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Former Washington Journalist
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Gov. Greg Abbott, and other Republican state leaders of Texas, are more interested in pointing political fingers rather than deal with the key issues in the midst of the ongoing deep freeze and power outage in the Lone Star State.
Millions of power customers in Texas were being brought back online after days of massive blackouts. As natural gas fired plants, utility scale wind power and coal plants tripped offline due to the extreme cold brought by the winter storm, the amount of power supplied to the grid to be distributed across the state fell rapidly. At the same time, demand was increasing as consumers and businesses turned up the heat and stayed inside to avoid the weather.
Since last Thursday, 16 Texans have died from weather-related circumstances.
Throughout the days-long emergency, however, Abbott and other high-level Texas Republicans have gone on TV–particularly Fox News–to try to blame the conditions on clean energy sources like wind and solar.
“So what is failing right now? What is failing right now is the majority of the power source. And that power comes from what? Oil and gas. Weatherizing this equipment is voluntary in Texas. And guess what, they didn’t choose that option. Only in 2021 could we be told that in a state rich in energy — this is Texas, right, oil country — that the root of the problem is wind or solar,” CNN host Don Lemon said on-air. “And some people are just eating it up, buying it. But it is a lie. Wind turbines, not the problem. The Green New Deal, not the problem. The real problem is right in front of their eyes. The agency that runs most of the power grid in Texas reports that the natural gas and coal generate more than half of the state’s power. Wind power is minuscule compared to that. And yet the governor is making this massive and very dangerous and deadly outage all about politics. Fossil fuel is necessary to heat homes.
“So, Gov. Abbott, where is the fuel to heat homes all across Texas? Where is it? Where is it? Where’s the fuel to keep gas stations up and running, Gov. Abbott? Instead of politicizing it on conservative TV, where is it?” Lemon asked. “Or to keep food and household supplies on supermarket shelves, where is it? Because a lot of those shelves are empty right now.”
Chris Hayes, Lemon’s counterpart on MSNBC, also called out Abbott and other Texas Republicans.
“They are trying to convince Americans that is the state of J.R. Ewing and the Houston Oilers was actually covertly turned into a lefty bastion of green energy and that’s the source of the problem,” Hayes said.
Meanwhile, Texas Democratic Congressman Julian Castro compared the current failure of the power grid, to the contamination of the drinking water several years ago in Flint, Mich.
“This is becoming the worst state-level policy disaster since the Flint water crisis. And as you pointed out we have state leadership, Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, that want to point fingers to everything except the problem. For the last few decades they have been the problem. This is not the breakdown of the system. This is a system that is broken down by design,” Castro said. “It’s designed not to incentivize weatherization of these facilities, it’s designed not to incentivize being ready for a cold weather event like this.
“And on top of that, a lot of people will probably get the the highest electricity bill they have ever had when this is done, even though they don’t have power right now, because the way that the system, that [the Electric Reliability Council of Texas] runs, allows for price spikes that are absolutely through the roof, more than 300 percent over the last few days. So this is just the beginning of this human level disaster and economic disaster for a lot of families,” Castro added.
Despite Abbott and others pointing fingers at Democrats, Texas long has been administered by Republicans, according to former Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke.
“There has been complete Republican control of the state of Texas for 20 years. So, for example, the Public Utility Commission, which oversees and regulates the electric utilities we’re talking about now, he makes the appointments onto that commission,” O’Rourke said. “The Railroad Commission, which regulates actually not railroads but the oil and gas industry in Texas, there are three statewide elected commissioners, all of them are Republicans. So, the decision to deregulate our electricity grid in the first place and not to require additional capacity in emergencies like these, nor to connect to the rest of the national grids that we can draw down power we needed, these are all decisions made by Greg Abbott, [former governor] Rick Perry, their predecessors and other statewide elected Republicans.”
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