There’s nothing like six days without elec­tricity in the middle of a record heat wave to leave one with the feeling that some­body must be doing some­thing wrong. I shouldn’t really com­plain too much. Some of our neigh­bors had trees crash through their houses during the storm, and others went more than a week without power after­wards. And when the utility trucks rolled up our street at 10 pm last Thursday night, it was obvious that the crews – brought in from all over the north­east, including Canada — were working as hard as pos­sible in extremely dif­fi­cult conditions.

So who should we blame? My former CFR col­league Stephen Flynn, now at the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, has a pretty good set of answers in a report titled Pow­ering America’s Energy Resilience, which was released in May by the Center for National Policy. Vul­ner­a­bility to the kind of lengthy power outage we just expe­ri­enced, the report argues, is a failure of col­lec­tive respon­si­bility; the United States has simply not made it a pri­ority to sus­tain and improve the infra­struc­ture that is vital to our daily lives. Former Sec­re­tary of Energy Bill Richardson once described the United States as “a super­power with a third-​​world grid.”

Read the article at Council on Foreign Relations →