Texas Republicans mocked California for blackouts. Now their tweets are coming back to haunt them

It was fine when it was just dunking on the libs in California

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published February 17, 2021 11:57AM (EST)

John Cornyn, Dan Crenshaw and Ted Cruz (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
John Cornyn, Dan Crenshaw and Ted Cruz (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

After a blizzard shut down Texas's energy grid last weekend, leaving millions without power, Republican lawmakers from Texas are now being raked through the mud on Twitter for having jumped on the opportunity to mock a similar crisis in California last year.  

California faced some of the biggest rolling blackouts in the state's history due to a record-breaking heat wave in 2020, with over 2 million residents affected by the outage. The crisis served as an inconvenient reminder to both state and federal officials that weatherization will become an increasingly important part of coping with the extreme weather changes brought on by climate change. Instead of expressing compassion for the state's residents, who were enduring wildfires, outages, and the COVID crisis all at the same time, many Republican lawmakers from Texas seized upon California's time of need to criticize Democratic leadership and the potential of green energy. 

"California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, tweeted last year, "Biden/Harris/AOC want to make CA's failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don't like air conditioning!"

Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-TX, echoed Cruz, specifically taking aim at the "corrupt 'green'" policies that have "left Texas energy workers out of a job" without citing any evidence that this has been the case. In fact, there is reason to believe that green energy has created jobs in Texas. 

"California's energy nightmare shows us why Texas must trust the free market," Senator John Cornyn, R-TX, stated.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-TX, also joined the chorus last year, tweeting, "Alexa, show me what happens when you let Democrats control energy policy," but then attempted to defend his behavior.  

California Governor Gavin Newsom cited climate change (a phenomenon accelerated by gas and coal power plants) as one of the main contributors to last year's blackout, but Texas Republicans nevertheless made non-renewable energy the culprit of California's blackouts, despite there being no evidence for this. 

Republican lawmakers from Texas, who have a long history of touting their state's energy prowess, are finding themselves the butt of the joke as millions in the Lone Star State are facing days-long blackouts.

Although many right-wing lawmakers and pundits are loudly blaming frozen wind turbines for the historic blackout Texas is facing, coal and nuclear energy were reportedly responsible for about twice as many outages as renewables, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot), which operates the state's power grid. Mark Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program Jacobson, told the Associated Press, "It's really natural gas and coal and nuclear that are providing the bulk of the electricity and that's the bulk of the cause of the blackouts."

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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