TEXAS — By Wednesday morning, Texas Democrats had made one thing clear: Gov. Greg Abbott’s role in the failure of the state’s power grid during a historic winter storm was a justifiable cause for his resignation.
The group voiced its displeasure with his handling of the matter and what they perceived as a lack of ownership on social media with the hashtag #AbbottFailedTexas.
“Abbott’s response to this has been a complete failure,” said Abhi Rahman, communications director of the Texas Democratic Party. “His lack of planning has been a complete failure. This isn’t the first crisis situation where he has completely failed Texans.”
Earlier in the day, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas hosted a news conference to provide residents with the latest information on the statewide power outages.
Just after noon, more than 3 million people remained without power as temps stood below freezing for the third straight day, beginning Monday morning. But despite the numbers, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness stood by the decision of his grid operators, who he said “acted quickly” and “acted with judgment based on their training.”
“The fundamental decision that was made in the middle of the night, 1 a.m. on Monday, to have the outages imposed was a wise decision by the operators that we have here,” said Magness. “If we had waited and not done outages, reduced demand to reflect what was going on with the overall system, we could’ve drifted towards a blackout. I know that people feel like what we’re seeing feels like a blackout. But, a blackout can occur if you don’t keep the supply and demand balanced.”
Magness went on to say the operators' actions essentially prevented what could’ve turned out to be an even more “catastrophic event” that potentially would’ve lasted months to repair and rebuild the system. When asked about Abbott’s call for officials at ERCOT to resign, Magness didn't specify if that would take place.
“The priority for us now is to get the power back on,” Magness said. “Obviously, this has been a tremendously difficult situation for Texans to have this number of outages in effect for this long with this weather. It’s been a terrible situation. The assessment of how we did, I think is something that can be done after we get the power back on.”
Abbott received backlash after appearing on Fox News Tuesday evening and blamed solar and wind for the blackouts despite initially telling news outlets that the supply of natural gas was frozen in the rigs and pipelines, attributing to the electric blackouts. On Tuesday, he called for an investigation into the state’s power struggles.
“It’s shown how incompetent he is,” said Rahman. “It shows how he doesn’t care about what he’s doing and he goes on right-wing television instead of giving a press conference and just repeats lies about what really caused this thing in the first place. That’s not leadership.”
Former candidate for U.S. Senate, Beto O'Rourke, sounded off on Twitter about Abbott's appearance as well.
"You’re the governor of a state where millions don’t have power, where people are literally dying of exposure, and you go on Fox news to talk about... the Green New Deal? ," he wrote. You are the governor. Your party has run Texas for 20 years— accept responsibility [and] help us get out of this."
Over the weekend, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency. During an interview on NBC's Today Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris mentioned the crisis that has left millions stranded for hours without power.
“I just want to mention to all those folks in Texas and in the mid-Atlantic, I know they can’t see us right now because they are without electricity, but the president and I are thinking of them and really hope that we can do everything that is possible through the signing of the emergency orders to get federal relief to support them,” said Harris.
Reports said that at least two dozen people have died, including a Houston mother and her child who suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning after escaping to their car in the garage to find some warmth.
“Abbott’s response, Abbott’s incompetence is killing Texans and that’s the main takeaway from this,” said Rahman. “His inability to manage, his inability to govern is killing people in the state of Texas.”
ERCOT has repeatedly said a time of full restoration continues to be unknown. But they urged people to lessen their usage of power, natural gas, and solar energy to help with its effort to get the entire state of Texas back online. And for the Texas Democrats keeping count of what they call Abbott’s missteps when it comes to protecting the people of Texas, Rahman notes that the winter storm of 2021 adds to its lists of things “Texans are sick of.”
“Abbott failed in the coronavirus crisis, he failed with vaccine distribution, he failed with Hurricane Harvey’s resource distribution as well,” he said. “So, when there’s a crisis situation, Gov. Abbott has shown that he just doesn’t have what it takes to rise to the equation and actually lead. So, I think there will be several people that call on him to resign.”
Spectrum News 1 Texas reached out to Gov. Abbott’s office for a statement but did not get a response before the publication of this article.