“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told Fox News host Sean Hannity during an interview earlier this week.
“Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy, such as natural gas and nuclear, as well as solar and wind,” the Republican governor continued, blasting the idea of the federal government coordinating a national transition to low-carbon fuels.
Abbott faulted renewable energy sources for Texas’s “situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis”. But climate scientists and environmental policy experts say this read on current events could not be further from the truth, as a large swath of the United States copes with a massive cold snap that brought snow, ice and wind to communities unprepared for the freezing conditions.
Democrats, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the top proponents of the landmark climate resolution, clapped back against Abbott’s assessment of the situation.
Infrastructure weaknesses in the Lone Star State are “quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal,” Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter.
As millions of Americans across Texas and a dozen other states slowly find their electricity turning back on, the debate continues about how best to prevent another such disaster from affecting the electric grid so severely.
“The Green New Deal has nothing to do with our problems in Texas,” said Daniel Cohan, associate professor of engineering at Rice University. “Wind and solar power came up just a couple of gigawatts short of expectations for a peak winter day.”
He said that gas supply issues and freezing water pipes appear to be the main issue when it comes to loss of capacity at power plants, and that the recent blackouts are no excuse to question the durability of alternative energy.
Referring to the benefits of a comprehensive national energy policy, Rhodes said that the grid should be able to move bulk amounts of power from regions that have excess to regions that are in need.
The events of the past week have exposed problems with multiple sources of electricity and many types of infrastructure, including water, wastewater, transportation and industry.
John Hall, the director of regulatory and legislative affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, told Al Jazeera, “This storm has shown that our facilities are not ready for the weather we’re experiencing.”
Hall cited the need for a centralised grid with electric vehicles, battery storage and ample solar panels.
Repeating the words of his 84-year-old uncle who lives in a rural area between the cities of Houston and Austin, Hall said that having the whole state under freezing temperatures was a once-in-a-century event witnessed “never before in my life”.
“The challenge is to recognise that we’ve got to move forward by reducing greenhouse gas and methane emissions,” Hall added, before going back to the weatherisation issue. “Build it out in such a way that is resilient.”