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House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms

House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms
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Five Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including two from Texas, on Friday criticized the state's preparedness ahead of this week's deadly winter storms in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

“The events of this week demonstrate that there are significant shortcomings in preparations and more must be done to protect communities disproportionately impacted by winter power outages,” the letter said. 

The message penned by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneIntercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 House Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms MORE (D-N.J.) and Democratic Reps. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushGranholm expresses openness to pipeline cyber standards after Colonial attack Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE (Ill.), Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteNick Offerman testifies before Congress on vaccines: 'Medicine doesn't care who you voted for' Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act Regulator: Evidence suggests Texas 'absolutely' didn't follow recommendations to winterize power equipment MORE (Colo.), Marc VeaseyMarc Allison VeaseyMilitary Appreciation month is a time to honor America's bravest heroes House fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions New signs of progress emerge on police reform MORE (Texas) and Lizzie Fletcher (Texas) also raised concerns that recommendations following blackouts in 2011 may not have been fully implemented. 

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They were referring to a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation recommended steps including increasing winterization. It said that electricity-generating companies “failed to adequately prepare for winter,” citing inadequate insulation and a failure to train operators and maintenance personnel on winter preparations. 

At least 47 people have died in Texas and other states this week as devastating winter storms left millions without power amid frigid temperatures. 

The lawmakers also criticized statements that Abbott has made seeking to cast blame for the outages on renewable sources, even though officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have said that issues with various sources, particularly natural gas, have contributed to the problem. 

“These statements either suggest a lack of understanding of the Texas power grid’s fundamental operations or were an attempt to shift blame away from the very real issues that have existed within the state’s energy structure for years,” the Democrats wrote. 

Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. 

The lawmakers asked the governor a series of questions including when the state’s power will return, what he believes about how different power sources played into the issues, and whether increased connections between Texas and other power grids would have lessened the issues. 

President BidenJoe BidenJapan to possibly ease COVID-19 restrictions before Olympics 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday China supplies millions of vaccine doses to developing nations in Asia MORE has signed a disaster declaration for Texas, freeing up federal aid, and he said Friday he hopes to visit the state personally as soon as next week.