Pelosi says House panel to investigate Texas winter power outages
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to investigate the causes of the widespread power outages in Texas due to crippling winter weather that has left millions without electricity or heat, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.
“I believe that the Energy and Commerce Committee will be taking up some form of, when I say, investigation, I mean, a look into it to see how things could have turned out better and will turn out better in the future,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.
Pelosi noted that she has a personal connection to the Texas crisis: One of her daughters lives in Houston and currently doesn’t have water.
“My daughter’s home has no water, pipes are breaking all over because of the cold. Again, they can handle it, but a lot of people can’t,” Pelosi said. “For my family, it’s one thing. But for people who don’t have so many options, it’s just heartbreaking.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) confirmed at a Thursday hearing about clean energy that the panel would investigate the roots of the Texas crisis.
“I also want to stress that this committee will investigate the Texas crisis further and we’ll see what other action we have to take,” Pallone said. “Ultimately, this episode underscores the importance of prioritizing clean and resilient energy infrastructure.”
Pelosi said that members of the Texas congressional delegation have outlined other needs for federal assistance to replenish the state’s water supply, help small businesses and provide food assistance. COVID-19 vaccine distribution has also been delayed due to the crisis sparked by the winter weather.
“It’s a question of needing water and food and energy and vaccines and the rest. We really have to be on top of that and hope that there would be some preparation for the future,” Pelosi said.
Many Texas facilities don’t have the same type of insulation as in states further north that are more accustomed to colder temperatures. Electric systems in Texas have subsequently been strained by the cold weather and a lack of natural gas, the state’s largest energy source.
About 7 million Texans have been ordered to boil their drinking water due to power outages affecting treatment plants, while about 500,000 Texans remained without power as of Thursday after close to 3 million were without electricity earlier in the week.
The city of Kyle, Texas, advised residents that “all water use be suspended” because the water supply was close to running out.
“Water should only be used to sustain life,” the advisory said.
House Democrats’ COVID-19 relief package, which is expected to get a floor vote late next week, includes $50 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund. And over the weekend, President Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas to authorize FEMA mobilization efforts.