February 17, 2021

“This is what happens when the state gives up its responsibility to corporations — and without care or accountability to the communities most impacted.”

TEXAS — Millions of Texans continue to be without power as record-breaking snow and freezing temperatures batter the state. In response, local elected officials are calling for state action and longer-term investigations into the deregulation of energy infrastructure that has left communities without power and resources during both this emergency amid an on-going pandemic:

“After nearly a year of grappling with the concurrent crises, Texans are now being forced to deal with yet another unprecedented situation — one that we could have been better prepared for if we had invested in the infrastructure our communities need instead of privatizing a public utility for corporate interests,” said San Antonio City Councilmember Roberto Treviño. “Why is it that city skyscrapers and empty office buildings have power but health departments have to scramble to administer vaccine doses as storage facilities go without? And why has the state now allowed ERCOT to price gouge Texans in the midst of an emergency? We need answers and an overhaul of this system entirely.”

“What we’ve seen in the past few days is a failed response from our state, with little to no coordination with local governments who have taken on the role of first responders,” said Dallas City Councilmember Adam Bazaldua. “Over the next weeks, we will be asking a lot of questions and seeking cooperation from our state leadership as we hope to see a full investigation of what happened. What we know already is that when we deregulate vital resources like our energy, we lose any transparency and accountability to the people they serve. We aren’t surprised that a state that refuses to invest in healthcare and workers would create a flawed energy infrastructure.”

“Across our state, far too many individuals, many of them elderly, sick, or houseless, are suffering through dangerously low temperatures and lack of power. Our focus right now should be meeting the immediate needs of the most vulnerable to ensure they can make it through this winter storm,” said Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “But the circumstances that caused this situation go far beyond the weather—we need a full investigation into what led to this crisis, and make the necessary changes so this does not happen again. In a state with such abundant wealth and resources, every Texan deserves and should have access to decent shelter and their basic needs met.”

“This is what happens when the state gives up its responsibility to corporations — and without care or accountability to the communities most impacted,” said DeSoto City Councilmember Candice Quarles. “Make no mistake, we want and need a fully functioning state that works with local governments and ensures there is cooperation in moments like this. Local governments need more local control and are ready to be in coordination with our state counterparts to ensure working class people have everything they need to get through these tough times and thrive long after them.”

“The majority of my district is without power, along with huge parts of the city and state. This is beyond unacceptable,” said Austin City Council Member and Local Progress Co-Chair Greg Casar. “The state’s emergency response has been insufficient, communications at all levels has been deficient, and the statewide power grid was woefully underprepared for this weather. On the other side of this storm, we must ask hard questions about what got us here, locally and statewide, and hold people accountable. 

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