ICYMI: Big Oil Handpicked Grid Reliability Group, Latest In GOP Grid Scandal

AUSTIN, Texas — Thursday, the Texas Tribune revealed that when a committee for grid reliability was created in the aftermath of February’s devastating winter power outages, the oil industry’s top four choices were all selected by the Republican-controlled Railroad Commission, which sets energy policy in Texas.

The revelation is the latest in an ongoing scandal whereby Texas Republicans allowed the power grid to catastrophically fail through two decades of negligence and deregulation — and then, in the aftermath, refused to make any meaningful changes to prevent a future disaster. This instance of clear favoring of the oil and gas industry over Texans fits neatly into Gov. Greg Abbott’s pattern of prioritizing donor dollars from big energy, rather than the people he was elected to serve. A handful of other egregious examples include:

  • Abbott tried to pull the wool over our eyes by declaring the grid was fixed after legislators passed a bandaid bill in May 2021 — which required no meaningful changes or greater regulation and oversight to force energy companies to weatherize their operations and prevent future disasters.
  • Abbott accepted a million dollar check from energy donor Kelcy Warren in exchange for taking no meaningful action that would protect Texans and cut marginally into oil and gas profits.
  • Abbott added three irregular legislative sessions to the calendar this year, and did not put fixing the grid on the agenda for one single session.

It’s clear where Abbott and Texas Republicans’ priorities lie: with donor profits — not with Texans.

Texas Democratic Party Co-Executive Director Jamarr Brown issued the following statement:

“I’m disgusted, but not surprised, to hear that Texas Republicans allowed big energy executives to choose the people who are supposed to be advising us on how to make our grid more reliable. This all but guarantees that Greg Abbott will continue to do nothing to fix the grid — which means energy executives will keep raking in profits and avoid spending money to clean up their operations, and Texans will keep having to worry about what happens the next time the power goes out.

“More than 700 people died in February’s winter storm. Families are still grieving those losses. Yet because of Greg Abbott and his corrupt dealings with his donors, our grid is just as vulnerable as ever. We are approaching another winter season, and Texans deserve to know that their heat and electricity won’t fail them — but Abbott’s inaction almost certainly means we will see more devastation the next time a storm hits. That’s the opposite of leadership, and Texans are tired of it. We need strong Democrats leading this state and putting people first, and Texas Democrats are fighting every day to make that happen.”