President Joe Biden refused to entirely fulfill the relief request that was issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in response to widespread energy failures that arose in the midst of a Texas “freeze” that has been attributed with the deaths of at least ten people.
“President Joe Biden declared a major disaster for 77 Texas counties, the White House said Saturday morning, two days after Gov. Greg Abbott had asked for a declaration that covered all 254 counties coping with the effects of a winter storm that knocked out power and heat across the state,” reported the Dallas Morning News.
Biden’s disaster declaration, issued last Friday, offers much less than what Texas officials had requested.
“The declaration covers much of the Texas population, including Dallas and neighboring counties, and the counties that include Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but falls far short of what Texas officials sought,” the Dallas Morning News continued.
“This partial approval is an important first step,” Abbott conceded on Saturday.
“I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state,” Abbott said earlier in a statement. “Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need. The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage.”
Earlier on Friday, senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz had requested that Biden urgently approve the request for aid “for all 254 Texas counties as a result of severe winter weather that began on February 11, 2021.”
“We urge you to grant this request to secure the health and safety of all Texans affected by this disaster,” the wrote.
As pointed out by the Dallas Morning News, there was a bi-partisan call to get relief for all of the counties.
There was an urgent request made by “18 of 23 Texas Republicans in the U.S. House plus Houston Rep. Al Green, who also signed the Democrats’ letter.”
“Our home state has been battered by unprecedented winter weather that has affected all 254 counties in Texas, overwhelmed the power grid, and crippled our roadways,” they wrote. “The historic impacts of winter precipitation and arctic temperatures have left millions of Texans without power, potable water, and have strained the supply chain for food and other necessities.”
The Biden administration did not entirely fulfill that request. The aftermath of the Texas freeze has nonetheless been brutally harsh on state residents.
“Freezing temperatures sent energy demand soaring in Texas to levels that eclipsed even the hottest summer days,” reported Politico. “Grid operators there and across the Midwest implemented rolling blackouts to prevent further damage to the grid, but in Texas alone 4 million customers have been without power since Monday.”
“Investigations of the causes are just beginning, but data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s electric grid, showed that at least 30 gigawatts of power fueled by natural gas, coal and nuclear went off line Monday, along with 16 gigawatts of renewable power,” it admitted in its contorted piece defending the expansion of state-subsidized alternative energy sources.
Claims, however, that Biden’s Energy Department denied the state’s energy grid provider ERCOT permission to operate at full capacity due to emissions caps are unfounded, however.
“Did the U.S. Energy Department deny ERCOT (Texas’ electricity distributor) permission to operate at maximum levels because it would violate air pollution limits?” KHOU asked. “No, according to U.S. Energy documents. The request was granted, but included a warning that ERCOT not exceed the amount of generation absolutely needed to restore power and keep Texas homes warm.”
In a Feb. 14 letter, ERCOT said that it, “understands the importance of the environmental permits that are at issue. However, in ERCOT’s judgment, the loss of power to homes and local businesses … presents a far greater risk to public health and safety than the temporary exceedances of those permit limits.”
Thus, the Biden administration may be blamed at a later date for leaving two-thirds of the state’s counties without an encompassing disaster declaration and attached aid. But the accusation that the Energy Department kept the state from better keeping its power going is without substantive evidence.
On the previous Sunday, Biden had dispatched FEMA to assist Texans in crisis.
“FEMA is already there and providing support – generators, diesel fuel, water, blankets, and other supplies,” the president said.
“The storm could be the costliest weather event in Texas history. With the winter freeze reaching all 254 Texas counties, insurance claims could top the $19 billion costs of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and even the $20.1 billion adjustment for inflation, according to the Insurance Council of Texas, a trade group,” the Dallas Morning news estimated.
The bottom line is that if Donald Trump had refused to completely fulfill a blue state governor’s disaster relief request, which was backed by a bi-partisan group of Congress members, the media would make sure there would be hell to pay.
Maybe the media will start holding Democrats to the same standard. When hell freezes over.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.