‘It could happen again’: Journalist explains why Texas is woefully unprepared for another severe Arctic blast
Eleven months have passed since Texas suffered a cold snap that inflicted freezing temperatures and widespread blackouts and caused some Texans to literally freeze to death in their homes. Looking back on that tragedy in a recent article for the Texas Monthly, journalist Russell Gold has a warning: “It could happen again” — and the next time, the suffering could be even worse.
During the Texas freeze of February 2021, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson wrongly blamed green energy for the blackouts — saying, “It seems pretty clear that a reckless reliance on windmills is the cause of this disaster.” But that claim was total nonsense, as Texas gets the vast majority of its energy from fossil fuels, not green energy. Moreover, green energy is quite efficient in Sweden, Denmark and other countries in Northern Europe that are known for cold, snowy winters.
In February 2021, the problem with Texas’ energy grid was that it hadn’t been properly winterized.
“Unlike most other states that safely endured the February 2021 storm, Texas had stubbornly declined to require winterization of its power plants and, just as critically, its natural gas facilities,” Gold explains. “In large part, that’s because the state’s politicians and the regulators they appoint are often captive to the oil and gas industry, which lavishes them with millions of dollars a year in campaign contributions. During the February freeze, the gas industry failed to deliver critically needed fuel, and while Texans of all stripes suffered, the gas industry scored windfall profits of about $11 billion — creating debts that residents and businesses will pay for at least the next decade.”
Last year, the Texas grid came within a couple minutes of collapsing & leaving the state without power for weeks. \n\nWhat I learned about what happened - and if it could happen again. #TexasBlackouthttps://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/texas-electric-grid-failure-warm-up/\u00a0\u2026— Russell Gold (@Russell Gold) 1642519781
Almost a year after the Texas tragedy, Gold laments, the Lone Star State is still woefully unprepared for a cold snap.
“Since last February, the state has appointed new regulators and tweaked some of its statutes,” Gold observes. “But despite the misery, death, economic disruption, and embarrassment that Texas suffered, little has changed. The state remains susceptible to the threat that another winter storm could inflict blackouts as bad as — or even worse than — last year’s catastrophe. Despite promises from public officials to rectify these problems, we remain largely defenseless and can only hope we aren’t thrashed by another Arctic blast.”
As bad as the Texas blackouts of February 2021 were, Gold emphasizes, they could have been even worse. Texans, according to Gold, were spared a “total shutdown.”
“To understand the danger,” Gold writes, “it’s worth examining how close the Texas grid came last year to a meltdown that could have left much of the state without power for several weeks, or even months…. It is hard to fathom the devastation a total shutdown would have wreaked…. Most of the state’s residents would have been without heat, potable water or light, as would almost all of the businesses on which they depend.”
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