Texas Senator Ted Cruz just bailed on the state and headed for Mexico, in the midst of a tremendous crisis.
Texas has been through a real ordeal over the past week. Weather turned especially bad six days ago, worsened through the weekend, and a combination of outsized snowfall and single digit temperatures spiked demand for electricity at a time when coal, natural gas, and wind power production all dropped precipitously.
People in the Northeast, the Upper Midwest, and other cold weather regions of the country don’t understand how low temperatures and snowfall could bring down the state. But homes aren’t built for such cold temperatures, they’re built to stay cool during the scorching summer.
Texas is on its own power grid, but the Eastern US grid hasn’t had power to spare. There aren’t long-term contracts either with producers required to deliver power. There are market structure issues, which work well almost all of the time. A decade ago after lesser blackouts recommendations for winterizing were put together but not fully implemented. Due to Covid-19 the grid operator didn’t inspect power plants for winter readiness, either.
Freezing temperatures and lack of power have now spilled over into lack of water. I’ve got no water right now (fortunately I stocked up at the start of the pandemic).
There’s not a ton that Texas Senator Ted Cruz can do to fix the problem now but it’s not a good look, bailing on Texas for a United flight out of Houston to Cancun, heading towards warmth while state utilities melt down.
Re: the Ted Cruz/Cancun thing, this is the photo that unlocks the whole thing. He's in a United terminal. In the top left you can that it's 4:10 pm (or 4ish PM at least). To the left of that, you can see that he's near gate E11, with its destination being Ft. Lauderdale. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/hUuUqSNBze
— Nesler (@thatnesler) February 18, 2021
Just confirmed @SenTedCruz and his family flew to Cancun tonight for a few days at a resort they've visited before. Cruz seems to believe there isn't much for him to do in Texas for the millions of fellow Texans who remain without electricity/water and are literally freezing. pic.twitter.com/6nPiVWtdxe
— David Shuster (@DavidShuster) February 18, 2021
Cruz wasn’t in Washington, DC. He was in Texas, and he left during the crisis. It’s not as though a federal politician would make a difference here. FEMA is delivering blankets, but when roads are impassable how do many people even get those?
Politicians are mostly blaming each other. The Governor Abbott blames local utility providers, though of course the state’s public utility commission regulates them. Beto O’Rourke, preparing a run for governor, blames Abbott.
Austin’s Mayor did a Facebook live telling everyone to drop their thermostats and turn off lights while wearing a light shirt and with accent lighting behind him. (He told people not to travel for the holidays in a Facebook Live filmed from a timeshare in Cabo.)
Gradually power is being restored to the state’s grid, but it will take warmer weather to lessen power demand, melt ice on roads, and ease repairs to burst water mains and restore power to water pumping stations that have gone dark.
What do you think of Ted Cruz leaving his home state in the midst of the crisis? Perhaps there’s nothing he could do anyway and his priority should be his family, in which case it’s fine. Or maybe you think he should show leadership spend time with his constituents who are suffering?