AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott is set to deliver a televised statewide address Wednesday evening as Texas continues its recovery efforts after Winter Storm Uri manhandled a severely underprepared state.
Abbott is expected to discuss the massive power outages Texas experienced last week, along with the statewide recovery efforts.
The announcement of the speech arrives as the governor’s performance has come under fire over the last week. After receiving criticism from both parties over his handling of COVID-19 during the last year, albeit for different reasons, Abbott now also faces fierce scrutiny over infrastructure woes.
The governor also received national criticism last week after a Fox News appearance in which he appeared to blame the mass power outages on wind turbines.
“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Abbott told Sean Hannity. “Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10% of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis. … It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”
As numerous fact checks have shown, wind and solar were not the main causes of the severe outages — wind shutdowns contributed to less than 13% of the outages. As Bloomberg reported, turbines make up less than a quarter of the state’s energy mix during the winter.
Before his appearance on Fox News, Abbott pointed toward natural gas as a big reason for the state’s lack of power. In an local appearance on Dallas’ WFAA-TV, he noted that he was being told by providers that natural gas was frozen in pipelines, at rigs and at transmission lines.
“The natural gas providers are incapable of providing the natural gas that feeds into the generators that send power to people’s residences there in the Dallas area,” Abbott told WFAA.
While some Democrats, such as Dallas’ state Sen. Royce West, have called for bipartisan cooperation on fixing the electricity system, potential Abbott foes in next year’s gubernatorial election, such as former presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro have assailed him as a failed leader.
Also, for the past week, the state Democratic Party has fired salvo after salvo at Abbott and other top Republicans.
“You can’t run a government effectively with people who don’t believe in government, but that’s what we have in Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick and the rest of them. That needs to change,” Castro said during Texas Democrats’ virtual news conference Friday. “After what happened these past few days, a lot more Texans see that very clearly as well.”
Abbott’s address Wednesday will be followed on Friday by a visit from President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to visit Houston to assess the damage from last week’s storm.