let’s be sober minded. and I think that the journey that Katie and I are on and that a lot of people who are skeptical are on is, okay, we get this is where we are, we get it’s going to be difficult, like, how do we map that out? And it just, it seems that you map it out as you go and you keep building in these chunks as a starting point.

TISHA SCHULLER: Yeah. One thing that, that helps when it’s possible to introduce, and this is a mini step process also, is if we recognize that by vilifying either, by vilifying energy sources, by vilifying energy industries, Um, we’re just removing our options are like, we’re so it’s wasted energy. And there’s a lot of people who very credibly argue about how industry deserves A, B, and C. I’m just so relentlessly future focused that it’s sort of like, well, yeah, go to therapy, work it out and like, let’s get to work. I feel, uh, I feel like we’re expending time we don’t have arguing about things that are not particularly pertinent to the task at hand?

ROSE MUTISO: All right, well, uh, we promised our audience when we started off that this, is going to be going to get people thinking in like really interesting directions and you always, you always deliver. So, um, this has been super, super interesting and we. I think we just need to, I, think this, this point of how can we talk to each other is so important. So thank you for like, um, that role you play. I know it cannot be easy. So, um, all right, we’re now closing the interview after covering many topics from, um, uh, Aretha Franklin’s respect to how do we build this impossible future? Um, but just to kind of. Close on a reflective mode. So looking back, what’s the one thing that has changed the most about you since you started this work?

TISHA SCHULLER: This is such a great question. Um, I I have more courage than I used to. Even things I’ve said to you here today That I know members of this audience will just not like at all. Um, I have more courage because, um, even though my position is less popular than it’s ever been in the 20 years I’ve been working in this inner, inner, space, um, I believe It’s more important than ever before. So in some ways, I, if I, I can provide cover for others to live in this middle ground by being a little. bit out there. Um, I believe the stakes of the status quo polarization, the stakes of the two sides are just too high. And so, um, I am braver than I used to be. And, uh, even though like I wish I could say, Oh, I don’t care if people critique me. Like I actually have like the soft heart of like a little bunny rabbit. But, and everything hurts me and I cry a lot and like, I have, I just am brave now because I have some finite amount of time left and I want us to make progress.

KATIE AUTH: Love that, Rose and I were already talking today about how we should just own the fact that we cry a lot and it means that we care a lot about the world and we care about issues and we shouldn’t, um, see it as a weakness. So I appreciate

TISHA SCHULLER: You can’t be brave if you’re not scared. You can’t be courageous if you’re not easily hurt. So those things actually go hand in hand.

ROSE MUTISO: Okay. Tisha. So now it’s time to play short circuit, which is a our fun punny name for a rapid fire round of questions. um, really quick, don’t overthink it. Let’s just run through it Boom, boom, boom. It’s a lot of fun. so are you ready.


ROSE MUTISO: Okay, cool. So what’s one thing that people often get wrong about you?

TISHA SCHULLER: That I’m mean.

KATIE AUTH: What? Who would think that?

ROSE MUTISO: what? Wait,

TISHA SCHULLER: hear I’m scary

ROSE MUTISO: we don’t This is

TISHA SCHULLER: mean, I guess I kinda am scary, so maybe I don’t get it wrong. But you told me not to overthink it.

ROSE MUTISO: Also, what? Okay. This is rapid fire. We don’t have time to drill into this, but audience, I

KATIE AUTH: We’ll revisit.

ROSE MUTISO: this information from.

KATIE AUTH: I’m going to give you, you have to complete the sentence. the energy sector needs more blank.


KATIE AUTH: Hmm. I get most nervous when,

TISHA SCHULLER: That I have to go to the bathroom on the airplane. I’m afraid of delays. Oh, everything! But

KATIE AUTH: What do you want to learn more about.

TISHA SCHULLER: probably quantum physics.

KATIE AUTH: That’s not ambitious at all.

ROSE MUTISO: No. Oh, goodness. I think we need to have like a separate podcast episode where we just bring back all the guests and like drill into their short circuit answers. Just leave a lot of questions unanswered. Okay. All right. So if you weren’t an energy wonk, what would you be? I feel


KATIE AUTH: A Boulder, Colorado barista.

TISHA SCHULLER: Yeah, because like you go to yoga and then you read philosophy and I kind of want to do all that.

ROSE MUTISO: I feel like that market is probably saturated, but

TISHA SCHULLER: but you told me not to

ROSE MUTISO: career advice for you.


KATIE AUTH: Okay, last one. What’s one podcast or book or song that you can’t stop thinking about?

TISHA SCHULLER: Oh, well, it’s none of those, but I’m watching Succession. I’m self-medicating with red wine and

KATIE AUTH: Oh, it’s so good.

TISHA SCHULLER: You know what? I just want you to know, compared to Succession, I’m a really good person and I have no problems.

ROSE MUTISO: But how good is your fashion? That’s what I want to know.


ROSE MUTISO: Okay. So that’s a wrap for today. Tisha, thank you so much for being on the show. As always, you know, it just really It gets us thinking every time we talk to you, it gets us thinking, feeling, wrestling, and I think that this is what conversation should be about and it’s one big goal for our podcast this season.

ROSE MUTISO: All right, so that’s it for today’s show. High Energy Planet is a production of the energy for growth hub, matching policymakers with evidence-based pathways to a high energy future. For everyone, find out and share your questions and thoughts with us at Energy for Growth on X and LinkedIn.

KATIE AUTH: If you like today’s episode, be sure to rate and review the podcast and tell a friend about us. Audrey Zenner is our executive producer. Join us next time for more high energy planet.