Episode #31: Can Texas Go (Clean Energy) Independent? (transcript)
Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.
Brian: And my name is Brian Colbert Kennedy.
Quinn: And this is Episode 31. Fun stuff going on here, Brian. Topic of the day: Can Texas go clean energy independent? Candidate Joseph Kopser of Texas, Texas District 21 sure thinks so.
Brian: Boom. Texas 21. I like how he calls it that. Sounds cool like a gang, like a cool name.
Quinn: So, why is this special? It's about Texas. They're special, right? But also, this is our first in the series of ... It's what, August now?
Brian: It is.
Quinn: A series of conversations over the next few months with candidates for office running on November 6th. Many of them are supported by 314.org; 314 because of Pi, and also because we're on the cusp of either something really good or something really bad. So, November 6th might just be the Great Filter. If you don't know what the Great Filter is, Google it. And they're committed to ...
Brian: Give me one second, I'm going to Google it.
Quinn: Yep. I'll wait. Go ahead. Anyways, they're committed to electing more STEM candidates to office. Thanks to 314 for their help getting all these conversations organized. I think it's pretty exciting.
Brian: Yeah, very exciting. It's one thing to have marched this year or talked about having no scientists in office, but it is another thing to hear from them directly without all the bullshit on specific existential-ish topics.
Quinn: Right. We always say like, oh, we got to get these many House seats, or we don't have these governors or state legislatures or whatever. The point is, is there's a total lack of scientists, kind of like how in the tech companies there's a total lack of liberal arts majors. We need more balance. We need some scientists like Joseph, who is a 20 year combat vet and entrepreneur and tech vet and clean energy vet who has sold companies and knows jobs and energy in Texas. And beer, apparently, very specifically. And to know, oh, these are the people we have to put in office. Literally this specific person. He is in a district that's been red for 40 years or close to that. Whatever it is, it's fucking ridiculous. And putting anybody in there; a raccoon would be great, but fucking putting someone like Joseph in or him specifically is also ...
Brian: They have those scary eyes.
Quinn: That is the mission. Who, raccoons?
Brian: Raccoons, yeah.
Quinn: Well, it's like they have a mask on.
Brian: It's like they're really wearing a mask. It's insanely exciting. I don't know, it just gets me energized when we talk to somebody who is doing the thing that they're talking about doing. Their whole thing is to actually do what they're saying. It's weirdly, like-
Brian & Quinn: Rare.
Brian: And it really makes an impact.
Quinn: It's like when I'm like, "Brian, read these books." And you're like, "Yeah." And then, you don't.
Brian: That's not true.
Quinn: Have you listened to Greatest Showman yet?
Quinn: Gosh. You're fucking killing me.
Brian: That was five episodes ago.
Quinn: By the way, did you figure out what the Great Filter is yet?
Brian: The Great Filter, in the context of the Fermi Paradox, is whatever prevents dead matter from undergoing ...
Brian: ... abiogenesis ...
Brian: ... in time.
Quinn: Nope. Nope.
Brian: All right. You tell me.
Quinn: It's the other one, it's the other one. Is the theoretical ... The question, the Fermi Paradox question is are we actually alone out there? Right? And the question scientist Fermi posted, one day sitting at lunch with his colleagues he was like, "Okay, guys, so cool, the universe is really big." This is years ago. And he's like, "We're finding more and more planets and stars. This is crazy. Where is everybody?" And it's a great question because if people had interstellar travel, wouldn't they have come here already? Right?
Quinn: In some way. And so, the question is not great. And so, one of the principles, the theory principles, is maybe if they haven't come, maybe they can't. Maybe they can't because interstellar travel is either impossible, which is what most theoretical physicists think at this point. You can't go faster than the speed of light, so everything is too fucking far away. Or two, that each civilization, if there are other ones including ours, hit some sort of filter that snuffs them out.
Brian: Got it.
Quinn: Whether that's figuring out nuclear capabilities. We just can't handle the power basically.
Brian: Every civilization destroys itself before developing [crosstalk 00:04:48].
Quinn: So, that's why they haven't gotten there and that we're barrelling towards it. So then the next question is, is there a Great Filter? And let's assume there is. Are we past it or are we heading towards it? And if we're heading towards it, can we get through it?
Quinn: So, there's questions like possible Great Filters when humanity almost got extinguished in the previous ice ages. We were down to thousands of people. Or yeah, Cold War. Or specific pandemics. Or November 6th, which is the most important day of any of our lives. Registered to vote and then vote, because guess what? In a lot of these states, these terrible fucking people are trying to take away your vote. And even if it's safe today, might not be tomorrow. Go to vote.gov, register to vote, and then, bring your most popular friend and go vote.
Quinn: November 6th might be our Great Filter. Here's a question as we're working on this stuff behind the scenes. Do you think we can get Zantac as a sponsor before then?
Brian: You know what? I think there's hope.
Quinn: I would think so, right? I mean, it's pretty fucking specific.
Brian: If you work for Zantac, call us.
Quinn: Yeah. Just give us a shout. We'll do a discount. Look, from what I understand stress cannot cause heartburn, but it can definitely exasperate it. Let me tell you something, Brian. It's fucking started.
Brian: It has begun.
Quinn: You know what doesn't give me heartburn? I mean it does in some way because I have to travel across the country with four toddlers.
Brian: Coming home? Coming back?
Quinn: Coming back to you, buddy. Are you excited?
Brian: I've been waiting months for this.
Quinn: Are you excited?
Quinn: You're really fucking selling it. What have you missed the most about me? Go.
Brian: There's nothing I have to sell because it's just the truth.
Quinn: Now you're avoiding the question. What have you missed the most about me specifically? Go.
Brian: Specifically, huh? I miss the time that we spent together.
Quinn: Oh boy. This feels like a breakup conversation if I've ever heard one.
Brian: No. I miss being in the office with you, listening to music with you. I miss you judging me, judging my haircut, judging what my beard looks like.
Quinn: I still judge you.
Brian: Judging my music choices. I miss eating ice cream with you. I miss when we go to get coffee and you fucking speed walk.
Quinn: With hot coffee across 110 degree sidewalk.
Brian: Yeah. I'm pumped for you to be back. It's finally here. It's taken forever.
Quinn: Yeah. So did you see Salton I-40 dude's Salt-N-Straw's monthly flavors is vegetable based?
Quinn: Some of this shit looks crazy.
Brian: I'm super down for beet red velvet.
Quinn: For sure. Right?
Brian: Absolutely. Also, peanut butter pickle.
Quinn: The problem with beets though, beets first of all are they're amazing for you-
Brian: Beets [crosstalk 00:07:46]
Quinn: You know what happens when you eat beets right? The next morning you wake up-
Brian: Yeah, what?
Quinn: You look in the toilet and you go, "Oh, I'm dying." And then you go, "Oh no, sweet Jesus, I just ate beets." Every time.
Brian: Hey, maybe they use golden beets.
Quinn: I don't think so because it's fucking red velvet ice cream.
Brian: It's red velvet, yeah, no, that's true.
Quinn: Hey, question, total change of topic. Have you heard about the Arch Mission?
Quinn: This is getting a little sci-fi for us, but it's a real thing, so ... The Arch Mission Foundation, "Our mission is to preserve and disseminate humanity's most important information across time and space for the benefit of future generations."
Brian: Oh, okay. Wow.
Quinn: They're building archives of information and shooting them into space.
Brian: How are they readable?
Quinn: Lines include, "They will last billions of years longer than the pyramids; maybe the only remaining trace of our species and civilization." Again, just continuing on the November 6th-Zantac thing. I hope they're going to get them off by November 5th.
Brian: Yeah, the Great Filter.
Quinn: I foresee some sort of future where Asgardia uses its future massive military capabilities, and they're stealing these archives out of space and off the surfaces of planets and asteroids to snuff out human civilization.
Brian: Oh my God.
Quinn: Your thoughts if they asked you to do that?
Brian: Well, I would have to have a long meeting with them and be fully aware of what I was getting back in return, you know? What do I get?
Quinn: What would you need to get back in return, in exchange for snuffing out the history of humanity?
Brian: I don't know, a lot of stuff. A lot of really neat stuff.
Quinn: You're the worst human in a lot of ways.
Brian: Come on, I'm not going to Asgardia.
Quinn: The people like this, they like this. You're there, you don't have a very specific set of skills, let's be honest. It's unclear to me how you make the cut besides being a swell guy. My point is when I-
Brian: Are you just, you're just saying this right now to me?
Quinn: No, I'm just saying you're not a pilot, you're not a physicist, you're not an astro-biologist-
Brian: I'm a fun guy.
Quinn: You're a great guy to have around, and those people are important or else morale is going through the tank out the airlock. My question is what role do you think they would ask you to specifically play in destroying the history of humanity? Are you just the guy who literally puts them in the fucking garbage chute and presses the compactor button?
Brian: No, I think I could have a better role than that.
Quinn: To be clear, I don't know what mine would be. What are my skills? I don't know, I'm so tired.
Brian: Here's what I am: I'm an adventurer, I'm courageous. If they need me to do something risky, I'm all about taking risks. So if they need me to do something risky, take a chance?
Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brian: They may be able to convince me to do that.
Quinn: You really sold the shit ... I'm an adventurer, they may be able depending on what I'm getting out of it.
Brian: I'm not a maniac.
Quinn: This sounds like the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the army is trying to sell him on going to get the shit, and he's like, "Yeah, I'm already out the door." What if he had been like, "Here's the deal. You might be, if it's gentle enough and there are forms signed, I will maybe go."
Brian: I'm not trying to get hurt, okay? I just want to do the thing where the risk is high, but I come back unharmed.
Quinn: Riskiest thing you've ever done.
Brian: What? There's so many answers.
Quinn: No, there should be one and it's the riskiest. What is the number one?
Brian: All right.
Quinn: Really selling yourself as an adventurer here. Joseph would have had an answer immediately.
Brian: One time ... Yeah, but Joseph has the fastest tongue in the West, or the South, whatever. I'm thinking a lot on this.
Quinn: What is it?
Brian: One time I ran, sprinted full speed down a hallway and threw my body at a window, six floors up. But, luckily I bounced back off of it, and just landed back on the floor. But man, if I would have gone through that thing, dead man.
Quinn: Why the fuck did you do that?
Brian: Pretty risky. It was college.
Quinn: Jesus. All right, well, let's go talk to the other guy who is trying to influence humanity in a positive way.
Brian: Yeah, that's going to be a better conversation.
Quinn: Okay, here we go.
Brian: Here we go.
Quinn: Our guest today is Joseph Kopser, and together we're going to ask a question that's probably been on every Texan's mind since about 1845, can Texas finally go independent? Of course we mean clean energy independent, not to get too carried away. And yet, what an awesome thing that would be, and a model for everywhere else. Joseph, welcome.
Joseph Kopser: Thanks for having me on your podcast.
Brian: Very happy to have you Joseph. Let's get started. Just tell us who you are and what you do.
Joseph Kopser: Currently who I am and what I do, I'm running for Congress to replace Lamar Smith who is the Chair of the House and Science Technology Committee. The district that we represent here, that he represents, in title I should say, is Texas 21. That's San Antonio, Austin, and the hill country. He's been in the position for 32 years and I'm currently trying to replace him.
Joseph Kopser: My backstory was after West Point, I was an aerospace engineer but decided to go into the ground combat side of the Army. I was in the cavalry for 20 years. Along the way though, I actually became a clean energy warrior, back in 2004 on my first trip to Iraq when I saw how messed up our national security strategy was; how it was overly dependent, and on our lack of energy security, being the fact that we're, as a planet, we're so addicted to Mideast oil and oil from countries like Russia, that don't really like us. I've been working very hard for a decade and a half to try to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of fuel that come from countries that don't like us, number one. And then overall, move towards a more renewable energy economy.
Joseph Kopser: After 20 years in the Army, I got out and got into business accidentally as an entrepreneur, creating a mobile app called RideScout that allows the user to connect together with all the modes of transportation in a city that actually had a clean energy angle, that I was quite proud of, in order to get people to find ways to and from work or school using the automobile by themselves as a less of a, I would say using that less as their first choice. To first instead look for other way to get there. For that, we actually won the 2013 White House Champion of Change Award. I was thrilled to go and receive that award. Then in 2014, our app won the 2014 Data Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Transportation, so that was a pretty cool time.
Joseph Kopser: I didn't go into business to seek out the profits or the credit for it, if you will. But what happened along the way was people recognized what we were building and it worked for them. And then, of course, after my company was acquired by Mercedes in 2014, they were going towards mobility as a service in new and innovative ways. 2016 happened, our politics collapsed and I said, "Well, shoot, I guess it's time for me to return to public service because I'm not going to sit on the sidelines when I think I can help." So that's me, that's how I got to now.
Quinn: Man, I love that attitude, that's awesome.
Brian: That's amazing.
Quinn: It is funny and kind of ridiculous sometimes the places we find ourselves.
Joseph Kopser: Absolutely.
Brian: I love the quick addition when you are talking about Lamar that he represents Austin and San Antonio in title only.
Joseph Kopser: Yes. He hasn't had a town hall in several years.
Quinn: That's incredible.
Joseph Kopser: That's a growing trend among too many people in Congress today, Democrats and Republicans alike, and I hope to change that.
Quinn: I love that, and one of the organizations we would like to support that's fairly new, like so many things since 2016, is Town Hall Project.
Joseph Kopser: Oh yeah.
Quinn: They do a good job in keeping track of who's doing bullshit like that, and how to attend the ones that are happening whether they're digital or in person.
Joseph Kopser: Yeah, I hope people follow them on Twitter. I've been proud to be a signee. I signed on to their pledge quite early on in my campaign.
Quinn: Nice. I love it.
Brian: Excellent. We'll include it in the notes for the show, of course.
Joseph Kopser: Cool.
Brian: Let's get our conversation set up for today. We are believers in action-oriented questions, Joseph.
Joseph Kopser: Yep.
Brian: What, why, how, how to point our species in right direction. So that's the angle we're coming from today, that's what we're going to get to if that works for you.
Joseph Kopser: Sure.
Quinn: Awesome. Joseph, we start with one important question we would like to ask to get to the heart of why you are here today. Instead of saying tell us your life story, as incredibly compelling yours seems, we'd like to ask, Joseph why are you vital to the survival to the species?
Joseph Kopser: Vital to the survival of the species.
Quinn: Yes, sir. Be bold.
Joseph Kopser: I play a small part in it. I believe that if we get more people involved and if that's my part of being vital to the survival, then I guess I'm playing my small part to get more people involved. And the way that I'm trying to help is to get people to realize that if we move towards a more renewable economy, finding forms of energy and producing energy that are far more sustainable -- especially states like Texas that have an abundance of wind and solar and, of course, geothermal -- and then if we can find ways not only to produce it more locally, but then also store it more efficiently in a distributive way that's less on the grid and more where people live, work and play. If we can get people to recognize that that's the way to go in the future, and then add one more wrinkle which is to show and demonstrate to folks that there are real market-based, business-based practices that we can do to generate solutions for this, then it's a win-win-win.
Joseph Kopser: Like I said before, the people, profit, and planets. That's probably the part I'm going to play, is bringing these tribes together which, up until now, all too often don't like to talk to other parties involved because they inherently suspicious of them, or they demonize them so that in their tribes they can't imagine them ever being at the table together. But I've spent my whole life bringing people together from different backgrounds and so I guess that's my small part I'll play in the survival of the species.
Quinn: Hell, that sounds pretty damn good to me.
Brian: People, profit, planets.
Quinn: I love it.
Joseph Kopser: The triple bottom line.
Quinn: I love it, the triple bottom line. Awesome. Joseph we want to establish a little context for our topic today. and we usually do a little something called Context 101 with Professor Brian, where Brian gives a pretty sloppy book report about the topic at hand. We're actually going to change it up a little bit this week. Brian got a little tired of those, his hands is hurting. So what we're going to try to do is, I'm going to do a little bit of it and we'll let Brian kind of stand in for the audience a little bit more, who again, is nerdy, Pod Save American listeners. But sometimes we can get wonky or carried away and we weren't ever on the same page, so he's going to ask us some, stop us and ask pertinent questions. And Joe, considering you're a combat vet, a scientist, an entrepreneur and Congressional candidate so you can become one of the only scientists in our legislative branch, please feel free to jump in whenever sweet Brian has a question I can't answer, which is most of the time. Brian please get your questions ready.
Quinn: We're going to talk little bit today about energy grids and clean energy and renewable energy. So what's clean? Solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal? Those are sort of the four main tenants of clean renewable energy, at least mostly in the U.S. and across the world. They come in different proportions.
Brian: Hey Quinn, what's geothermal?
Quinn: Thanks for asking, Brian. That is energy that primarily comes from under the earth. You might have maybe steam coming up, something like that.
Joseph Kopser: It's also one of the oldest forms of heating and cooling, which is why we would build caves to be able to keep meat after we salted it or keep wine after we already produced it because it kept a pretty steady state temperature, especially if you go down more than 10 feet. And therefore, if you just run some pipes underneath your house or your factory you're able to circulate that water. In the summertime you cool your water and in the wintertime you warm your water, and then you circulate that through your home. And then boom, geothermal power and heating and cooling. It's great stuff.
Quinn: Yeah, and obviously you might be sitting on a great source of it, but it's obviously a tiny amount of what the Earth is putting out, so hence it's pretty renewable and you're not really burning anything. So those are the sources that provide energy, or are theoretically completely renewable and also don't ruin the place. So we're going to focus on those a little bit.
Quinn: So where does the U.S. gets its energy in 2018? Latest reports say about 62% fossil fuels; 31% is natural gas, fracking; 30% is coal; about 20% nuclear; and 18% renewable. We obviously need those to flip-flop, like, yesterday but we're making progress bit by bit. Solar technicians, wind technicians; some of the fastest growing job on the planet, especially in America. We got a long way to go, but there's also a lot of opportunity. And Joseph was talking about the triple bottom line, so not just in the resources available to us like geothermal or just the fuckin' sunshine or the wind, but also in jobs and pure money. It's a whole economy waiting to happen. So what about Texas? Texas is the second biggest state geographically behind Alaska.
Brian: Smaller than Alaska?
Quinn: Smaller than Alaska. Alaska's absolutely huge. It's totally crazy, it's just mostly empty.
Joseph Kopser: I just want to interrupt though and say that in terms of attitude, Texas is bigger than Alaska.
Quinn: That is true, that is true.
Brian: Thank you for clearing that up, Joseph.
Quinn: And we'll take that every day. And I'll tell you what; Texas, for all the shit it gets about oil, I drink your milkshake. Their breakdown was about the same as the rest of the U.S.; tons of wind, 17%; only 1% solar I think -- and Joseph you can correct me -- I believe that's because the solar deals are still about twice as expensive as wind. Is that right?
Joseph Kopser: Well, it's getting much better, faster, stronger, but I will point out that because of work done by previous governors, Republican Bush and Perry, we actually ran the transmission lines we need to bring wind from where it blows to where the people live.
Quinn: And that was in 2007, right? That was ages ago.
Joseph Kopser: They started that a long time ago, and so much so that in November of 2015, during that holiday weekend when people were really cranking up their air conditioners, we actually produced more electricity in the state from wind than any other form of electricity at that time.
Quinn: That's incredible. And I think that gets to a point, which is economists, or at least some economists or naysayers, have always said that we can't get to renewables 20% or more without the economy spiraling out of control, but wind is kicking a lot of ass.
Joseph Kopser: They've said that every step of the way, and every step of the way we continue to have a greater slice using renewables. And guess what? Our economy still has never been stronger than it is today.
Quinn: That's incredible. So the question today is could they go energy independent? And it's a little bit of a trick question because Texas is already basically energy independent. Side lesson: the U.S. electric grid, as everyone always says, is not one thing. It's not even really three things, but it is kind of three main grids that got hooked up over the course of the 20th century: the east, the west, and the Texas.
Brian: Texas has its own?
Joseph Kopser: Yes, Vericott.
Quinn: Yes, Vericott. So everything they need, they've got to produce. There's a reason for that and not surprisingly -- Joseph, correct me if I'm wrong -- from the beginning it was about not being regulated by the Feds, by Washington. Correct?
Joseph Kopser: I don't want to be too conspiracy theory oriented, but yes, we're an independent people.
Quinn: Right, got it. From what I understand, FDR signed the Federal Power Act, and because your power lines basically don't cross any state lines, you don't send much out or really bring anything in, so it's not interconnected, so Washington has nothing there. Right now it is mostly dirty, but wind and solar are growing. The question is, is how clean can they get? How fast can they get there?
Quinn: As Houstonians can tell you, these super storms will batter the shit out of your fossil fuel plants, plants on fire. But also, there is a lot to be made here out of the jobs and money. So the question is, is can they go energy independent as renewable as possible? My question is to start this off is, will voters support it and how do you pitch that to them? And those are questions we have for our man, Joseph, who's here; who's trying to do that exact thing I imagine every day. So Joseph, how do you approach these conversations with voters? You're not exactly in a blue district with a bunch of people who are already onboard. So talk us through the day-to-day life of talking about clean energy and climate with these folks.
Joseph Kopser: The first thing I do is I just meet people where they are; try to figure out what their values are, what's important to them, and then that's how we begin the conversation. So if you're if you're talking to the Farm Bureau and those ranchers and farmers that get their livelihood off of the land, and that it required clean water, access to clean water, and it'd be nice if it rained every now and then, those are the people you talk to about changing weather patterns. You talk to them about requirements, about who can dump what into the aquifers that lead into the creeks that their cows, cattle and livestock use for feeding. So wherever we are, we meet them there.
Joseph Kopser: I might be in a VFW. If I'm a VFW, I'm talking about this 17-year long war that still has no real end in sight. And then I'll remind them of the fact that ISIS got their start back in Syria about six or seven years ago after changing weather patterns crushed the Syrian wheat crops and the Syrian farmers all went into the cities to find work. They couldn't find work in the traditional form, but they did find these ISIS characters that wanted to pay them to be able to be a part of their fighting force.
Joseph Kopser: And so if you remind people that their daily lives are impacted in a way that, without saying the phrase climate change, is vulnerable to or is in some way, shape, or form impacted by energy and the environment in a way they're maybe not thinking about, then that's your door. That's the door that you [inaudible 00:27:27] then you have that conversation. Hurricane Harvey and the tragedy that it brought to this state and along the Gulf Coast has been a source of conversation among people who may have never talked much about changing weather patterns in the past. So that's the first thing that you have to do.
Joseph Kopser: And then secondly, what you have to do is you've got to hit them in their pocketbooks and talk about the financial impact that you're having and the decisions that people make. And so I'm a big proponent of reminding folks that we can clean the air, we can keep the lakes and rivers clean, we can have market-based solutions that get at these problems, and then that's where I usually end it right there with them and then let them ask me, "How's that? What does that look like?" Without going all too much nerd at first. But I just want them to start with what the problem is and how it's-
Brian: You can't go full nerd right away.
Joseph Kopser: [inaudible 00:28:18] You can't go full nerd too fast.
Quinn: Yeah, Brian has that problem all the time. Do you really, you never start with climate change? Or do you just avoid that specific title whatsoever?
Joseph Kopser: Eh, it just depends on who I'm talking to. But no, I don't lead with climate change. If I lead with anything, I talk about the fact that in Iraq, our soldiers in Afghanistan are delivering fuel and diesel and JPA out to remote locations to be able to run our generators. And I ask the simple question why is it that we're using generators -- at least when I was there in 2004 and 6, we made some improvements -- but why is it that we're using generators built 10, 20, 30 years ago that are horribly fuel-inefficient, meaning that they keep our equipment running? We've got American soldiers putting their lives at risk delivering fuel to a gas-guzzling diesel generator for the sole purpose of running a series of air conditioners or electrical equipment that, oh by the way, have no thermostats.
Joseph Kopser: And oh, by the way, when you get soldiers on the road delivering that fuel, that's when they are most susceptible to roadside bombs, to interdiction from the enemy -- that's what the military calls soft targets -- and we're losing life, we're losing limb literally delivering carbon-based fuels. And if that doesn't get them to pay attention, then there's almost no way to reach them. And so I change the message delivery, but my values don't change; just the message delivery about how I approach people, meet them where they are, and what's important to them.
Brian: Are people walking away from these conversations pretty ... How do they walk away from these conversations with you?
Joseph Kopser: They're walking away realizing that I'm trying to be pragmatic about it. They walk away realizing that my goal, the in-state, is to get us to a point where we are moving towards a greater share of our energy economy [inaudible 00:30:21]. And I'm making the argument that there's a business case for it. We'll employ a lot more people, and our rivers and lakes will stay cleaner in the process of doing that. Then it gets them to scratch [inaudible 00:30:32].
Brian: How are the utilities? What is their stance and process on incorporating more renewables into the Texas grid?
Joseph Kopser: It depends on who you're talking to. It's different by different communities. Georgetown, Texas, just north of Austin, one of the most conservative areas but they've certainly had a lot of elected Republicans for a very little time there, and they have moved. If you check my facts and throw it on your website, they've moved to a 100% renewable economy for their power production. Georgetown, Texas. Why? Because they saw the math of what they could do with wind, excuse me, solar. And so for them, it was a decision based on finances.
Joseph Kopser: And then secondly ... There's two power plants here in Texas last fall that shut down. They were coal producing, excuse me, coal-fired electrical production plants here in the state of Texas. They shut down. Their board of directors made the decision to shut it down because natural gas prices are so much cheaper that that is a much better option for them. And as we know, coal uses more water in the full life cycle from extraction through the point of production to make electricity than natural gas does, and so that is a step towards progress.
Joseph Kopser: And again, I got nothing against coal miners. They just happen to be working in an industry that is producing one of the dirtiest, most water-intensive forms of carbon fuel that we have. And I want to see more production move towards cleaner forms which, in this case right now, is natural gas. Now all that being said, I had a lot of friends, a lot of environmentalist friends that cheered the shutdown of those two plants, but I put up the big time-out symbol and I said, "Time out, hold on, hold on. That was 600 Texas families that got the pink slip because their coal plant, their coal-fired plant was shut down, and we either need to embrace them and be a part of seeing them put right or we've just made 600 people angry against this movement towards a cleaner energy economy, and we've got to make sure we're pointing out all sides of the story when we talk about it."
Quinn: It's one thing to cheer them. It's great, we're making progress. But we need to have a constructive backup plan, and that doesn't apply just to Texas. But talking about jobs, from my research it looks like Texas has something like 9,000 megawatts of wind lined up, not even hooked up yet. Wind tech is the fastest growing job in the U.S. Why wouldn't Texas be building 100 wind tech vocational schools so that when these coal miners are let go on Friday, on Monday they're starting to train for clean energy, for renewable energy?
Joseph Kopser: If I can get into Congress, I'm going to start moving in the direction of moving towards that. But you have to acknowledge or else it's hard to get this ball moving down the field, which is the clean energy economy has become so synonymous with Democrats and/or far-right Republicans that are just trying to throw up dust or obstacles in the way; that are trying to make anything that moves towards a cleaner energy economy seem like some kind of socialist Democratic conspiracy; that it's doing a disserve to not only our politics, but it's doing a disservice to the business community as well because slowly but surely, they're figuring out that there are all these great opportunities in renewables here in the state, and I hope to be a part of that pragmatic conversation going forward.
Quinn: Question. Let's say you get voted into office, which would be just wonderful. Would you find it easier to appeal to your constituents, the ones who voted for you and the ones who didn't, to initiate more clean energy products and processes in the U.S.? Do you see that flying better with more regulation through the EPA, or with something like a carbon fee, or as some people say, carbon tax? We know that's not going to fly.
Joseph Kopser: Long term, we've got to right price carbon in our market. We have to. Period. And the analogy that I love to use with people, whether I'm in an older VFW that still has the ceiling tiles that are smoke-infested, and I just simply ask them the question, "Who's going to clean those ceiling tiles?" And then they're like, "What do you mean, clean those ceiling tiles?" I say, "We've been smoking, you guys have been smoking in this VFW now for 50, 60 years. Those ceiling tiles are going to need to be cleaned. What is the cost of cleaning them?" And then they say, "You know, it's this" or "We'll just replace them. It'll cost such and such."
Joseph Kopser: I say, "Okay, fine. Who pays for that?" And it's like, "Well, VFW pays for that." I say, "Why not the people who came in here and smoked it up? Why not ask them to contribute 10 cents or a nickel for every pack of cigarettes they're in here smoking, so that when you do have to replace the ceiling tiles then you can pay for it?" And they shrug their shoulders and say, "Well, that kind of makes sense."
Joseph Kopser: And I say, "Now, why can't we do the same thing with carbon-based fuels that we have today and then allow that pricing incentive to be able to change behavior and move in the direction that is not only better for the economy, but also right prices it? Then we can talk about what we do with that money that we raise later on, who gets to use it, what it gets used for. But until we have people realizing that carbon has a price tag at the end that we're not accounting for, we're not going to be able to move forward."
Quinn: Have you seen any specific carbon pricing plans or theories that you're onboard with?
Joseph Kopser: Not any one particular. I do put on my website just the general overview of how I'd like to see it done. But I read many different versions and I'm excited about all of them. But none of them will go forward without a bi-partisan approach, which gives me great, great confidence in what I saw last week. I go too fast nowadays to read these stories in detail, but if I'm not mistaken a nice piece of legislation was just put forward by two Republicans if I'm not mistaken, backed up with letters of support from about 30 or so energy producers, to include some of the big oil companies who said look folks, we're onboard with carbon pricing; you've just got to have it be very clear and be very predictable. And once we know what the rules are, we're happy to get onboard because it's a win-win for folks down the road.
Quinn: We'll have to dig that up, Brian.
Brian: Yeah, I'm on it.
Quinn: Dig that one out. Getting to carbon pricing is interesting because Texas uses a hell of a lot of energy, doesn't it?
Joseph Kopser: Yes.
Quinn: I think it's been number one for 50 years? It blows California, which has way more people, right out of the water.
Joseph Kopser: We have a huge manufacturing base. Two, we don't have the same kind of stringent regulations that California does. Third, we have, of course, the huge refinery industry that's here. And then fourth, our automobiles aren't under the same emission standards that California has. And then lastly, the secret contributor that people don't talk about much is concrete. There's a whole lot of concrete in Texas, and that production extraction and then actually putting the concrete in contributes quite a bit as well.
Quinn: The Texan people kind of get a little bit of a bad rap because per capita, you're actually probably doing all right. But the massive refineries and manufacturing, a lot of those refineries then turning around and spitting out energy, of course. But right now with those methods, it takes energy to make energy.
Joseph Kopser: Yes.
Brian: If the fossil fuel plans go away, then, energy use goes down?
Joseph Kopser: It's not that energy use goes down. Again, I want to focus on the abundance. We have a ton of wind and solar and geothermal as well as hydro, especially using our coastline. It's not that our energy usage will go down. I'm not asking people to use less. I'm asking people to use cleaner forms of energy and there is a way to do both.
Quinn: Do you think where California's had to go crazy on the water situation because three-quarters of its cities shouldn't exist in the past couple of years, and because of regulations on the cars and things like that and rolling blackouts, is there a way to ask District 21 voters to use less energy, or is that just a non-starter? Keeping in mind, again, they're not abusing it. Per capita, it's not bad. But I'm just curious.
Joseph Kopser: Again, I'm not asking people to use less energy. What I want to make sure they all understand is they've got a box they can check on almost all of their utility producers that are here that ask them if they want to pay a little bit more for cleaner forms of energy, wind and solar. And that is an option a lot of utility producers here in Texas 21. But the other thing that I want them to do is to recognize that if we, working with the energy industry, focus on the research and development needed to recycle water rather than have to extract it from the ground, use it in energy production -- whether it be fracking, whether it be coal, whether it be the other many forms that use water today -- we can recycle that water. We're using less, we're more efficient, and in the long term, it becomes cheaper and that's something that I would love people to get onboard with because we have what's called the Capture Rule, the Capture Law here in Texas, which means that if the water runs underneath your land, you're able to drill a well down and basically extract that water with very little concern for your downstream neighbors.
Joseph Kopser: It's an old, outdated law that probably needs to be updated. And by the way, that works for a rabbit running across your land on the top of the ground, as well as the water going under it, and you can understand from a very property rights oriented kind of state that we are that that's a challenge. And that's a state level battle that needs to be taken on, but I think in partnership with the federal government, we have a role to play in that.
Quinn: Fascinating. On that land rights, property rights message, thinking again about solar and wind a little bit, where are most of the solar existing and new solar and wind installations going? Because that's a big question across the U.S., is obviously moving over to fully renewables is a question of placement where can something most consistently produce energy, either wind or solar, so it can't be too far in the northeast; it's going to have seven months of winter or a place where the wind doesn't blow. But then we get to transmission and then we also get to storage. We got to fix the battery problem. Where are those wind and solar installations going in in Texas when they're growing like crazy? Is any of that stuff on public land or are they private farms, or are they rooftops? What's the story there?
Joseph Kopser: It's D, all of the above. So without getting into the specifics and be perhaps misquoted, there's several things that are happening. The wind blows in this state at the coastline and out in the western part of the state where it's generally flatter, and in some places the wind just absolutely never stops. However, not a lot of people that live out there, which is why the transmission lines to be able to get it there is so important. The next battle that's coming is where are those transmission lines going to go because the closer and closer they get to high dense populations, you're going to have fights with homeowners as to whether or not they go through our neighborhoods, that they go through our protected areas, that they go through our beautiful natural parks. That's going to be a real issue.
Joseph Kopser: Second point, there an ever increasing amount of discussion about how we use our military installations that have a ton of land -- there's over 96 military installations in Texas -- but don't necessarily having people using those for reasons of either there might be a protected species out there, there might be old unexploded ordinance, there might be reasons why we don't use all that land. But the federal government or the state government and military uses that land but nobody's on it.
Joseph Kopser: Just recently, summer of 2017, if I've got my numbers right Fort Hood, Texas, right in the middle of the state, opened up 10 megawatts of solar on its own land and then got into a partnership deal with 50 megawatts down the road and then built the transmission lines to bring that in. That is a clear example of where the federal government's using its purse strings and the lands to be able to provide these incentives.
Quinn: How did that go over?
Joseph Kopser: I've seen no complaints since they started it. And more importantly, what people realized is that provides not only energy surety, but it provides energy security because if we're able to produce more of our electricity on our military installations, it makes us less susceptible to someone hacking into the grid and making it harder. So we're trying to create those islands of energy sustainability and energy security.
Joseph Kopser: And then the third, of course, is rooftop, which running for Congress I wouldn't have been able to tell you beforehand how many folks had rooftop solar until actually getting out there and knocking doors and walking through neighborhoods. And I've been very pleasantly impressed with how many southward facing rooftops we've got in our district with people installing solar.
Brian: Oh really?
Quinn: Are there specific incentives in your district from the utilities for rooftops? Because I know it varies in every district in America.
Joseph Kopser: There were certainly in the path. Where [inaudible 00:43:53] right now, I don't know exactly, but we do need to be able to provide those incentives, to be able to keep that going because long term it's going to get ... Now what we've got to tackle is the larger discussion about what happens when a person can generate more electricity onsite and then can actually contribute it back to the grid? There's problems about the cleanliness of that electricity and making sure that it doesn't hurt or harm the grid itself. But then also getting at the regulations and saying wait, if this person is an energy producer, then they fall under a different set of rates and fees. And when I met a gentleman, a husband and wife that had a big solar panel on their land, out on their ranch, they were actually not able to sell it back because it would actually be more expensive because they would be liable to the higher fees.
Joseph Kopser: Now I haven't investigated and followed up, but it's those kinds of anecdotes and stories that we need to get to the bottom of. And I know that was for the case out in Fort Bliss, Texas when they tried to sell electricity, because they built a massive solar farm out there that just dwarfs anything else on most installations, they were not allowed to sell it back when they built it -- I don't know if they can now -- to the local grid because that was seen as unfair government competition. And we just needed to change [inaudible 00:45:13]
Quinn: I understand and empathize how it's complicated. These utilities are getting hit with demands to change overnight, and they are very old institutions that were not built for this in a number of ways administratively, technically, flexibility wise. It is complicated when you suddenly not only have people producing their own energy, but then maybe they're storing it in their Tesla battery and now they want to send it back into the grid. And how do you rate that, how do you execute it, what do you do with it? Again, it's-
Joseph Kopser: Here's where we have to change how we do utilities. Utility companies in this United States should not be incentivized and governed by a business model that has them producing basically nearly unlimited amounts and then charging customers, then making their profit based on ever increasing amounts of production. We need to flip it and provide an incentive for them to operate as electricity as a service. And electricity as a service comes with so many new ways of thinking about it.
Joseph Kopser: Imagine for instance, the electrical company being incentivized to help you buy that more energy efficient refrigerator, which kind of blows people's minds. They're like, "Wait a minute. Why should my utility company be involved in what refrigerator I choose?" It's like well, wait a minute, it's one of the biggest consumers of electricity in your house. Same thing with your HVAC unit. If we get into an ecosystem holistic approach, then we're going to be able to re-flip how we talk about this.
Joseph Kopser: And another podcast that I'd encourage you to check out, your listeners are linked to, is [inaudible 00:46:53] discussion between Anne Marie Levens, one of my heroes in this world in this area from the Rocky Mountain [Institute 00:47:03]. John Powers, one of the early clean energy warriors in the United States Army, who actually worked at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. And the discussion the two of them had is a deep dive into what we're talking about here in terms of flipping that business model. It's a great discussion.
Quinn: Awesome. Much like this one, right?
Joseph Kopser: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Brian: It is very much. Let's talk about Chip Roy for a second, being called the heir apparent to his former boss, Ted Cruz, which ... Jesus. We looked over his website campaign promises; not a single item on energy or climate.
Joseph Kopser: Exactly, exactly.
Brian: Climate, I get. But anybody voting for this guy doesn't give a fuck for the climate, so whatever. But energy is the heart of Texas, right?
Joseph Kopser: Yeah.
Quinn: So what are the main specific differences between you and Chip when it comes to these issues? Where does he stand?
Joseph Kopser: I don't know where he stands other than where he has sat before. Where he has sat before is working for Ken Paxton, who is our Attorney General. Ironically, the only Attorney General in the United States that's under indictment right now.
Joseph Kopser: I don't know where he stands but I do know where he sits. It's been a fact that he used to sit and work for Ted Cruz, who needs no introduction, Ted Cruz. And then one of the earliest endorsements that he got in his race was from Lamar Smith, who says that my opponent knows more about how Washington works from being there than 90-plus members of Congress because he spent a lot of time there.
Joseph Kopser: The contrast to the issues that I would say is maybe not my opponent, don't know, he's never really talked about it yet. But the people who he has worked for and he has associated himself working for have got this belief that you are not able to create jobs and opportunities in a cleaner energy economy, and are big fans of what I've seen so far in remaining quiet as the President has pulled us out of the Clean Power Plan, pulled us out of the Paris Accords, and has done things inside the EPA that are actually rolling back the progress we made in order to be able to provide those incentives.
Joseph Kopser: For all those combined, what I would tell your listeners is the single biggest difference between me and him, between me and policy of my opponent ... Me, you could talk about policy all day. The difference is I've actually done it. And you talked about a podcast being involved and talking about things that could happen, would, should and could, I have built an organization. I co-founded it here in Texas called the Defense Energy Summit linking together practitioners in military, federal government acquisition, entrepreneurs, innovators, academics who know what they're doing, and you can go online and find this conference. It's been in action since November of 2013. It's going into November, 2018 or this fall, I think it's maybe October, its next conference out in Tampa.
Joseph Kopser: And in addition to that, like I mentioned a company that I built, [00:50:01], had that clean energy play to be able to allow people to find more efficient ways to get to work, spending less time stuck behind their wheel, spending more time getting to work ... I should say less time getting to work because they're getting to work more efficiently using a commuter optimization tool like RideScout that I built.
Joseph Kopser: My favorite part about this discussion, we talked about the clean energy economies. I've been there, done that. That's the kind of stuff that-
Quinn: You've participated in-
Joseph Kopser: Yeah. And in full disclosure, I'm a heavy investor in clean energy companies and technologies. So that's the difference and the contrast I would say between me and my opponent, is I've been there, done that.
Quinn: And then I get it, clean energy and climate change are dirty words, but when you see actual data that says these jobs are the fastest growing jobs in America, and you see that the prices of these energy deals are lower than almost anything but natural gas, and in a lot of parts of the world now are just the lowest by a long shot, and you see so many massive corporations in America jumping on the bandwagon and going renewable because it's just good for the business, they're becoming both independent and it's better for the bottom line, you just wonder what does it take for these people to get onboard and go, oh ...
Quinn: Again, you don't have to talk about climate. Just get onboard with the jobs thing or get onboard with the bottom line, whatever.
Joseph Kopser: I don't want to be too wonky, but there is metric data that's out there in terms of consumer beliefs and peoples' believes. That's important in this whole discussion. We should be, we as a community, those trying to move towards a cleaner, more renewable economy, need to focus on the people that we can impact, which are those 17-to-20% of folks that are in the middle of the bell curve of the ideological spectrum. There will be just some people who, no matter what you say, you will never be able to convince them. There's no time where they're worrying too much. You want to do right by them and save them from their own decision not to pay attention, but I saw in social media today two gentlemen at a political rally -- I don't know whose rally it was exactly -- but their t-shirt said-
Quinn: With the Russia shirts? Ah.
Joseph Kopser: Yeah.
Brian: Oh, Jesus.
Joseph Kopser: I'd rather be a Russian than a Democrat. And when you read shirts like that, especially for someone who myself I went into West Point during the height of the Cold War against the Soviets, when the expression back then was "Better dead than red." To see people, grown men, grown adults wearing those t-shirts, recognizing that the facts of what's going on with the rising sea levels, the facts of the warming planet, we're not going to reach them with that so let's focus on the people that we can focus on, and then hopefully those two folks with those Russian t-shirts will recognize that they'll live in a cleaner energy economy in the future and they won't ever have been asked to do anything for it because I'm probably not going to win them over, not those two.
Brian: You're welcome.
Joseph Kopser: You're welcome. There you go. [inaudible 00:53:05] you're welcome.
Brian: This is perfect that you brought this up. We've talked about this with guests in the past when we've discovered that basically that some people that we might not agree with other than on massive issues like the climate changing, the message is more important than the ... Sorry, the messenger is more important than the message.
Joseph Kopser: Yes.
Joseph Kopser: That's 100%-
Quinn: Nobody wants us yelling at them, even though we try not to take that tac. We try to meet them where they are and where their values are, but at the same time it might have to be your Reverend or a former coal miner, or someone like that. And the guys with the Russia t-shirts-
Joseph Kopser: How about the 20-year Army combat vet, businessman who goes to the VFW and tells them at the Chamber of Commerce that our addiction to oil is costing the lives of American soldiers?
Quinn: Exactly, exactly.
Joseph Kopser: [inaudible 00:54:00]
Quinn: So our focal point has been to develop and present specific action our listeners can take to act, whether they're in Texas in District 21 or they're not. So it's either for an issue or against it, or help a specific science field, or a scientist or expedition or education or candidates. We're talking to a whole bunch of you folks before November 6th, and I'm going to need a hell of a lot of Zantac.
Quinn: The point is, we're all in. So Joseph, talk to us. How can we and how can our listeners specifically help you get there on November 6th and then afterwards?
Joseph Kopser: Thank you. I'm going to mention two groups that it would call quote-unquote "partisan" groups and then two groups that are non-partisan or bi-partisan, and so it's important for your listeners ... Obviously the easiest way is to help me get elected. People can use their time, treasure, or their talent. If they're talented clean energy wonks that are hearing this, my Twitter handle @JosephKopser.com, include me on articles and story I need to be reading. That's the easiest way for the talent folks in your audience.
Joseph Kopser: Those that have a lot of time in your audience, well they could actually participate from a distance if they don't live here in Texas on the campaign and that they contact us on our website. There's way we can have them help [inaudible 00:55:21] phone calls and contacting-
Quinn: Do you guys have a [crosstalk 00:55:24] and room stuff set up?
Joseph Kopser: Oh yeah.
Joseph Kopser: Oh yeah. And it shows up as a local area phone number. We can connect ... might be more likely to want to talk about energy related things. And then thirdly, treasure. That's the easiest way. Just go to our website, hit the donate button, dig deep for democracy. Every time you read a news report that makes you mad, go back to our website, click the donate button again, and we'll make it real easy for you.
Joseph Kopser: And then another group that if they want to help more than just us is a group called 3-1-4 Action, off of Pi. 314 Action's trying to get more science and STEM related folks like myself into office. And then on the non-partisan side where energy, security and policy meet up, there's a group [inaudible 00:56:05] Operation Free. They're trying to get all kinds of folks, military, vets out to talk about the impact of our lack of energy security policy on policymakers. It's bipartisan, it's a great organization. Or, I'd say it's non-partisan.
Joseph Kopser: And then the Rocky Mountain Institute is another great one. They do a lot of great research and work in this area. It's non-partisan as well and I'd recommend all four of those. But I'm biased. Go to KosperForCongress.com first.
Brian: Of course.
Joseph Kopser: [inaudible 00:56:34]
Quinn: Absolutely. And I'm fascinated by the Operation Free Air. I would love to hear more about that.
Joseph Kopser: Yeah.
Brian: In a broader context, one of our overarching goals is to shine a light on where we need to go as a people. What are the big actionable questions the rest of us should be asking our representatives currently and in the future wherever we live?
Joseph Kopser: I think the first thing is what is my elected leader doing to incentivize and change behaviors to allow people to move towards a cleaner energy economy. There's a reason why we have the oil and gas industry in the U.S., it was called World War II. We needed to beat the Germans and the eastern front first, so we built a pipeline from Louisiana to New York to be able to keep it going because when we sailed those boats around Florida, they were sinking our oil tankers off our coastline. So we created the incentives to be able to allow that industry to have those pipelines.
Joseph Kopser: So what are we doing now for the national security? Again, keep it in the same context, to incentivize the private sector to move off of a dependence on foreign sources of fuel? And then we can talk later on about how we make them cleaner in the process. That's it. That's the very first. And then if your listeners want to get into the questions about right pricing carbon in the marketplace, that's great, too, but I think those are the harder issues. But that's where I'd start.
Quinn: Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. Well listen, we're getting close to time here. Can't thank you enough for all your time today. Who else should we talk to, Joseph? We've got a pretty awesome lineup of candidates coming up; a lot of 314's folks who they've endorsed and they're supporting their scientists, doctors, engineers who can make a difference in Congress helping to make the laws. But you know, anybody who's working on that, we'd like to say existential-ish stuff whether they're trying to make something incredible or trying to defend us from something that's not great that can speak to it and we can ask questions about and we can help support in some way. If you've got anybody else, we would love to hear about them.
Joseph Kopser: Absolutely. On the political side of things, M.J. Hagar in Texas 31; Gina Ortiz Jones, Texas 23. All three of us are combat vets all up and down Interstate 35 here in central Texas, you would really enjoy that conversation. And then there is a company here in Texas called Stealth Power that is doing some pretty cool work to operationalize on-unit storage for batteries for trucks, towers, fire trucks, police cars to be able to take all that requirement they have to run computers off the [00:59:41] on their batteries that are recharged by the moving of the cars. It's called self-powers grate. There's a guy named Shannon [inaudible 00:59:46], long-time Army buddy, nuclear engineer, friend of mine. You'd love talking to him.
Joseph Kopser: And then up on the east coast, of course my buddy, John Powers, who was a role model of mine. Like I say, he worked for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, he was at the early days of Operation Free in the Truman National Security Project. That's just a few of them. Of course, anybody out at Rocky Mountain Energy Institute, they do great work. I'd point you out there. There's all kinds of groups.
Joseph Kopser: Michael Weber. You've got to get Michael Weber. He is one of the premier and water experts at the University of Texas. He runs an organization called the Weber Institute that is making practical changes happen very quickly. And those should get you started.
Brian: That's incredible.
Quinn: That's a hell of a list. We'll take it.
Brian: Thank you.
Joseph Kopser: [inaudible 01:00:34]
Quinn: I love it, I love it. And so again, just to summarize what our listeners and progressives and folks that want a clean energy revolution can do to take action, to specific ways to support you getting into Congress which will hopefully again build more clean energy action. Go to the KopserForCongress.com, that is K-O-P-S-E-R-for-Congress-dot-com. Donate and sign up to make phone calls. Help in some way whether you're in District 21 or in Texas or anywhere else. Help turn this 30-plus year red district blue, which is crazy but we have a chance to do that, which would be incredible. Put a actual scientist and entrepreneur into office, which we are severely lacking in, much less one with a actual clean energy background like you said who has built and participated in that revolution themselves.
Brian: Walked the walk.
Quinn: That's right. And then also, ask your representatives of your districts whether they're now or after November 6th if we're all still here, what are you doing to get our district towards cleaner energy and towards better jobs participating in that new economy, and get some specific answers from them. And then if they don't get them, if you don't get them keep pestering them or run yourself because we need people out there who are ready and willing to ask those questions and keep pushing.
Joseph Kopser: There you go. Well thanks for having me on, guys.
Quinn: Brian's got a quick little lightning round for you and then I think we'll let you get out of here. Okay?
Brian: Yeah, yeah. We have just a few questions if that sounds all right. Quinn, you want to hit him with the non-lightning?
Quinn: Yeah. I got to tone these down. Joseph, when was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?
Joseph Kopser: Sixth grade, 12 years old. My teacher, Mrs. Audrey Grevious, instilled in all of us the idea that if you see a problem, fix it. So I've known for a very long time.
Quinn: That is awesome. What is her name again?
Joseph Kopser: Audrey Grevious. She was my sixth grade teacher, civil rights icon in the '50s and '60s, and she said don't wait on other people and don't wait on government. When you see a problem, go and fix it.
Quinn: Oh man, that is awesome, and that is so clearly just bursting out of you.
Brian: Yeah. No hesitation at all.
Quinn: That's awesome.
Brian: So any answer to any question like that that has to do with a impactful teacher, I just love. Such an important part of our youth.
Quinn: Joseph, who is someone in your life that's positively impacted your work in the past six months?
Joseph Kopser: Getting very specific; positively impacted my work in the last six months. It's go to be Craig Cummings, my co-founder in RideScout and all the work that he's done. He's been a partner in business, a great friend along the ages, and one of the biggest supporters of what we're trying to do. And anytime this trail wears me down or drives me crazy, all I need to do is call him and he fires up my batteries again and sends me back out on the trail.
Quinn: I love it. And I guess related to that, what do you do when you get overwhelmed by all this bullshit?
Joseph Kopser: Drink a beer and remember I'm doing the best I can, and that you can only fix the problems that are around you. And ideally, over time you can add more people to it.
Quinn: What's your beer of choice, Joseph?
Joseph Kopser: Free, cool, and wet is my favorite beer. That's my favorite beer. My beer of choice is when I'm out and about now is [inaudible 01:03:56], which is a beer that's brewed right here at the Real L Brewery inside our district, Texas 21, in Waco, Texas. The beer that's at my house the most is Miller Lite because that's the beer I grew up on and it's easy and cheap, and I've been drinking it for years.
Quinn: I love the specifics. Brian's going to put that local beer in our show notes for sure.
Brian: Ah, it's so good. Joseph, how do you consume the news?
Joseph Kopser: Every way possible. Podcast has become increasingly my favorite. I'll take four or five different feeds in the morning of different backgrounds, everything from Fox News to MSNBC, PBS, NPR, and then use that during my workouts in the morning so that I'm not only blowing off some steam but I'm also reloading my brain with what's important and what's on the news. But I also try to listen to thought pieces as well, folks like Econ Talk with Russ Roberts, so I'm getting more in-depth and not just the news of the day.
Quinn: For sure. That is important, not just the hot takes. Brian's favorite question.
Brian: Last question. If you could Amazon Prime one book to the current president, what would it be?
Joseph Kopser: How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Quinn: Hey, that's the second time we've had that one.
Joseph Kopser: That's pretty ... He could benefit from that.
Quinn: It is a damn good one.
Brian: Will you give us your Twitter handle again? Anywhere else we can follow you and our listeners can follow you online, Joseph?
Joseph Kopser: I go by @JosephKosper and the campaign is @Kospser4 -- the number 4 -- Congress.
Quinn: I love it. Joseph, how's the polling going? What are we looking at?
Joseph Kopser: Oh, it's going in the right place. Bottom line, once people hear my story, those independents in the middle just want to see calm from the chaos. They're less worried about the issues of the extremes, the polarizing politics, and they just want to get stuff done.
Quinn: Ah, hell yeah. What we're going to do, we can help that out and bump it up even higher. We can't thank you enough for your time today, and for stepping up and deciding to now participate quite directly in democracy and help influence the world for future generations here. So thank you, Joseph. We hope you keep kicking ass out there.
Joseph Kopser: Okay. Thanks a lot. Sorry I had to leave early. I've got another call coming in, but I look forward to hearing the podcast and staying in touch.
Quinn: Not at all. Take care. Good luck.
Brian: That sounds great. Thank you, Joseph.
Joseph Kopser: Take care, guys.
Quinn: All right, thank you.
Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute or awesome workout or dish washing or fuckin' dog walking late at night, that much more pleasant. As a reminder please subscribe to our free email newsletter at ImportantNotImportant.com. It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.
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Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website, ImportantNotImportant.com.
Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jammin' music, to all of you for listening, and finally most importantly to our moms for making us. Have a great day.
Brian: Thanks, guys.