Top Democrats are zeroing in on the recent winter storm devastation in Texas, calling for investigations into Republicans’ handling of the crisis and amplifying their support for radical environmental policies like the Green New Deal.
“Governor Abbott thought Texas could run an electrical grid that ignored the climate crisis,” Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted. “It was not resilient.”
Schumer went on to call for a federal investigation to look into how the Republican governor’s policies “have failed and exacerbated the winter storm crisis.”
The Lone Star State was ravaged by a historic winter storm that has left millions without power after significant power outages. The Associated Press reports that the storm and resultant power outages have contributed to the deaths of at least 80 people.
President Biden recently approved a major disaster declaration, allowing more federal aid to pour into the state as it struggles to get back on its feet from the crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has delivered more than 1 million meals to Texas and the Defense Department has delivered more than 4 million liters of water.
Former Senate candidate Beto O’Rouke pointed the blame at Republicans, saying “those in power have failed us.”
“As with Covid, a natural disaster has become far deadlier due to the inaction & ineptitude of Abbott and Texas’ Republican leadership,” he tweeted. “This didn’t have to happen and doesn’t have to continue.”
The storm has also led to renewed debates about energy and climate – with Democrats seeking to claim that the power outages could have been avoided with greater reliance on renewable sources.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week that the Democratic-controlled Energy and Commerce Committee will be investigating, and specifically taking “a look into it to see how things could have turned out better and will turn out better in the future.”
Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the committee would “investigate the Texas crisis further and we’ll see what other action we have to take.”
“Ultimately, this episode underscores the importance of prioritizing clean and resilient energy infrastructure,” he said, according to The Hill.
Abbott appeared to preempt Democratic calls for new energy sources when he told Fox News that renewable sources had failed in the state as well. He specifically referenced the Green New Deal – a radical package of environmental policies designed to overhaul America’s energy policies and economic system.
Abbott told Fox’s Sean Hannity that “this shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.”
“Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy, such as natural gas and oil and nuclear – as well as solar and wind,” he said. “But you saw … our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid.”
He said it shows that fossil fuels are necessary “for the state of Texas as well as other states to make sure we are able to heat our homes in the wintertime and cool our homes in the summertime.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, who has raised millions for relief efforts in Houston and who is also a promoter of the controversial Green New Deal, has countered by saying the crisis was proof of the need for such a proposal.
“The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal,” she tweeted. “Weak on sweeping next-gen public infrastructure investments, little focus on equity so communities are left behind, climate deniers in leadership so they don’t long prep for disaster.”
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is also a top voice in promoting the Deal, echoed the sentiments.
“The climate disaster in Texas has left millions without power, roads frozen with black ice, and families facing deadly cold in their homes,” he said, according to MassLive. “This is what the future holds for our planet unless political leaders have the courage and conviction to be bold and fight for a Green New Deal.”
Meanwhile, a number of Democrats have been weighing in on the controversy facing both Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who took heat for leaving the state to Utah and Cancun, respectively, amid the storm.
The Texas Democratic Party contrasted its own relief efforts with those of Republican leaders.
“Democrats are providing the bulk of volunteer relief aid to Texas households impacted by boil water notices/water shortages and/or those suffering from food insecurity as a result of the deadly winter storm that knocked out power and water for millions of Texans,” the state party said in a statement. “Meanwhile, Texas Republicans abdicated their duties and either fled responsibility or fled the state physically.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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