- Some Republicans have blamed the Green New Deal climate proposal for power outages currently plaguing millions of Texans amid record-setting low temperatures.
- Their statements are factually inaccurate since the Green New Deal does not exist as an active policy anywhere in the United States.
- While wind turbines in the state have frozen to a standstill, critics have argued this is because Texas did not adequately prepare its renewable energy sources for extreme temperatures.
- Texas predominantly relies on nonrenewable energy like natural gas, which critics also say failed because of the state’s lack of preparedness for such temperatures.
Wind Turbines Blamed for Power Outages
About 3.3 million Texans were out of power Wednesday morning as they continue to grapple with intense winter temperatures. Some have been without power for days on end, prompting widespread questions about who exactly is to blame.
While the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is receiving the brunt of the blame, criticism has also been lodged against renewable energy sources by a number of fossil fuel groups and Republicans.
In a lengthy Twitter thread on Tuesday, U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Tx.) said, “West Texas, where most of the wind energy is focused, had wind turbines that had to be de-iced. The little energy that power regulators planned on wind to supply was now gone.”
“This is what happens when you force the grid to rely in part on wind as a power source. When weather conditions get bad as they did this week, intermittent renewable energy like wind isn’t there when you need it.”
It is true that a number of wind turbines in the state have frozen amid record-setting low temperatures; however, that is largely because the state never designed those turbines to be able to withstand such extreme temperatures. Northern countries like that of Greenland, for example, are able to keep their turbines spinning throughout the winter months because they have mechanisms in place to account for the cold.
Republicans Blame a Nonexistent Green New Deal
Related to frozen turbines, many Republicans, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have used the situation in the state to lay blame on the Green New Deal climate proposal — even though it doesn’t actually exist as policy anywhere in the United States.
“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott said Tuesday to Fox News host Sean Hannity. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power in a statewide basis… It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”
Fox News host Tucker Carlson also said, “Unbeknownst to most people, the Green New Deal came to Texas. The power grid in the state became totally reliant on windmills. Then it got cold and the windmills broke cause that’s what happens in the Green New Deal.”
In reality, power in the state is dominated by natural gas, a form of nonrenewable energy. According to The Washington Post, “shutdowns of thermal power plants, primarily those relying on natural gas, dwarfed the dent caused by frozen wind turbines, by a factor of five or six.”
As The Post explained, amid single-digit temperatures, pipes froze because of moisture in the gas.
Rather than a problem caused primarily by renewable energy, the situation in Texas seems to be a result of the state’s lack of preparedness.
For example, Texas usually only has mild winters. There’s also a heavy lack of state regulations around Texas’ energy sources, as ERCOT is Texas’ independent power grid. As a result of being completely internal to Texas, the state is able to avoid oversight by federal regulators.
While many have used the word “unprecedented” to describe the storm battering Texas, the state has faced multiple outages because of snowstorms in the last two decades.
In fact, following another severe cold in 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. found that “the massive amount of generator failures that were experienced raises the question whether it would have been helpful to increase reserve levels going into the event.”
“This action would have brought more units online earlier, might have prevented some of the freezing problems the generators experienced, and could have exposed operational problems in time to implement corrections before the units were needed to meet customer demand.”
Democrats Denounce Green New Deal Criticism
Following Abbott’s comments concerning the Green New Deal, Texas Democrats rebuked his words in a joint statement.
“If we had a governor open to alternative sources of energy,” the party said, “Texas might be in a situation in which we have energy reserves to efficiently power our state, instead of the reckless leadership we have witnessed time and time again from Greg Abbott.”
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY.), who has sponsored the climate proposal, argued that “the infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal.”
“Weak on sweeping next-gen public infrastructure investments, little focus on equity so communities are left behind, climate deniers in leadership so they don’t long prep for disaster. We need to help people *now.* Long-term we must realize these are the consequences of inaction.”
Nonetheless, false rumors related to renewable energy and the Green New Deal have continued to circulate online. For example, one photo of a helicopter reportedly spraying chemicals on a turbine in Texas has gone viral; however, that photo was actually was taken years ago in Sweden and the helicopter in it is spraying hot water.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Business Insider) (Dallas News)
Churches Protected Loophole in Abuse Reporting for 20 years, Report Finds
In some cases, Clergy members failed to report abuse among their congregation, but state laws protected them from that responsibility.
A Nationwide Campaign to Hide Abuse
More than 130 bills seeking to create or amend child sexual abuse reporting laws have been neutered or killed due to religious opposition over the past two decades, according to a review by the Associated Press.
Many states have laws requiring professionals such as physicians, teachers, and psychotherapists to report any information pertaining to alleged child sexual abuse to authorities. In 33 states, however, clergy are exempt from those requirements if they deem the information privileged.
All of the reform bills reviewed either targeted this loophole and failed or amended the mandatory reporting statute without touching the loophole.
“The Roman Catholic Church has used its well-funded lobbying infrastructure and deep influence among lawmakers in some states to protect the privilege,” the AP stated. “Influential members of the Mormon church and Jehovah’s witnesses have also worked in statehouses and courts to preserve it in areas where their membership is high.”
“This loophole has resulted in an unknown number of predators being allowed to continue abusing children for years despite having confessed the behavior to religious officials,” the report continued.
“They believe they’re on a divine mission that justifies keeping the name and the reputation of their institution pristine,” David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told the outlet. “So the leadership has a strong disincentive to involve the authorities, police or child protection people.”
Abuses Go Unreported
Last month, another AP investigation discovered that a Mormon bishop acting under the direction of church leaders in Arizona failed to report a church member who had confessed to sexually abusing his five-year-old daughter.
Merrill Nelson, a church lawyer and Republican lawmaker in Utah, reportedly advised the bishop against making the report because of Arizona’s clergy loophole, effectively allowing the father to allegedly rape and abuse three of his children for years.
Democratic State Sen. Victoria Steele proposed three bills in response to the case to close the loophole but told the AP that key Mormon legislators thwarted her efforts.
In Montana, a woman who was abused by a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses won a $35 million jury verdict against the church because it failed to report her abuse, but in 2020 the state supreme court reversed the judgment, citing the state’s reporting exemption for clergy.
In 2013, a former Idaho police officer turned himself in for abusing children after having told 15 members of the Mormon church, but prosecutors declined to charge the institution for not reporting him because it was protected under the clergy loophole.
The Mormon church said in a written statement to the AP that a member who confesses child sex abuse “has come seeking an opportunity to reconcile with God and to seek forgiveness for their actions. … That confession is considered sacred, and in most states, is regarded as a protected religious conversation owned by the confessor.”
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Deseret) (Standard Examiner)
Texas AG Ken Paxton Allegedly Flees Official Serving Subpoenas in Truck
Following the news, a judge granted the attorney general’s request to quash the subpoenas.
Paxton on the Run
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his own home in a truck Monday morning to evade an official trying to serve him a subpoena, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
Last month, several nonprofits filed a lawsuit seeking to block Texas from charging individuals under the state’s abortion ban in cases that happened out of state or prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Two subpoenas were issued summoning Paxton to a Tuesday court hearing, one for his professional title and the other addressed to him personally.
Early on Monday Ernesto Martin Herrera, a process server, knocked on the front door of Paxton’s home in McKinney and was greeted by Texas state senator Angela Paxton, who is the Attorney General’s wife.
According to the affidavit, Herrera identified himself and informed her that he was delivering court documents to Mr. Paxton. She responded that her husband was on the phone and in a hurry to leave, so Herrera returned to his vehicle and waited for Ken to emerge.
Nearly an hour later, the affidavit states, a black Chevrolet Tahoe pulled into the driveway, and 20 minutes after that, the attorney general stepped out.
“I walked up the driveway approaching Mr. Paxton and called him by his name,” Herrera wrote in the affidavit. “As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage.”
Shortly afterward, Angela exited the house and climbed into a truck in the driveway, leaving a rear driver-side door open.
“A few minutes later I saw Mr. Paxton RAN from the door inside the garage towards the rear door behind the driver side,” Herrera wrote. “I approached the truck, and loudly called him by his name and stated that I had court documents for him.”
“Mr. Paxton ignored me and kept heading for the truck,” he continued.
The affidavit adds that Herrera placed the documents on the ground by the vehicle and stated that he was serving a subpoena, but the Paxtons drove away.
Process Server or Lingering Stranger?
Following the publication of the affidavit in The Texas Tribune, Ken attacked the news outlet on Twitter and claimed to fear for his safety.
“This is a ridiculous waste of time and the media should be ashamed of themselves,” he wrote. “All across the country, conservatives have faced threats to their safety – many threats that received scant coverage or condemnation from the mainstream media.”
“It’s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they’re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family,” he continued.
On Monday, the attorney general filed two requests: a motion to quash the subpoena and another to seal the certificates of service, which included the affidavit.
His lawyers argued that Herrera “loitered at the Attorney General’s home for over an hour, repeatedly shouted at him, and accosted” him and his wife.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted both requests on Tuesday.
In a statement, the attorney general said that Herrera is “lucky this situation did not escalate further or necessitate force.”
See what others are saying: (The Texas Tribune) (CNN) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Ron DeSantis Faces Lawsuit, Investigation for “Human Trafficking” of Migrants
A woman only known as “Pearla” allegedly lured the desperate migrants onto planes with monetary incentives and false promises.
A Political Stunt Blows Up in the Governor’s Face
After unexpectedly flying some 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is staring down a class action lawsuit, a local investigation, and a potential probe from the Justice Department.
On Tuesday, Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the nonprofit Alianza Americas filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of the migrants. The filing names DeSantis, the state of Florida, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and their accomplices as defendants.
It alleges they fraudulently induced the migrants to cross state lines to Martha’s Vineyard, where shelter and resources were not prepared.
According to several accounts, the migrants were falsely promised work, free rent, and immigration assistance in exchange for taking the trip.
The migrants are seeking unspecified damages on top of the cost of their legal fees for emotional and economic harm.
On Monday, Texas Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced that he was opening an investigation into the migrant flights and DeSantis’s role in the scheme, which he called an “abuse of human rights.”
“They feel that they were deceived in being taken from Bexar County — from San Antonio, Texas — to where they eventually ended up,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “That could be a crime here in Texas and we will handle it as such.”
Salazar also said in a statement that his office was working with private attorneys representing the victims and advocacy organizations and that he was prepared to work with “any federal agency with concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise.”
Since making the announcement, the sheriff’s office has been bombarded by threats via phone and email, according to a statement by a spokesperson.
Dylan Fernandes, a Massachusetts state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard, called on the DoJ to launch a human trafficking probe into DeSantis Sunday.
He wrote on Twitter about the “inhumane acts,” saying, “Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”
A Mysterious Woman Named Pearla
Several migrants have told reporters, and claimed in the class action lawsuit, that they were lured onto the planes by a tall, blonde woman calling herself Pearla.
She reportedly approached them outside the San Antonio shelter, on the street, and in a McDonald’s parking lot, talking to them in broken Spanish.
Eduardo Linares, a migrant who said he rejected Pearla’s offer, told The Boston Globe that she promised them a free trip to Massachusetts and guaranteed work.
Another migrant named Alejandro told the outlet she offered him three months of free rent, job placement, and help with his immigration case.
The San Antonio Report interviewed a migrant named Emmanuel who said Pearla paid him $200 to recruit other migrants for the flights.
Tuesday’s lawsuit filing elaborates on their claims, saying that they were enticed with $10 McDonald’s gift cards to fly to Boston or Washington.
It alleges that the migrants were rounded up in hotel rooms while the scheme’s organizers gathered enough people to fill two planes, with them sequestered so they could not discuss the plan with anyone else.
“Once the individual Plaintiffs and class members landed, it became clear that the promises made to induce them on the planes were in fact bold-faced lies,” the filing says.
DeSantis defended himself on Fox News Monday night, saying, “They all signed consent forms to go and then the vendor that is doing this for Florida provided them with a packet that had a map of Martha’s Vineyard, it has the number for different services that are on Martha’s Vineyard.”
The brochures given to the migrants, however, listed services for refugees, not asylum seekers, and some migrants have said they weren’t aware of this fact. If the migrants were misled, the participants in the scheme could be criminally liable.
Who Pearla is and who employs her is still unknown, but DeSantis has publically taken credit for chartering the flights.
The League of United Latin American Citizens is offering $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of Pearla.
Two days after arriving in Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants voluntarily took shelter in a Cape Cod military base, which is designed for such emergency purposes.