Texas, the proud, independent Lone Star State, is suffering a humanitarian catastrophe caused by its shortsighted denial of the climate crisis and lack of federal regulation. Warming air over the Arctic is the likely reason that the polar vortex, a huge mass of cold air over the North Pole, moved south, plunging Texas and surrounding states into an unprecedented deep freeze. Millions of people have been left for days without power, water and heat, and nearly 40 people have died. A second winter storm, dubbed Viola, hit the state as it reeled from the vortex. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott falsely blamed the state’s electrical grid failure on renewable energy: “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” he told Fox News. Even Abbot’s own energy department refuted his claims.
The freezing air blanketing the region did shut down about half of Texas’ wind turbines, but still, that accounted for only 13% of the overall power loss. The larger cause of the catastrophe was frozen fossil fuel infrastructure, disabling coal, oil, fracked gas facilities and even nuclear power generation. Gov. Abbott’s lies may warm the hearts of his corporate fossil fuel donors, but they won’t help the millions of Texans struggling to survive in the freezing cold, and they won’t protect Texas from future extreme weather events that are sure to follow.