Millions of Texans who have lost power—including my mom!—are struggling to stay warm during a historic winter storm; several people, including some children, have died as a direct result of their efforts to heat their homes. But on Tuesday night, Texas’s Republican Governor and utter shithead Greg Abbott decided to go on Fox News to rant about the Green New Deal and pin the blame for the widespread power outages not on the actual causes of the electrical grid’s failure, but on wind and solar energy.
“My question is, if you have these rolling blackouts, and you got freezing weather, and they’re not reliable, and it’s use it or lose it, what good is it?” Fox News host Sean Hannity asked, referring to wind and solar energy.
“So this shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott responded.
You almost have to applaud Abbott for his ability and willingness to turn a crisis based on greed and shortsightedness into an opportunity to rant about legislation that hasn’t even passed—that would, if passed, actually address some of the very problems that led to millions of people being literally left in the cold! Really breathtaking stuff here.
Abbott continued: “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than ten percent of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power in a statewide basis.” (Now, one might naturally wonder at this moment, what about the other 90 percent of the state’s energy sources, but I digress!)
“As a result,” Abbott concluded, “it just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas as well as other states, to make sure we’ll be able to heat our homes in the wintertime and cool our homes in the summertime.”
Abbott wasn’t the only Texas Republican or conservative pundit to blame renewable energy sources—which again, only account for ten percent of the energy generated and used by the state during winter months—for what is in essence a massive failure directly related to deregulation and disinvestment. Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw joined in blaming frozen wind turbines, as did Fox News blowhard Tucker Carlson, who said, “The windmills failed like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died.”
But here’s more on the actual causes that have led to millions of people being without heat during a historic cold snap, via the Washington Post:
What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. 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.
On a wholly unsurprising side-note, that Texas even has its own, separate electrical grid is due to a desire to, as Houston Public Media noted, “avoid dealing with the feds,” and to avoid federal regulation and oversight.
But what is needed is precisely federal intervention and investment. Here’s what Kate Aronoff had to say at the New Republic:
Climate change will stress energy grids in ways that are all too real, part of a vicious cycle from burning prodigious amounts of fossil fuels. Thanks in no small part to decades of lobbying from fossil fuel interests in shifting the country to the right, federal investment in modernized infrastructure that could better deal with that stress has been severely lacking.
Transforming the grid for the twenty-first century demands exactly the kind of public-serving administrative creativity that fossil fuel political spending has tried to eradicate: not just to transition off fossil fuels—letting power providers accept as well as distribute power, building out transmission lines to get electrons where they’re most needed—but to make cheap and clean power available everywhere in the country. The real message of this week’s episode in Texas is not that renewable power is inherently unreliable. Nor is it that wind can just pull all the weight on a grid (it can’t). The message is that a system that is supposed to be the tip of the spear of decarbonization is buckling under the weight of stresses that will soon look mild, as we see ever-greater changes in weather thanks to global warming.
A greener and more reliable grid is within reach. Obviously loading it up with fossil fuel infrastructure isn’t the answer. But neither is simply flooding it with renewables. Everything from physical infrastructure to energy consumption habits needs to change. For that, we need a plan.
A plan that would upgrade infrastructure. Perhaps called, I don’t know, maybe... the Green New Deal? Just a thought, Greg.