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Texas Senator Ted Cruz was captured boarding a plane bound for Cancun on Feb. 17. Photo: Twitter user @Juan_Gomez18/Brendan Smialowski via Getty Images
Texas Senator Ted Cruz was captured boarding a plane bound for Cancun on Feb. 17. Photo: Twitter user @Juan_Gomez18/Brendan Smialowski via Getty Images

As Ted Cruz flees to Cancun, Texas Reps set about cleaning up the mess

Texas Reps and leaders condemned Cruz and amplified ways to help those in need amid the crisis.

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“I got no defense,” wrote Texas Senator Ted Cruz, one day before the world caught him departing for a trip to Cancun hours later, while millions of Texans are left to fend for themselves through one of the worst modern-day natural disasters the state has ever seen.

Indeed he does not.

People have frozen to death, price gouging is underway in some areas, and basic resources have been depleted. Some areas are still days without electricity. However Cruz fled to Mexico of all places. 

In 2015 he defended Trump’s derogatory statements towards Mexican immigrants, and he has now chosen it as his place of refuge. 

Even if Cruz had stayed, he wouldn’t have felt the brunt of the winter storm crisis. The dangerously cold weather and accompanying power outages sweeping Texas is especially dire for the state’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities, who are feeling the crisis the hardest because of limited resources or from living in food apartheid.

Since Tuesday, the Canadian-born Texas Senator had wiped his hands clean of the situation, writing the above tweet that he has no defense, and resorting to merely retweet weather updates rather than amplify the situations of the most vulnerable.

“Many vulnerable people can’t eat because they can’t get electricity or water to cook and can’t get on the roads because of the dangerous conditions. At the same time, few orgs are actually delivering food and water to people,” wrote Rep. Joaquin Castro in a Twitter thread doing just that. 

Castro compared the situation to the early days of the pandemic, when price gouging and empty shelves at grocery stores were widespread, and even the basic necessities like toilet paper had been depleted. 

At the end was a warning and a call to action.

“We need resources to get essential food and medical supplies to people who can’t get to a warming center or relative’s house. We’re headed for another deep freeze in San Antonio tonight and tomorrow - starting another potentially lethal cycle.”

Tonight, the low is expected to reach 25 degrees. For populations still without power, this spells  danger.

To combat the slow return of power, Castro led the Texas delegation in a letter to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, expressing “grave concerns” that power outages are not distributed fairly. He was joined by Reps. Sylvia Garcia, Vicente Gonzalez, Veronica Escobar, and more. 

The letter raises key points on equity, and questions why ERCOT waited until midnight on Feb. 14, to announce outages that had already been going on for hours.

As rampant as the power outages were in Texas, so were the conspiracy theories for what caused them. Texas lawmakers had to work just as fast to dissipate them, especially after the governor got involved.

Gov. Abbott made claims that have since been shut down by his own energy department, blaming clean energy policies like the yet-to-be-voted-on Green New Deal for Texas' failing energy grid. However most of the outages stemmed from a failure to winterize the power generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines. 

Texas’ independent energy system was exposed, unable to generate enough electricity to power the millions of homes on its grid.

“Unless we make our electric grid more resilient and act on climate change, families will continue to endure the burden of extreme weather.” Rep. Escobar wrote after multiple sources had already debunked Abbott’s wind turbine theory. 

Other Texas legislators highlighted that the crisis is a product of decades of neglect to the power grid under a GOP controlled Texas House of Representatives.

Texas State representative Michelle Beckley (TX-65) resurfaced a bill that was killed by her Republican predecessor, HB 2571, five years ago. “It mandated power plants maintain and PREPARE for weather like this,” Beckley wrote.

Because of the lack of major interstate transmission lines, Texas has been unable to garner power from neighboring states.

The Lone Star state is the only one not part of the nation’s two interconnections— The Eastern Interconnect and the Western Interconnect. In 1935  The Federal Power Act gave the federal government authority to regulate power companies that engaged in interstate commerce, and Texas power companies agreed not to sell power outside of the state, avoiding federal regulation.

Regulations, which as Beckley mentioned above, would help to avoid such power grid failures.

Texas uses a combination of natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wind and solar. The state produces more power than any other in the nation. But the extreme cold, and lacking regulation has gotten in the way of the systems’ recovery. 

The coal is frozen and they don't have the equipment to unfreeze the piles. Natural gas lines are unable to keep pressurized due to lack of insulation and winterization, and  Nuclear power plants face the issue of frozen cooling ponds, without heating or proper insulation. 

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro called the Texas power outage “chaos” the worst state-level policy disaster since the Flint Water crisis, and because of the urgency, he and other Texas legislators and leaders are gathering amplifying the need for resources. 

Senator Cruz is reportedly returning to Texas on Thursday, following nationwide outcry.

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