Jeffrey Ball is an award-winning writer whose work focuses on energy and the environment. He is the scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School.
His stories and essays have appeared in Fortune, Foreign Affairs, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, The New York Times, New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate, among other publications. Ball came to Stanford in 2011 from The Wall Street Journal, where he was the paper's environment editor and spent more than a decade writing about energy and the environment as a reporter and a columnist. In his approximately 15 years at The Journal, he was based in the paper's Atlanta, Detroit, and Dallas bureaus, and he traveled widely. He has reported from five continents and more than 15 countries.
Ball is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate. He is co-chair of the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum, an international conference on energy and the environment launched in Yunnan Province, China, in September 2019. He contributes commentary about energy issues on WSJ.com as a member of “The Experts,” a Wall Street Journal panel. He speaks, and moderates discussions, about energy and environmental issues at gatherings in the United States and around the world. He has appeared at conferences including ECO:comics, The Journal's annual forum on energy and the environment, which he helped create and which continued for nearly a decade, and the Aspen Ideas Festival. And he visits colleges to teach and speak as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. He has been interviewed on PBS, NPR, MSNBC, and CGTN, among other networks.
In 2019, Ball won a New York Press Club Award for Journalism and was named a finalist for a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for “Lone Star Rising,” a 2018 long-form story he wrote in Fortune Magazine on how a renewed oil boom in West Texas’ iconic Permian Basin is reshaping both the region and the global energy system.
In 2015, he won the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ top energy-writing prize for “The Drama of Mexico’s Black Gold,” a 2014 long-form Fortune story on Mexico's epic bid to reform its oil sector, an industry that fuels the nation's economy, defines its psyche, and has become hugely inefficient. The judges called the tale "a gripping and insightful piece," adding: "In his vivid telling, this business story becomes about much more than executives scrambling to transform a notoriously old-fashioned and inefficient company. It is the tale of a nation deciding to open up its energy markets to the world to stay competitive—and facing a very uncertain future."
At the Stanford center, a joint initiative of the university’s law and business schools, Ball heads a project exploring the globalization of clean energy. It examines how China and the United States might deploy cleaner energy more efficiently if each played to its economic strengths. Ball was the primary author of the Stanford report based on that research, The New Solar System, and of a New York Times op-ed on the report, both published in March 2017. The New Solar System lays out a strategy to boost solar energy to a level that would contribute meaningfully to global carbon reductions. The New Solar System, which has drawn widespread media coverage, illuminates little-understood changes in the Chinese solar industry, the world’s largest, and analyzes the implications for the rise of affordable solar power in the United States and the world. It argues that the United States needs to restructure its solar policies to make them more economically efficient – including adopting a more-nuanced approach to China.
In his role at Stanford, Ball has taught and advised graduate students from such disciplines as law, business, engineering, and political science in their studies of the policy and financial implications of a global shift to a lower-carbon energy system.
Ball graduated from Yale University, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News. He and his wife are the resident fellows of Roble Hall, a Stanford undergraduate house. There, Ball conceived and directs the Roble Living Laboratory for Sustainability at Stanford, an initiative in which the house serves as a platform for Stanford undergraduates to explore the daily possibilities and difficulties of living in a more sustainable way. Ball and his wife live in Roble with approximately 300 college students -- and with exactly two daughters and one dog.
Photo by Mark Shwartz | Precourt Institute for Energy | Stanford University