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Texas Legislative Committees Meet Thursday On Power Crisis

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Thirty-three states have created climate action plans or are in the process of revising or developing one, but Texas is not one of them. (today.tamu.edu)
Thirty-three states have created climate action plans or are in the process of revising or developing one, but Texas is not one of them. (today.tamu.edu)
 By Roz Brown, Public News Service - TX - Producer, Contact
February 24, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas - Committees in both the Texas House and Senate on Thursday will begin investigations into what caused millions of people to lose power during a crippling winter storm last week, and a state faith group is urging residents to participate.

Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact/Texas Interfaith, said those affected by the storm need to stop asking whose fault the crisis was, and start asking how to prevent such failures in the future. She said much like Hurricane Harvey, state lawmakers had plenty of warning about extreme weather events but repeatedly have rejected opportunities to prepare.

"We've had seven major disaster declarations in Texas just since Harvey," she said, "and sooner or later, faith community and other responders have to say, 'Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part.'"

Mayors in 16 Texas cities have sent a letter to the president and chief executive of the Energy Reliability Council of Texas, the state's electric-grid operator, demanding he cooperate with investigations into what left millions without power.

Moorhead said it's easy to point the finger at ERCOT, but she wants voters to contact lawmakers with concerns, since they're the ones who approved the policies that left homes and businesses vulnerable to the catastrophe. She said Texans of faith have been extremely generous in providing funds to their congregations during the pandemic, but many are still helping with the cleanup from Hurricane Harvey - in the same communities, hit again by the winter storm.

"What happened in Texas last week is a systems problem, and it needs a systems solution," she said. "Faith communities can be depended on for charity, but it takes government to reform major systems."

Communities and family members of people who died in the outages already have filed lawsuits against ERCOT. Only invited testimony will be allowed at Thursday's hearings, which begin at 9 a.m., but Texans will be allowed to submit written comments to the House electronically through a portal during the meeting. As of Tuesday, the Senate had not provided information on how to participate.

Disclosure: Texas Impact contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Climate Change/Air Quality, Immigrant Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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