(New York Times) – As his state was racked with a huge electricity blackout crisis that left millions of people without heat in frigid temperatures, the governor of Texas took to the television airwaves to start placing blame.
His main target was renewable energy, suggesting that when wind and solar power failed, it led to a systemwide collapse.
“It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas as well as other states to make sure we will be able to heat our homes in the winter times and cool our homes in the summer times,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, speaking on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News. Other conservative talk-show hosts had already picked up the theme.
However, wind power was not chiefly to blame for the Texas blackouts. The main problem was frigid temperatures that stalled natural gas production, which is responsible for the majority of Texas’ power supply. Wind makes up just a small fraction — 7 percent or so, by some estimates — of the state’s overall mix of power generation.
As frigid weather grips the center of the nation, causing widespread power outages, freezing temperatures, slippery roads and weather-related deaths, Mr. Abbott’s voice was among the most prominent in a chorus of political figures this week to quickly assert that green energy sources such as wind and solar were contributing to the blackouts. The talking points, coming largely from conservatives, reinvigorated a long-running campaign to claim that emissions-spewing fossil fuels are too valuable a resource to give up.
The efforts came despite the fact that the burning of fossil fuels — which causes climate change by releasing vast amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere — is helping to drive the phenomenon of increasingly dangerous hurricanes and other storms, as well as unusual weather patterns.