As brutal winter storms cause mass power outages in Texas, already claiming at least 20 lives and throwing the state into anarchic chaos, Republicans are scrambling to blame the crisis on anything other than the state’s deeply entrenched opposition to regulation and its over-reliance on private entities to provide services that should rightfully be provided, or at least regulated to ensure delivery and fairness, by the government. Unfortunately for innocent Texans, the mortal bill for the far-right policies their elected officials have pursued for years has finally come due.
According to a pair of Texas governors, current and past, that sacrifice is one Texans should be willing to make in order to stick it to Democrats and keep money flowing into the deep, Republican-funding pockets of fossil fuel giants.
Part of the problem appears to be that natural gas pipelines have frozen as temperatures plunge to their lowest in decades. That fact doesn’t fit into the aggressively pro-fossil fuel Republican worldview so they are rolling out a blatant lie campaign insisting that the outages are being caused by green energy sources.
With his constituents struggling to survive, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) had the gall to go on Fox News last night and blatantly lie by blaming the electricity shortages on solar and wind power sources. The shameful claim is largely based on a few photographs of wind turbines frozen solid and inoperable — a striking image to be sure but one which does not even begin to fully encapsulate the reality of Texas’s problem. Some critics have blamed an alleged profit-maximizing decision to not pay for cold weather turbine insulation for the failures. On top of that, wind and solar account for only 21% of the state’s electricity. Simply put, it’s impossible for clean energy to be the culprit here.
The Lone Star State has long maintained its own energy grid separate from the larger United States as a way of remaining independent from the federal government and presumably to pander to would-be secessionists. As a result, the grid was allowed to avoid regulations implemented in other parts of the country making it ripe for a critical failure like this one.
Texas Gov. Abbott blames solar and wind for the blackouts in his state and says "this shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America" pic.twitter.com/YfVwa3YRZQ
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) February 17, 2021
As it turns out, a former inhabitant of the Texas Governor’s Mansion shares Abbott’s disgraceful opinion on this topic. Rick Perry, a former Texas governor and the former Energy Secretary for President Trump is quoted in a post on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s website insisting that Texans will happily allow the death and destruction caused by irresponsible conservative policies to continue if it means sticking it to the federal government.
“Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business. Try not to let whatever the crisis of the day is take your eye off of having a resilient grid that keeps America safe personally, economically, and strategically,” said Perry.
Of course, it’s easy for a millionaire like Perry to urge others to simply grin and bear it when he has the resources to keep himself safe and warm — or even jet off on a Caribbean vacation if he really wants to escape the cold. There is no empathy here, only politics. The idea that Perry would suggest Texans should go without power — when he knows very well that people are freezing, starving, and dying — in order to prevent President Biden from stepping in to save lives is as cruelly disgusting as it gets.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Perry also made sure to aid the Republican Party’s new shameful attempts to scapegoat clean energy.
“If wind and solar is where we’re headed, the last 48 hours ought to give everybody a real pause and go wait a minute. We need to have a baseload. And the only way you can get a baseload in this country is [with] natural gas, coal, and nuclear,” he said, completely misrepresenting the reality on the ground.
The sad fact is that these conservative lies are likely to spread and ultimately discourage the people of Texas from holding the GOP responsible for the tragedy currently unfolding. Republican officials won’t be forced to adjust their behavior in any way, laying the groundwork for a repeat at some point in the future.