As millions of people endured a third day without power, former Texas governor Rick Perry on Wednesday defiantly proclaimed that Texans would spend even longer in the freezing cold if it meant thwarting Democrats who want to address climate change with new regulations.
Like many other Republicans, Perry also falsely blamed frozen wind turbines for the mass outages, when a widespread failure to invest in winterizing power sources and frozen natural gas pipes played a far bigger role. As millions of Texans struggled to stay warm amid massive cold-weather power outages, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) also directed his ire at the frozen wind turbines.
“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott said to host Sean Hannity on Tuesday. “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. ... It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”
The governor’s arguments were contradicted by his own energy department, which outlined how most of Texas’s energy losses came from failures to winterize the power-generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines, The Washington Post’s Will Englund reported. But Abbott’s debunked claims were echoed by other conservatives this week who have repeatedly blamed clean energy sources for the outages crippling the southern U.S.
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
In fact, typically mild winters and a lack of state regulations in Texas combined to leave electricity providers unprepared for the extreme cold that has suddenly hit the state, The Post reported. Nearly every source of energy — from wind turbines to natural gas to nuclear power — have failed to some degree following a harsh storm that covered the region with thick layers of snow and ice.
Although renewable energy sources did partially fail, they only contributed to 13 percent of the power outages, while providing about a quarter of the state’s energy in winter. Thermal sources, including coal, gas and nuclear, lost almost twice as many gigawatts of power because of the cold, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s electric grid operator. Critics have also noted that wind turbines can operate in climates as cold as Greenland if they’re properly prepared for the weather.
Despite the much larger dip in energy from fossil fuels, Republican politicians have seized on the outages to attack the Green New Deal and Democrats’ push to address climate change by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels.
In his Fox News interview, Abbott did not address the fact that most of the state’s power comes from fossil fuels and that ERCOT had planned to produce far more power from natural gas than became available as the cold set in, contributing a stunning deficit amid the freezing weather. On Tuesday, Abbott called for a state investigation into ERCOT’s failings, saying the agency had been “anything but reliable” following the winter storm.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.
The governor was not the only prominent Texas Republican to blame clean energy for the historic power outages. After Fox News host Tucker Carlson inaccurately told viewers that the state’s power grid had become “totally reliant on windmills,” Perry joined Carlson in railing against the Green New Deal, which has not been enacted in Texas or nationally.
“If this Green New Deal goes forward the way that the Biden administration appears to want it to, then we’ll have more events like we’ve had in Texas all across the country,” Perry said in another Fox News segment.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) shared a detailed accounting on Twitter of how the state’s power grid failed, noted the roles that natural gas and nuclear power played — but also used the moment to attack wind turbines on Tuesday.
“Bottom line: Thank God for baseload energy made up of fossil fuels,” Crenshaw tweeted. “Had our grid been more reliant on the wind turbines that froze, the outages would have been much worse.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has been a strong proponent of the Green New Deal proposal, slammed Texas Republicans early Wednesday.
“The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal,” she said in a tweet.
Texas Democrats also criticized Abbott in a statement Monday, calling out Republican leaders for allowing the power to go out in the state that produces the most energy in the nation.
“If we had a governor open to alternative sources of energy, Texas might be in a situation in which we have energy reserves to efficiently power our state, instead of the reckless leadership we have witnessed time and time again from Greg Abbott,” the Texas Democrats said.
After Abbott’s Fox News interview, MSNBC host Chris Hayes challenged the competing network over its coverage of Texas’s energy crisis, playing a compilation of clips in which Fox blamed frozen wind turbines and lauded fossil fuels as the solution to the power outages.
Hayes noted that other sources of power had played a larger role in the widespread outages than renewable energy.
“It is just a lie that wind turbines, ‘green energy’ are the root causes of the problems in Texas right now,” Hayes added.