How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal became a talking point during the Texas Freeze
“The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal,” Rep. AOC wrote.
The Green New Deal is perhaps the most iconic climate resolution Congress has ever seen, but no one expected it to make headlines during the worst winter conditions Texas has experienced in decades, dubbed the “Texas Freeze.”
Introduced by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) the proposal calls on the federal government to move the United States away from fossil fuels and lessen greenhouse gas emissions across the nation.
It also aims to guarantee new high-paying jobs in clean energy, and increase clean energy infrastructure.
The Green New Deal is nonbinding, so even if Congress approves it, nothing in the proposal would become law. Still, there’s no other initiative quite like it that would address the Climate Crisis swiftly, while addressing environmental racism, the economy, and health disparities that stem from unequal pollution exposure.
It has also seen heightened levels of opposition since its introduction in 2019.
Some deem it “too radical” or expensive, and leading Democrats, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have yet to back it.
Yet, supporters argue the damage caused by failing to respond to the climate crisis in adequate time far outweighs the potential cost of the Green New Deal, which at its core, is based on efficiency and a sight set on future prosperity.
Its prospects for passing remain low, but backers believe it has the potential to save future generations.
This is the rhetoric that resurfaced on Feb. 16, days into the Texas Freeze, after several instances of inequities and humanitarian issues had already been exposed during the abnormal weather.
On Feb. 15, more than 4 million households in the state were out of power after the weather inhibited Texas’ power grid. Later, it was revealed that wealthier neighborhoods suffered less power outages, while low-income areas experienced a lack of electricity in freezing temperatures for over 24 hours.
But in a bizarre turn of events, Gov. Greg Abbot (R-TX) directed his fervor at… wind turbines. He made the argument that frozen wind turbines — a clean energy source — are responsible for the massive cold-weather power outages.
“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott said to Fox host Sean Hannity on Feb. 16. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis... It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”
Abbot’s claims have since been shut down by his own energy department, reported the Texas Tribune, which explained how most of the outages stemmed from a failure to winterize the power generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines.
The lost wind power also doesn’t make up as much as a fraction of the affected by power outages, as Abbot suggests.
“In reality, the lost wind power makes up only a fraction of the reduction in power-generating capacity that has brought outages to millions of Texans across the state during a major winter storm,” the Tribune wrote.
Thermal sources like coal, gas and nuclear lost almost twice as many gigawatts of power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s electric grid operator.
Critics have also highlighted that, if properly maintained, wind turbines can operate in climates as cold as Greenland.
Despite the contradiction, several GOP members backed his claims, setting up a host of unfounded claims for Rep. AOC to see when she logged onto Twitter on the evening of Feb. 17.
“I go offline a few days and return to a GOP Gov blaming policies he hasn’t even implemented for his own failures. Gov. Abbott doesn’t seem to have a grasp on his state, so here’s a reminder: Texas runs 80-90% on fossil fuels. The real “deadly deal” is his failed leadership,” shewrote on Twitter, in response to Abbot’s statements made on Fox.
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.
We need to help people *now.* Long-term we must realize these are the consequences of inaction.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 17, 2021
Rep. AOC also went on to dissect how, specifically in Texas, the mass power outages are “literally” what happens when a Green New Deal isn’t pursued, suggesting that Texas’ top leaders are climate deniers, and the current crisis is a result of their inaction.
“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,” she continued.
Abbot got a lot of scientific things wrong during his Fox appearance, but at the situation’s core, the governor chose to blame a policy document, the Green New Deal, which hasn’t been passed or enacted yet, for Texas’ mass power failure, choosing to make political moves while millions of his constituents were freezing.
The GOP has controlled the Texas House of Representatives for nearly 20 years. A proposal introduced in 2019 has nothing to do with the situation, and rather a lack of maintenance of the power grid has been found to be the culprit.
“We need to help people *now.* Long-term we must realize these are the consequences of inaction,” concluded Rep. AOC.
So many Texans are in desperate conditions without heat, water, and little relief.
Gov. Abbott needs to get off TV pointing fingers & start helping people.
After that, he needs to read a book on his own state’s energy supply. I’ll be prepping TX relief emails if he needs help.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 17, 2021