Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been presiding over a waking nightmare, as millions of Texans have been freezing because of massive power outages caused by the failure of the state’s energy grid. A career politician who is facing what may be the most serious crisis of his governorship, it comes as no surprise that Abbott is desperate to shift the blame away from himself. But his griping about the Green New Deal is deeply dishonest, and his attempt to blame alternative-energy strategies for the catastrophe he is overseeing is pathetic.
Instead of focusing on the disaster at hand, Abbott went on Fox Tuesday and complained about wind turbines, solar power, and efforts to address the climate crisis. “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott told Sean Hannity. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.”
That was a Texas-sized fabrication.
Abbott is promoting falsehoods and playing politics in hopes of saving himself from a political reckoning for a systemic failure so severe that the head of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the agency that manages roughly 75 percent of the Texas power grid, admits, “We know millions of people are suffering.” As the state experienced the coldest temperatures in decades, families across Texas struggled without heat, light, or Internet connections. Noting that people have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from running cars and generators indoors to stay warm, Dr. Samuel Prater, the medical director of a Houston area hospital told KPRC-TV, “This is an absolute public health disaster.” Wednesday’s Washington Post headline shouted, “Deaths mount, millions still without power amid new snow, ice storm.” The Associated Press reported, “‘A complete bungle’: Texas’ energy pride goes out with cold.” Former representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.), says, “The energy capital of North America cannot provide enough energy to warm and power people’s homes. We are nearing a failed state in Texas. And it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters. It has everything to do with those in positions of public trust who have failed us.”
That’s the reason Abbott is lying about the Green New Deal, which environmental groups such as Sunrise Movement and their allies in Congress are championing “to mobilize every aspect of American society to 100% clean and renewable energy, guarantee living-wage jobs for anyone who needs one, and a just transition for both workers and frontline communities—all in the next 10 years.”
But as Texans shiver in the cold, the heat is on the mendacious governor.
Will Englund, the Post’s widely read and well-regarded energy reporter, explained after Abbott and Representative Dan Crenshaw started peddling the frozen-turbine excuse that “wind accounts for just 10 percent of the power in Texas generated during the winter. And the loss of power to the grid caused by shutdowns of thermal power plants, primarily those relying on natural gas, dwarfed the dent caused by frozen wind turbines, by a factor of five or six.”
“What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans,” wrote Englund. “It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat who has sponsored the Green New Deal resolution in the House, noted that Abbott was “blaming policies he hasn’t even implemented for his own failures.” She concluded: “The real ‘deadly deal’ is his failed leadership.”
“So many Texans are in desperate conditions without heat, water, and little relief,” observed AOC. “Abbott needs to get off TV pointing fingers and start helping people. After that, he needs to read a book on his own state’s energy supply.”
The governor should also start listening to some of the millions of Texans stuck in the cold without power.
While Abbott was talking nonsense on cable television, Sunrise Movement responded to the crisis by announcing that it is “working with its local Texas hubs to provide mutual aid to families in need on the ground, and has raised tens of thousands of dollars to support these efforts to make up for the government’s failures.” The group also released a message from Paris Moran, its digital director, who lives in San Antonio. “On Sunday, my household lost power. Our food went bad. We don’t have a consistent water flow. My family and I are sustaining on one meal a day as food deserts worsen. And each moment without power, my heart breaks as my parents suffer not only from the storm, but because they can’t use the medical devices they rely on to ease them of pain. We are hungry, thirsty, cold, and hurting. And we are not alone in this,” wrote Moran, who added:’“
“Millions of Texans are suffering without power trying to find food, clean water and a heated place to stay. News outlets have shared stories telling people how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning as they try to stay warm in a record cold winter. We are truly fighting for our survival. And how does Governor Abbott respond? Instead of working to address this crisis, he gets on Fox News and lies about the Green New Deal, scapegoating policies that have yet to be enacted instead of taking responsibility for his own failures.
“Governor Abbott has failed to protect Texans from the climate crisis, promoting a deadly fossil fuel economy and selling us out alongside other leaders for privatization and destructive deregulation. He failed to ensure we were prepared for an extreme weather event like this, and now he’s failing to protect us in our moment of need. It is time for him to resign.
“Abbott and the Republican Party have proven that they will not govern under any circumstance, no matter how many lives are at risk. Whether it’s utility blackouts, the climate crisis, or coronavirus, it’s easier to find misinformation here in Texas than actual updates from our government, utility companies, and other institutions.”
Moran issue a call to action to “ensure communities like mine, especially communities of color who often face the brunt of the catastrophes, are equipped and empowered to handle them.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Moran concluded. “We deserve a government that addresses our basic needs and protects all of us in moments of crisis. Despite the lies you’ll hear from Governor Abbott on Fox News, that’s truly what the Green New Deal is all about. Now is the moment to invest in resilient infrastructure, ensure a social safety net that protects all of us, and halt the climate crisis once and for all. We must come together and rebuild an era of prosperity through the Decade of The Green New Deal.”