Mon, 08 Mar 2021

By Jessica Corbett

While Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is under fire for fleeing to Cancún for a vacation as his constituents endure devastating power outages as well as food and water shortages due to rare winter weather, climate campaigners are pointing to the compounding crises in the Lone Star state as proof of the need for a Green New Deal.

As dozens of people have died and millions have spent days without electricity, some right-wing news outlets and lawmakers-including GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who's facing calls to step down-have lied about the state's power problems, blaming renewable energy, even though the outages are largely tied to issues with gas, coal, and nuclear facilities. Abbott even claimed Tuesday on that "this shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America."

The Green New Deal resolution introduced in 2019 by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) calls for creating millions of jobs by transitioning to a 100% renewable energy system and launching a "national mobilization" to build "resiliency against climate change-related disasters." Although the measure has yet to be passed by Congress, Greenpeace USA and the Sunrise Movement argue that the current conditions in Texas-which scientists link to the climate crisis-bolster the case for it.

"Many people across the country are realizing for the first time that fossil fuels are not only polluting, they are unstable. Millions of Texans are being let down by coal, oil, and gas right now," Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Ashley Thomson said Thursday. "Our greatest concern is for the communities facing record cold temperatures, power outages, and uncertainty."

Not only is Texas still largely dependent on fossil fuels, but much of the state has its own power grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), as Texan Samantha Grasso explained at earlier this week, "was borne out of Texas' brainless reflex to buck federal regulation."

That move may now be part of the problem. As noted, "Electricity market incentives are currently structured in such a way that Texas' power companies receive more money if they don't weatherize all their plants and shut down some of them during cold weather."

As power slowly returned to homes and businesses in the southern state, Thomson declared that "in Texas and around the country, we deserve a world beyond fossil fuels."

In addition to highlighting the Green New Deal, Thomson pointed to the THRIVE Agenda unveiled in September by a coalition of labor unions, advocacy groups, and Democratic members of Congress. The related resolution lays out an equitable and green economic recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Thomson's comments came after the Sunrise Movement on Wednesday joined calls for Abbott's resignation and reiterated the group's demand for a Green New Deal.

As Republicans this week have attacked not only the Green New Deal but also Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman-known to many fans and foes as "AOC"-has called out Abbott, , and others while continuing to push for the renewable energy and jobs proposal that has boosted her national profile.

In a campaign email to raise money for local relief organizations on Thursday, "Team AOC" responded to the Texas governor's lies:

As climate campaigners and the congresswoman doubled down on their support for the Green New Deal, frontline organizations issued a demand for a just recovery-"an all-encompassing, community-based, solutions-oriented approach putting community needs and equity above profit in these times of climate chaos."

The statement featured specific recommendations for organizers and organizations as well as foundations and philanthropists along with local, state, and federal officials.

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