Responding to the crisis in Texas

Our energy system is more fragile than it should be, but with smart planning and decisions we can make a cleaner, safer, more resilient energy system a reality.

Clean energy

Houston blackout
The Houston Chronicle reported that 4 million customers across the state were without power on February 15, including 1.4 million in the Houston area. Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Black Marble data courtesy of Ranja

The crisis in Texas over the past week has had Americans across the nation watching in horror as a failure of the energy system left millions of Texans for days without heat in freezing temperatures. Many in the Lone Star state are still dealing with water shortages, contaminated water, and flooding from bursting pipes. 

We at Environment America have been working with our in-state affiliate, Environment Texas, to answer questions that many are having: 

Gas power plants across the state froze, taking 26,000MW, of what was billed as reliable base load power, offline. Photo credit: Entergy

Gas power plants across the state froze, taking 26,000MW, of what was billed as reliable base load power, offline. Photo credit: Entergy

The problems of the energy system aren’t confined to winter months. Where I live in New England, there was a major blackout event back in August 2003 that was caused by a combination of power lines touching trees, software problems and equipment failure. Just last year, California cut power to millions of people to prevent wildfires sparked by live power lines. Floods and hurricanes have also disrupted power supplies for many Americans in more recent memory as well.

The hard truth is that our energy system is more fragile than it should be. With climate change bringing more extreme weather, that’s likely to get worse before it gets better. As a result, our leaders and regulators must fix three crucial vulnerabilities in our current system.

As Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, put it in The Dallas Morning News:

“Simply doubling down on the same failed approaches that put the state at risk will only set us up for the next disaster. A cleaner, safer, more resilient energy system is possible. With smart planning and decisions, we can make it a reality.”

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Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Johanna directs strategy and staff for Environment America's energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. In her prior positions, she led the campaign to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which set a goal of reducing the state’s per capita electricity use by 15 percent. She also currently serves on the board of Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family, where she enjoys growing dahlias, biking and the occasional game of goaltimate. 

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