Today, the state legislature began committee hearings on the winter storm.

Not invited to provide testimony, local elected officials who have been on the frontline of response in major cities and localities are calling on the state to take responsibility for its failure in fortifying the energy infrastructure despite lessons learned from the 2011 winter storm and continuing to allow a deregulated, privatized takeover of a public utility:

Local organizers distribute food and water at Wooldridge Elementary in Austin, TX. The line of cars wrapped around the block. Photo by Greg Casar

“Our state leadership failed us last week, and continues to fail us by not accepting responsibility,” said Austin City Council Member and Local Progress Board Co-Chair Greg Casar. “We are still in a statewide disaster. Governor Abbott and our state leadership should be delivering immediate relief to our constituents that are still without water and still without food.”

“There were plenty of opportunities to prepare our energy infrastructure for what happened last week,” said Dallas City Council Member Adam Bazaldua. “Going forward, our state needs to focus on getting immediate relief to our communities now, a commitment to addressing the infrastructure needs that caused last week’s catastrophe, and a system of public accountability so our utilities serve our people, not corporate interests.”

“So far, our state officials have been more interested in using this disaster to falsely lay the blame on climate initiatives, rather than taking responsibility for helping families who are suffering,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “The truth is that this is the result of relying on a system that prioritizes profit over people. We need to center the needs of Texans, and that means both investing in climate resilience for the long term, and providing immediate relief to those impacted now.”

“This climate disaster has placed a heavy burden on local governments and the communities we serve,” said Denton City Council Member Deb Armintor. “We are already seeing people across our state receive astronomically high energy bills. Our state leadership needs to guarantee our people don’t have to pay for their mistakes, they need to cover utility payments and ensure no one profits off of this crisis.”

“We need to prepare for future climate disasters,” said DeSoto City Council Member Candice Quarles. “We urge our state leaders to use these hearings and the coming weeks to make a clear and coordinated response plan. We need to ensure when this happens again, we’ll have the support and tools from our state to respond immediately.”