The White House said on Thursday a severe winter storm engulfing Texas and nearby states was the type of extreme weather event that climate change is triggering, rejecting assertions by Texas officials that “green energy” caused widespread power outages.
The crisis in the largest U.S. oil- and gas-producing state has put Democratic President Joe Biden’s White House squarely at odds with Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who initially did not acknowledge Biden’s 2020 election win.
Abbott had ordered state officials in January to fight Biden’s push here to combat climate change by pausing new oil and gas leases, and cutting fossil fuel subsidies.
Biden spoke with Abbott late on Thursday, promising the federal government would continue to work with state and local authorities to meet the critical needs of those affected, the White House said in a statement. Biden also said he would instruct additional federal agencies to look into immediate steps that could be taken to help Texans.
But Biden’s “America last” agenda was again on full display.
After Texas Gov Abbott declared a state of emergency back on Feb 12 Biden administration ordered ERCOT to throttle energy output by forcing it to comply with environmental green energy standards, knowing full well Texans could freeze to death in their homes with zero electricity as temperatures plunged into the single digits.
Going into effect Sunday, Feb. 14, Emergency Order 202-21-1 shows the Energy Dept. was aware of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide disaster declaration and that ERCOT was readying gas utilities in preparation for a demand surge.
Here’s Abbott order:
Biden admin ordered ERCOT to throttle energy output by forcing it to comply with environmental green energy standards.
Below is the actual order from the federal Department of Energy which specifies ERCOT’s reasons for asking permission including that “…ERCOT has been alerted that numerous generation units will be unable to operate at full capacity without violating federal air quality or other permit limitations.”
Let’s explain this further. This fiasco in Texas happened due to Biden Admin environmental limits on energy production. The emergency order increases it, but:
“To minimize adverse environmental impact this order limits operation”
While Texas lost much of our renewable supply (wind and solar) their natural gas and coal are required to operate at 60% capacity to reduce emissions. They CAN operate at 100% if they get a waiver from the federal government (as Abbott requested) but Biden refused.
The order shows Acting Energy Secretary David Huizenga did not waive environmental restrictions to allow for maximum energy output, instead of ordering ERCOT to utilize all resources in order to stay within acceptable emissions standards – including purchasing energy from outside the state.
More fuel was added to this when an internet sleuth alleged on Feb 17 that Ercot’s website says they have more than enough supply power after reports of ERCOT stating that there is not enough power.
Rick Perry, the state’s former governor who served as Trump’s energy secretary, said Wednesday in a blog post sent out by U.S. House Republicans: “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.” Perry and allies say it is really Democrats who are using the crisis to promote their favored changes in energy policy.
The continental United States is divided into three grids: an eastern grid, a western grid, and the Texas grid. The Texas grid manages more than 90% of the state’s electric load.
Is it true that fear of federal regulation drove Texas to isolate its grid from the rest of the country?
But not much has been said about the role federal pollution standards have played on Texas failing to get ahead of the problem by ramping up supply.
Texas is getting a lot of grief about being a standalone system, and not running on National Standards. The usual green-deal embracing suspects are leading that charge. But national regulations are part of the reason our base-load electrical energy sources, ones that do NOT rely on the ebb and flow of sunlight and wind power, did not ramp up adequate supply.
Then why are so millions of Texans without power right now?
The answer is all-too-familiar: Texas’ relationship with the federal government.
In anticipation of this unprecedented power demand, Texas could have maxed out power generation. However, they couldn’t. Like a lowly beggar, Texas had to first ask for permission from the federal government to generate enough power to keep our people warm. Why? Because cranking up the power plants to full production might violate federal pollution limits.
Officially DOE will probably say that they sent just a warning that ERCOT does not exceed the amount of generation absolutely needed to restore power and keep Texas homes warm.” And that the allegations are unfounded.
In a Feb. 14 letter, ERCOT said that it, “understands the importance of the environmental permits that are at issue. However, in ERCOT’s judgment, the loss of power to homes and local businesses … presents a far greater risk to public health and safety than the temporary exceedances of those permit limits.”
The Biden administration may be blamed at a later date for leaving two-thirds of the state’s counties without an encompassing disaster declaration and attached aid and nothing else.
While Biden and his administration were more interested in environmental restrictions a Texas man reportedly “froze to death” in his recliner amid the freezing temperatures sweeping through the region.
The 60-year-old victim, who was not identified, was found dead in his chair on Wednesday after his home in Abilene lost power for three days, one of three people to die in that city, KTXS 12 reported.
The man’s wife, 72, was taken to the hospital.
More cases were reported An 11-year-old boy who had just seen snow for the first time died in an unheated Texas mobile home. Authorities suspect hypothermia.
An ailing 75-year-old Vietnam veteran who left his house to fetch an oxygen tank from his truck and froze to death there.
These are just a handful of the Texans who, authorities say, apparently froze to death during the devastating winter storm that has paralyzed the state, cut off heat and power to millions, and plunged a proud people into the cold of a pre-Industrial Revolution-like existence where basic necessities like food and drinkable water are now in short supply.
Fact-checkers denied these rumors as false, “This thread is false,” Michael Webber, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in energy sources, told us in an email. “DoE did not hinder Texas’ response.”
They claim that the DOE’s Huizenga signed the electric emergency order late on Feb. 14, putting it into effect through Feb. 19. The order permitted power plants to temporarily exceed certain environmental restrictions in order to reach maximum output during times of energy emergency alerts by ERCOT.
In a notice, ERCOT notified market participants of the approval. The request to DOE said that, if an electric-generating unit was unable to produce its maximum output because of an emissions restriction or “other limit in any federal environmental permit,” then the operator would be able to bypass those restrictions — but that the “incremental amount of restricted capacity would be offered at a price no lower than $1,500/MWh.”
The letter later referred to this pricing as “a separate mechanism to help ensure this capacity is deployed only when absolutely necessary.”
Webber, the professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said that cost was a “minimum price” that would ensure plants permitted to bypass environmental restrictions were not given an unfair advantage.
“Emissions controls cost money,” he said. “It would be unfair to let some power plants turn off their emissions controls, which lowers their operational costs, and then to use that lower cost to underbid other generators who responsibly left their controls in place.”
Ted Kury, director of energy studies for the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida, said “when wholesale prices get high, the market operator is actually hoping that this sends a signal to folks to stop using electricity.” That works for, say, large companies — but it often ends up being punitive for residential customers.
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