Republicans Are Lying About What’s Causing The Texas Blackouts

Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images.
Since Monday, millions of Texans have been without power as a winter storm ravaged the state. On Tuesday, around 4 million people were without power, and as of Wednesday, nearly 3 million still lack electricity — all while dealing with the coldest temperatures the state has experienced in months. Experts say that there are several reasons for the power outages, but naturally, the state’s Republican leaders have found a way to shift blame onto renewable energy and use the statewide crisis to spread lies about proposed climate legislation.
“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Governor Greg Abbott told Fox News on Tuesday. “Our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid.” 
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But what made up the other 80 to 90% of the state’s power grid? The answer: fossil fuels. In a Tuesday press conference, representatives from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said that 45,000 megawatts were offline. 15,000 were wind, and 30,000 were gas and coal. “Texas is a gas state,” Michael Webber, a University of Texas energy resources professor, told the Texas Tribune. “Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, an avid critic of the Green New Deal, also jumped at the opportunity to blame green energy. “This is what happens when you force the grid to rely in part on wind as a power source. When weather conditions get as bad as they did this week, intermittent renewable energy like wind isn’t there when you need it,” he wrote on Twitter.
Despite these Republicans outright lies, there are several reasons as to why both turbines and gas failed. This week’s extreme weather conditions led to an unprecedented, high demand for energy, and power sources across the state were not built to withstand low temperatures. As many experts and scientists have pointed out, not only do wind turbines account for a small fraction of the state’s generated energy, but if they’d been properly weatherized — the way they are in Antarctica, and in other parts of the U.S. — they wouldn’t have frozen.
Of course, it isn’t exactly surprising that Abbott is dodging accountability and pointing fingers as Texans continue to die. Over the summer, his state saw a spike in COVID-19 cases less than a month after Abbott ignored skepticism from health experts and reopened the city. At the time, he also ignored Texan mayors who asked him to implement a statewide mask mandate
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Instead of confronting his own failure to lead, he blamed young people in Texas for the spread of the virus. “We believe that a lot of people have let down their guard,” he said in an interview with KLBK-TV. “The summer's here. Things are opening up. They feel like they can go out without having to wear a face mask.” He also shifted blame onto local leaders for the state’s rising case numbers in December.
At least 17 deaths have been linked to this week’s storm, including several people who died of monoxide poisoning while trying to warm up inside their cars and a family that died in a house fire. “Texans are suffering without power because those in power have failed us,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke wrote on Twitter. “As with Covid, a natural disaster has become far deadlier due to the inaction & ineptitude of Abbott and Texas’ Republican leadership. This didn’t have to happen and doesn’t have to continue.”
As always, poor and marginalized communities have been hit the hardest: According to the New York Times, low-income areas were some of the first to lose power, and are expected to be some of the last to regain it. “Whether it’s flooding from severe weather events like hurricanes or it’s something like this severe cold, the history of our response to disasters is that these communities are hit first and have to suffer the longest,” Robert Bullard, a Texas Southern University professor and environmental justice expert, told the NYT.
Conditions in Texas are grave, and once again, Abbott’s constituents — especially those most at risk — are paying the price for the state’s failure to lead and protect Texans.

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