FederalismTexas GovernmentTexas LegislatureTexas BureaucracyLocal GovernmentAmerican Government

Texas Battered by Winter Storm

A powerful winter storm swept the state of Texas, leaving millions frustrated and reeling from the aftermath. The problems began with failures to the state’s power grid, which forced many Texans to bear the frigid climate without heat.

The freezing temperatures also led to significant disruptions in the water supply, leading to a humanitarian crisis. Days after the initial storm,  Texans throughout the state languished without adequate supplies, including food and water. The Biden administration pledged to help those affected by issuing a disaster declaration.

Instructors, click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for “Texas Battered by Winter Storm"

Links

“Gov. Greg Abbott wants power companies to “winterize.” Texas’ track record won’t make that easy.”
https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/20/texas-power-grid-winterize/
 
“Texas weather: President Biden declares major disaster”
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56129833
 
“Extreme Cold Killed Texans in Their Bedrooms, Vehicles and Backyards”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/19/us/texas-deaths-winter-storm.html
 
“A final round of freezing temperatures strikes Texas as the state struggles to recover from winter storms”
https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/20/weather/texas-winter-storm-saturday/index.html

“Cold, lack of water overwhelm Texas hospitals more than COVID-19 did”
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-weather-hospitals-idUSKBN2AK01I
 
“Biden declares major disaster in Texas as focus shifts to who is responsible for the winter weather crisis”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/02/20/winter-storms-texas-weather-updates/
 
“Winter storm damage may rival Hurricane Harvey’s price tag, experts say”
https://www.statesman.com/story/business/2021/02/19/texas-power-outages-winter-storm-may-cost-more-than-hurricane-harvey/4507186001/
 
“How the Texas power grid failed and what could stop it from happening again”
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/17/how-the-texas-power-grid-failed-and-what-could-stop-it-from-happening-again.html

Assessment

  • Writing: Describe the potential implications of the winter storm occurring while the Texas Legislature is in session. Why might that improve the likelihood of significant reform for preventing future disasters?
  • Debate: Should Texas make a more decided shift to renewable energy?
  • Poll: Should Texas join the national electrical grid??
  • Short Answer: In what way did the state’s low tax and low regulation system contribute to the natural disaster?

Current events quiz:

1) Why does Texas have its own electrical grid?

a. it allows the state to escape federal regulation
b. it allows Texans to collect royalties from utility company profits
c. the national grid is overextended and cannot handle more usage
d. the state has a modern, weatherized grid that is the model for the nation

2) Why was the electrical grid in Texas so overwhelmed that it led to widespread blackouts?

a. Texas’s reliance on wind power
b. ERCOT failed to generate enough power to meet the demand for electricity
c. other states experiencing cold borrowed energy from Texas
d. the state experienced shortages of coal and natural gas needed to run power plants

3) According to experts, what specific step could have been taken after the winter storm in 2011 that could have prevented some of the worst outcomes in 2021?

a. joining the national electrical grid
b. eliminating fossil fuels
c. winterizing power plants
d. state control of electricity and all other utilities

4) Energy usage in Texas usually peaks in the summer. (T/F)

5) Texans pay some of the lowest prices for electricity in the country. (T/F)

6) ERCOT is a visible organization in Texas that is known to proactively address issues before they become problems. (T/F)

Answers:

1) A

2) B

3) C

4) True

5) True

6) False

 

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Featured Image Credit: Jonathan Cutrer

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