Texas Republicans’ cruel remarks about California come back to haunt them as winter storms ravage

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The state of Texas has been slammed by a series of widespread power outages that are affecting millions and fueling demands for an explanation and political accountability. Several people have already lost their lives as unprecedented winter storms cover the ground in ice and snow.

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It appears that the electrical dearth is due to an increase in demand for heating as the state experiences some of its coldest temperatures in decades combined with a sudden decrease in supply as energy sources have become temporarily impeded by the weather. Gas pipelines that usually feed power plants have apparently frozen in places, choking off the flow of fuel.

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Since it’s Texas, one also must factor in the virulent anti-regulation sentiment that animates much of the interactions between the state government and private interests as well as the aggressively pro-capitalist tendencies that often prioritize profit over people. Texas has its own discrete power grid in the first place in large part as a way to remain independent from the federal government — a slightly sinister setup when one considers the secessionist currents that often course through Texas politics.

Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston’s Department of Economics, spoke to The Houston Chronicle and blamed the blackouts on deregulation.

“The [Electric Reliability Council of Texas] grid has collapsed in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet Union. It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances,” said Hirs.

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“For more than a decade, generators have not been able to charge what it costs them to produce electricity. If you don’t make a return on your money, how can you keep it up? It’s like not taking care of your car. If you don’t change the oil and tires, you can’t expect your car to be ready to evacuate, let alone get you to work,” he went on.

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Regardless of where the blame ultimately lands here, this crisis could have been avoided if the government ran and maintained a robust, modern energy infrastructure with enough funding to avoid situations like the one currently unfolding. Of course, Republicans are unlikely to admit that these power outages are even tangentially related to an overreliance on private companies because that doesn’t fit into their ideological framework.

Unfortunately for Texas Republicans, the outages have caused numerous tweets to resurface from the past few years showing them chomping at the bit to blame California energy shortages on Democratic officials. If the California problems can be laid squarely at the feet of the Democrats who run the Golden State then the same can certainly be said for the Republicans who run Texas. In both cases, we must demand more from our elected officials. American infrastructure is crumbling in every state and we must demand that our leaders devote the proper time and funding to repair the damage before more lives are lost.

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