Texas Republicans should take responsibility for their Cheapskate Disaster

The Texas grid failure that’s left millions struggling without power in freezing conditions has ignited a feud between Democrats and the GOP over Republicans’ decades-long oversight of the energy industry and prompted calls for a system more resilient to extreme weather conditions.

Texas has avoided federal regulation by establishing its own power grid that’s nearly cut off from the rest of the country — an isolated system that conservatives in power have long praised.

But the system collapsed this week from a surge in energy demand coupled with frozen utility plants during a brutal winter storm, which then increased energy prices and triggered the state’s worst blackouts in decades…

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-TX, blamed Texas Republican leaders for prioritizing “stupid culture wars,” like efforts to make Texas a gun “sanctuary state,” rather than protecting residents from extreme weather events made worse by climate change.

“So much of this was avoidable,” O’Rourke said this week on an interview with MSNBC. “Going back to the deregulation of our electricity grid in Texas, which has created an incentive to actually not weatherize or protect against these events.”

“The energy capital of North America cannot provide enough energy to warm and power people’s homes,” O’Rourke continued. “We are nearing a failed state in Texas. And it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters. It has everything to do with those in positions of public trust who have failed us.”

Texas worked harder than any other state to substitute Republican slogans for technology, science or good sense. The citizens of Texas suffered the logical result of ignorant partisan politics.

Republican party hacks deserve to be thrown out of office for acting like obedient pawns in the game of economic life.

Texas demonstrates when you cannot govern, you lie. A lot.


Bronte Wittpenn/Austin American

…Elect a president with no public-sector experience, no interest in learning, no desire to hire competent people and no ability to accept responsibility, and you get something like the covid-19 debacle. Moreover, if your party is hostile to government and exercising regulatory power because it is beholden to a donor class and right-wing ideologues, you will not be prepared for disasters when they strike.

…That brings us to Texas. The Washington Post reports, “As millions of people across Texas struggled to stay warm Tuesday amid massive cold-weather power outages, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed his ire at one particular failure in the state’s independent energy grid: frozen wind turbines.” There is one problem: That is not remotely true (as you might have guessed from a state with an enormous oil and gas sector). “The governor’s arguments were contradicted by his own energy department, which outlined how most of Texas’s energy losses came from failures to winterize the power-generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines…”

In other words, rotten policy and management are to blame. “What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans,” The Post reports. “It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.”

RTFA. Not only a reliable source for facts, the Post has a history of researching the course of events to accurately determine cause and effect. More often than most.

Michelin commits to shipping tires on sail-powered cargo vessels


There will be two of these – to start

Tire manufacturer Michelin has agreed to ship some of its tires using two sail-powered cargo ships being developed by French shipping line Neoline.

Under the agreement, tires will be loaded in containers and shipped from Michelin’s facilities in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Saint-Nazaire, France as soon as the Neoline’s first ships enter service in 2023.

Michelin’s interest in sailing cargo ships comes as the group seeks to decarbonize its logistics supply chains as part of its commitment to zero-carbon emissions by 2050…

France-based Neoline was established in 2015 with the intention of the becoming the world’s first shipowner specializing in modern cargo ships that use sails for its main propulsion. The company is in the process of constructing its first two ships that will operate between St-Nazaire, Halifax, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Baltimore on the U.S. east coast.

Bravo!

Will the (electric) future be made in America?

President Joe Biden said Monday the U.S. government would replace the entire federal fleet of cars, trucks and SUVs with electric vehicles manufactured in the United States, a commitment tied to a broader campaign promise to create 1 million new jobs in the American auto industry and supply chains…

Biden made the comments prior to signing the Made in America executive order, which places stricter rules on the federal government’s procurement practices. The government has existing “buy American” rules, which states that a certain amount of a product must be made in the U.S. for a purchase to qualify for a federal contract.

The opportunity is a large one. The U.S. government had more than 645,000 vehicles in its fleet in 2019, the most recent data available from the General Services Agency. Of those, about 224,000 are passenger vehicles and more than 412,000 are trucks.

Of course, the conversion to a carbon neutral economy will take steps like this to achieve qualitative change. What to watch, now, is to see who steps up to help…or hinder the change.

Who cares about Clark Kent?

With the arrival of the mobile phone, phone boxes are now obsolete. So, what to do with all those boxes and their infrastructure? Ireland is applying adaptive reuse of the well-positioned phone booths by turning them into EV chargers.

Irish telecoms company Eir and EV charging network EasyGo will replace 180 phone boxes with EV rapid charge points. EasyGo will use DC rapid chargers developed by Australia-based Tritium.

Gerry Cash, director of EasyGo, explains the reason for the innovative collaboration:

We’ve a culture of going into towns and places of convenience. Typically, the locations of the phone boxes are in those types of places. And that’s what we want to do — make the experience of charging a car easy, comfortable, and safe for people.

Way too reasonable a solution to satisfy Americans. Or someone really important…like the board of directors of AT&T.

Denmark will end oil, gas extraction in North Sea


Claus Bonnerup/Polfoto

Denmark has decided to end all oil and gas activities in the North Sea by 2050 and has cancelled its latest licensing round, saying the country is “now putting an end to the fossil fuel era.”

The Danish Parliament voted late Thursday to end offshore gas and oil extraction, which had started in 1972 and made the country the largest producer in the European Union. Non EU-members Norway and Britain are larger producers, with a bigger presence in the North Sea…

Denmark has been an early adopter of wind power, with more than a third of its electricity production deriving from wind turbines. They are considered key in the transformation of the energy system and should enable Denmark to no longer be dependent on fossil fuels in 2050 for electricity production.

Thinking ahead, making clear decisions based on sound science, are characteristics of modern governance that have been on the downbound road in the GOUSA since they were targeted by the Reagan administration.