Beto O’Rourke calls Texas a ‘failed state’ as 23 left dead from winter storm

‘It has everything to do with those in positions of public trust who have failed us,’ Mr O’Rourke says while attacking Republican leadership

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Wednesday 17 February 2021 21:35

Beto O’Rourke calls Texas a “nearly failed state” following massive power outages during the winter storm

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Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat, has said Texas is "nearing a failed state” under Republican leadership after a deadly winter storm has left millions without power and at least 23 people dead.

"We are nearing a failed state in Texas and it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters," Mr O'Rourke told MSNBC on Tuesday evening. "It has everything to do with those in positions of public trust who have failed us."

He blamed Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, and other GOP leaders for focusing on "stupid culture battles" over prioritising projects like improving the power grid.

"So much of this was avoidable," Mr O'Rourke added. "Going back to the deregulation of our electric grid here in Texas, which has actually created an incentive to not weatherise or protect against these events."

He called Texas the "energy capital of North America" yet about 2.9 million residents remained without power overnight on Tuesday after the storm crippled the state's independent power grid.

The storm, which has dumped snow and ice on several states, killed at least 23 people thus far, including a grandmother and three children in Sugar Land, Texas, who died in a house fire in an attempt to keep warm.

Freezing temperatures hit the state on Monday, causing an increase in power and heat usage among residents. Texas operates on an independent electricity grid instead of being federally regulated, which means it's unable to pull electricity from other grids when there are surge demands. So the current surge instead led to millions without power and heat for extended periods of time.

The state was the only one in the continental United States to operate on an independent grid.

Mr Abbott has cast blame on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on Tuesday for the power outages that have occurred across the state.

He called ERCOT "anything but reliable the last 48 hours" and issued an executive order to review the "preparations and decisions" made by the council ahead of the winter storm.

Wind and solar power was then blamed by the governor on Tuesday night when he appeared on Fox News. Mr Abbott claimed the situation in Texas proved how the Green New Deal, a proposal pushed by Democrats to address climate change and clean energy, would be deadly to the entire country.

These claims have been pushed by other Texas Republicans in an effort to spin the current situation. Democrats, in comparison, have claimed the situation proved why a Green New Deal was necessary.

An ERCOT official said frozen wind turbines, which have occurred across the state, were the least of Texas' problems in returning power to residents, according to Bloomberg. Wind power made up less than 13 per cent of current outages, the official said.

Instead the main cause of the outages was the freezing of instruments and pipes to transport natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. The state was also experiencing a shortage in natural gas.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who previously slammed Democrats when California experienced power outages last summer, admitted on Twitter that Texas was left unprepared for the current crisis.

"I have no defense. A blizzard strikes Texas and our state shuts down. Not good," he tweeted on Tuesday.

The storm has also caused trouble in Missouri and Oklahoma with freezing temperatures. In North Carolina, a powerful tornado blew through the coast, killing three and injuring 10 residents.

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