Politics and false state pride caused the worst disaster in Texas history (Part II)

by Gus Mercado

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott with another Texas official. | Screengrabbed by G. Mercado

Gus Mercado

Some years ago, when the Federal energy officials warned Texas to winterize its electricity grid to prevent freezing, Governor Greg Abbott and the ERCOT managers ignored the warning. “It never gets that cold in Texas,” said Abbott defiantly.

And while people suffered and froze last week, former governor Rick Perry arrogantly said: “The people of Texas would prefer to not have power and water for several days than to accept Federal regulations.” False state pride! Speak for yourselves, governors. Tell that to people whose parents or young children froze to death. Tell that to families whose houses flooded or burned to the ground when the firefighters could not get water from anywhere. And to add insult to injury, just today, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick blamed the consumers who complained of $7,000 to $10,000 electricity bills this way: “That’s the price the people pay for gambling on the state’s low power rates, they failed to read the fine print.” It is the same Dan Patrick who had suggested in the early days of the pandemic that elderly Texans sacrifice themselves to Coronavirus for the sake of the economy. Unbelievable! These are the people that you voted to office, folks. If they are to blame, the ultimate blame points in your direction.

“Abbott’s feeble attempts to blame clean energy sources for the outages contradicted his own Energy Department, who said it was the 180 gas-fueled, non-winterized power generators that failed to handle the blizzard. The wind turbine-powered sector of the grid is a tiny, almost inconsequential contributor to the main grid.”

And while the people suffered, the unscrupulous politicians resorted to blaming the game instead of coming up with solutions. Governor Abbott and Fox News were quick to blame the Democrats’ alternative energy sources (wind, solar, and water) and “the Democrats’ plans to eliminate fossil fuel (coal and oil) altogether,” which is decades away if it ever comes to fruition. Texas, traditionally, is mainly fossil-fuel dependent and will be for a long time.

Abbott’s feeble attempts to blame clean energy sources for the outages contradicted his own Energy Department, who said it was the 180 gas-fueled, non-winterized power generators that failed to handle the blizzard. The wind turbine-powered sector of the grid is a tiny, almost inconsequential contributor to the main grid. And it is not true that renewable energy will not work in Texas. It is, in fact, solar and wind turbine-harvested energy that is saving the northwestern states and Canada’s power grid from freezing up. Their systems have never failed.

Democrat leaders Beto O’Rourke and Joaquin Castro promptly rebuked the governor and placed “100% of the blame on him and other Republican officials for sheer negligence, incompetence, and unpreparedness”. Texas has been under Republican control for decades. As it turned out, the state’s unique Power Grid was woefully inadequate, resulting in their massive generators’ serial failures last week. The natural gas plants were frozen. Gov. Abbott’s knee-jerk reaction was to fire the ERCOT executives and order an investigation but had no immediate concrete solutions to offer except to wait for the cold weather to turn around. US Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said he had no defense and, instead of using his authority and position to assist the victims, decided to flee to warm Cancun with his family.

“Sadly, this happens when national crises and emergencies are politicized by self-absorbed politicians and proud states decide to act independently at their peril. The people suffer.”

Instinctively, the Biden administration quickly declared a significant emergency in Texas, expedited access to Federal funds, and instructed FEMA to distribute generators and provide assistance, including food and supplies to endangered families. Last Friday, the president visited Texas to assess the storm’s damage and see vaccination centers and the Houston Food Bank, the biggest in the country. Other states also reached out with whatever relief they could gather for the suffering people in Texas. The much-maligned NY congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez raised millions of dollars and personally delivered badly-needed goods to the victims. Beto O-Rourke and his army of phone bankers called more than 200,000 senior citizens, and his volunteers provided whatever the old folks needed.

Sadly, this happens when national crises and emergencies are politicized by self-absorbed politicians and proud states decide to act independently at their peril. The people suffer.


About the Author: Gus Mercado is a 40-year resident of Texas and a well-known Fil-Am business and civic leader in Dallas, Texas. He founded the popular Filipino Leaders Coalition of North Texas (FILCON). He is a recipient of the Presidential BANAAG award for outstanding community service. Reactions to this article may be sent to gusmercadotx@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Philippine Daily Mirror. We reserve the right to exclude comments submitted in response to this article, which is inconsistent with our editorial standards.

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