Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Why did the cold snap in Texas turn into a humanitarian crisis?


After a week of arctic blizzard, temperatures are rising in Texas. According to the New York Times, this cold snap killed at least 58 people. President Joe Biden, who activated the federal emergency management agency and dispatched generators and fuel to Texas, is expected within the week.

“They got caught with the pants on their ankles”. This is how Congress Representative Ron Reynolds summed up the situation with Texas energy suppliers.

It should be realized that in this state placed on the same latitude as North Africa, the average temperature in February is 15 degrees. But with this blizzard, Texas got colder than Alsaka. Up to a historic record of minus 18 degrees.

At this temperature the oil and gas wells froze. The same goes for pipelines. Nuclear and coal plants did not hold up. And the blades of the wind turbines, which represent 20% of production, also froze.

Result? More than four million homes without electricity for more than two days. So in order not to freeze to death, the Texans have experienced the return to the age of fire. By heating in the gas stove, the oven, or quite simply a brazier. Even if it means risking carbon monoxide poisoning.

And as if that were not enough, some residents saw their water pipes explode. So to fill their flush, some have had the good idea of ​​melting snow. But to get a real container of water, no other choice but to queue for two hours in minus15 degrees.

Finally, with the drop in electricity production, water treatment could not be provided correctly. And it is always advisable in the cities of Austin or Houston to boil it before consuming it.

Electricity price explosion

But the blizzard did not stop at the borders of Texas so why is this state doing worse than its neighbors? First, because Texas is the only state to have its own energy network, when all the others are connected to one of the two federal networks, that of the west coast or that of the east coast. So they couldn’t ask their neighbors for help.

Normally, Texas does not need it because it is the largest producer of natural gas and oil in the country. But also a heavyweight in wind and solar power.

But the reason is above all that by being autonomous, they are exempted from applying federal regulations which impose in particular the preparation of electrical installations for very harsh winter temperatures.

In 2011, the last time a cold snap caused production to drop, the Texas electricity company asked energy suppliers to take measures to isolate generators or pipelines, for example, without having the means to protect them. apply.

The energy market in Texas is one of the most deregulated in the United States, with around 100 energy suppliers. And the Texans who were lucky enough to have electricity at the height of the crisis will pay for it at a high price. The kilowatt-hour rate varies depending on demand. And it climbed some 10,000% in a matter of days, from $ 30 to over $ 9,000. But in these times of crisis Griddy, one such supplier, has been sympathetic in telling his customers that paying those thousands of dollars in bills could stretch over months.

Senator Ted Cruz in the storm

And while Texas grappled with this natural disaster, Republican Senator Ted Cruz came under fire for going on vacation to Cancun. The one Donald Trump had nicknamed “Lying Ted”, Ted the liar has been renamed “Flying Ted”, the one who overlooks the problems of his constituents.

Faced with the controversy, he only stayed one night there, not even time to get sunburned. But the “Cancun Gate” affair risks leaving its mark. On Wednesday, Mr. and Mrs. Cruz are photographed at the airport, towards the Carlton in Cancun. Immediately, the photo sets social media on fire. So when he arrived, the Republican senator saw fit to blame these two girls.

“As schools are suspended, my daughters asked me to go on a trip with friends and as a good father, I went with them,” he explains.

Suffice to say that his excuse did not really calm the spirits. And a reporter from Houston added a layer of it. He went to Ted Cruz’s home and noticed that there was no power left in the neighborhood. When taking a photo, he notices through the glass door, the Cruz family dog ​​left in this house without electricity.

The senator thus became the traitor who abandoned 28 million Texans and his own dog to their fate. For the record, the animal bears the sweet name of “Snowflake” or “snowflake” in English.





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