As Greg Abbott Blames Texas Chaos on Green Energy, Chuck Schumer Wants His Policies Probed

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on two energy regulation bodies to probe Texas Governor Greg Abbott's policies after a winter storm led to devastating power blackouts in the state, which the governor has blamed on green energy.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) last week announced a "joint inquiry into the operations of the bulk-power system" during "extreme winter weather conditions" experienced by midwestern and south-central U.S. states.

"Governor Abbott thought Texas could run an electrical grid that ignored the climate crisis," Schumer tweeted on Sunday. "It was not resilient."

"The federal investigation by @FERC and @NERC_Official must look into how Governor Abbott's policies in Texas have failed and exacerbated the winter storm crisis," he continued.

On Thursday, FERC said it has remained in contact with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Southwest Power Pool, and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.

FERC Chairman Richard Glick said in a statement that the prolonged loss of power during extreme cold weather constituted a "humanitarian crisis."

"This is simply unacceptable," Glick said. "The short-term focus must be on restoring power to the grid. But we also have a responsibility to ensure this does not happen again."

Although Texas mostly relies on natural gas for electricity—which was also affected by the extreme weather—the state's GOP officials have blamed the power outages on green energy, mostly fixating on wind turbines that froze in the unprecedentedly cold temperatures.

Abbott has claimed wind and solar power failures "thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis," adding the Green New Deal would be a "deadly deal" for the U.S.

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick has reiterated the claims, saying Texas "cannot go down this road" of green energy and that fossil fuels, coal and nuclear energy are "what this country and this state needs."

Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw claimed Texas' outages "would have been much worse" if the state's power grid had been "more reliant on the wind turbines that froze."

ERCOT, which operates most of Texas' power grid, found the blackouts to have originated from the state's reliance on natural gas.

Abbott also called for a probe into ERCOT, saying it was "anything but reliable," and urged its leadership to resign. Patrick mused that it may be time to "get rid of ERCOT altogether and start with a new form."

Millions of Texans grappled with widespread blackouts last week after a storm swept through the southern U.S.

The rolling outages in record-low temperatures have left people struggling to keep warm. The Washington Post found at least 32 people have died in Texas following the storm.

Last week, an 11-year-old boy died of suspected hypothermia in the city of Conroe. A Houston woman and child died of carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running for heat. In Sugar Land, three children and their grandmother died in a house fire after reportedly trying to keep warm.

Newsweek has asked Abbott's office for comment.

The infographic below, provided by Statista, breaks down Texas' sources of energy by fuel type.

Texas electricity generation - Statista
Statista
Greg Abbott speaks at Austin press conference
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol on May 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. After a winter storm left millions of Texans without power, Abbott has blamed the blackouts on green energy. Lynda M. Gonzalez/Getty Images