Tuesday, February 23

Republican leaders in Texas face growing backlash as power crisis deepens | Texas

As Texas struggled Thursday with a disastrous lack of power, food, and water following the deadly storm that brought Arctic temperatures to the southern U.S., the state’s Republican leadership was hit by a growing outcry over the bad power grid management and painfully slow emergency response. .

Residents flocked to elementary schools in makeshift “warming centers,” moving in with family and friends who had heat, despite the risks of the coronavirus, or simply staying indoors in dilapidated conditions.

Some do not have enough water to drink, much less to wash. Others are dealing with flooding from broken pipes, unreliable gas and electricity service, and “boil the water” advisories spreading to other major cities.

And with at least two dozen confirmed deaths in the state since the weekend’s storm, the National Weather Service announced Wednesday that a new storm front would likely bring another round of cold temperatures to Texas and “significant accumulations of ice.”

Immediate risks to the most vulnerable residents continued to be exposure, malnutrition, and the threat of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning when residents sat inside cars, brought grills indoors and used fireplaces for the first time in years in a I try to stay warm

But the state’s Republican governor, nationally elected officials, and the Republican-led state legislature were separately dealing with a growing backlash over an inability to restore power for days as residents queued for measly supplies of groceries. and queued for miles to buy gas.

A particular focus of anger Thursday was Senator Ted Cruz, who was seen leaving icy Houston on Wednesday on a flight to Cancun, Mexico, the popular beach destination south of the border.

Cruz “is on vacation in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state he was elected to represent and serve,” said former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who made a strong run against Cruz for his He sat in the Senate in 2018 and then ran for president in the 2020 election, he said on MSNBC.

O’Rourke blamed decades of Republican leadership in the state for failing to embrace alternative energy and maintaining a durable energy infrastructure. “There has been complete Republican control of the state of Texas for 20 years,” O’Rourke said.

In an effort to anticipate the ire of voters, Governor Greg Abbott announced a large-scale investigation into the state-independent power company, whose leadership was appointed by Abbott himself, and sought to blame the power grid failure on a supposed failure of the windmills. , which account for about 7% of power generation in Texas.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott said on Fox News.

That was a misrepresentation of the power crisis, which Abbott elsewhere admitted was caused primarily by frozen natural gas pipelines that had taken power plants out of service.

“Every source of energy that Texas has had has been compromised,” Abbott said at a news conference Wednesday.

Both the plants and pipelines are run by the state’s utility company, the Texas Electrical Reliability Council (Ercot), which was established independently of other state grids so that Texas, whose economy is based on industry from fossil fuels, not subject to federal energy regulations.

Even with the web in tatters, the fix was worth it, declared former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who served as secretary of energy under Donald Trump.

“Texans would be without power for more than three days to keep the federal government out of business,” Perry wrote in a blog post.

People wait in temperatures close to freezing to fill containers with water in Houston.
People wait in temperatures close to freezing to fill containers with water in Houston. Photograph: David J Phillip / AP

Residents may not agree. More than 130 of the state’s 254 counties were experiencing water outages or potential contamination, and more than 250,000 residents had been without water service for three days, according to state data.

Store shelves were cleaned, lines were formed at public taps in parks, firewood was hard to come by, and plumbers from other states were invited to work on an epidemic of burst pipes. Hospitals reported oxygen shortages and nursing homes and dialysis centers struggled to stay in line.

The Texas National Guard has been deployed across the state to monitor residents and transfer them to shelters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had sent blankets, supplies, generators and fuel “to ensure the continued availability of backup power,” the White House said. Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas last Sunday.

“This is turning out to be the worst statewide political disaster since the Flint water crisis,” Julián Castro told MSNBC, referring to the scandal that erupted in 2018 when it was revealed that residents of Michigan’s city of Flint were being poisoned with lead due to the authorities switched to a cheaper public water supply.

“We have state leadership: Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor [Dan] Patrick, who wants to point the finger at everything but the problem, “he added.

Ercot CEO Bill Magness asked residents for patience. “I’m sure that when we go through this, we will find things that we wish we had done better,” he said in a televised speech.

San Antonio, the second-largest city in the state, was ordered to boil water Thursday. In Houston, the largest city, the emergency was reminiscent of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the flooding that ensued.

But then, as now, with Texas paralyzed by another round of extreme weather, no Republican-elect could be heard warning that the state must take action to address the climate change emergency. Instead, they sent the opposite message.

“Bottom line: Thank goodness for grassroots energy made up of fossil fuels,” said Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas with a growing national profile, tweeted On Wednesday.

When asked at its Wednesday press conference when the electricity would be back on, Abbott said: “That is information that has not been provided to me.”

Joe Biden, the president of the United States, approved an emergency declaration for Texas earleir in the week, which gives additional powers to state officials, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is distributing emergency generators, water and food there .

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