The Tale of Two Freezes

Commenter and Agriculture Economist Michael Smith

The Tale of Two Freezes:

This one has been a long time coming and with the special session happening in Texas with our legislature a few things have become very apparent. Texas gets criticized heavily in the media all over the United States, and arguably, worldwide. We are a cast as a brazen form of maverick insurrectionists some of it reality, some not. But the truth is a little more egregious. Let’s focus on the politics and also look at some basics. 

“We are going to make sure not another Democrat ever wins in this state ever again:”

Proclaimed the Republican top brass after the election success of Gov. Ann Richards. She was a spitfire reformer that the state needed during a time of economic downturn that ended up influencing an entire generation of people like me to think differently than our parents. She was smart, witty, clever, and resilient. 

The policies put in place shaped current Texas politics, even to this day. The Republicans gerrymandered a political ladder starting with George W. Bush that has continued with the likes of Ricky Perry and Abbot, et. al. that still continues to this day that will never be broken without a SCOTUS decision via de-gerrymandering, or a change in public discourse (both highly unlikely). 

The Bush family was a well known and established family that had ties to big oil, the Saudi’s, and wealth. George Herman Walker Bush I have high regard for, even if I disagree with his politics. Jon Mecham chronicles some interesting facts into that. The name alone was a shoo-in. But the Republicans took it much, much farther. If you look at the past and even not so distant congressional maps you will see Black and Brown neighborhoods sectioned off and the rest of the state is as red as the ripe San Marzano tomatoes I have growing in the field. This was Gerry on steroids. 

Fast forward a few decades and you will understand the current political calculus that I am about to impart. 

Republican districts are either highly rural, or highly specific. The designation matters. A lot. 

“So, uh, what does this have to do with the freeze in February?:” 

Good question!

The Republican districts, like mine were fine during the freeze. I know all of you city dwellers are asking what the hell do I mean by that, so let me explain.

ERCOT is a sham. Let’s forget them. They were setup as a target to shoot when something goes wrong, a really fancy scapegoat with headquarters in the country not far from my watermelons, which is weird for them to be out in the middle of nowhere.

Let’s get to the facts:

People in cities were without power for easily up to 5 days or more as the state was below freezing in daily high temperatures for multiple days and beyond. People in the cities. Let’s remember this because those were the Gerrymandered districts that have been set aside due to the post Ann Richards Republican fencing. People in the country? Well, we did just fine. A lot of Black and Brown communities have not recovered, even to this day. I have seen many, many communities that still need plumbing repairs, roof repairs, and new places to live. We have not recovered as a society and probably will never. 

The Majority of us “out here” were without power maybe a couple of days as the electrical lines froze during ice storms and then were quickly repaired. Why? Natural gas. We have on-line compression stations. They are hooked to the grid, and if we go down, so do they. Some are solar powered, but solar is expensive and compression stations and also oil fields themselves close to cities are on our lines. 

Why does this matter?:

Well, we spent a few days stoking our fire places and even got together with the neighbors to cut wood and make sure everyone was fed, warm, and had water. We melted snow and ice to drink and cook with (no power = no working water well). A collective amnesia has now been adopted by the “out here” folks who forgot that our power grid essentially died. We were only down for a couple of days and our pipes never froze in the walls, “so pull up your boot straps”. 

If you now look at why there is no political appetite to reform the power grid of Texas, or eliminate ERCOT, or even join the national grid, this is it. We out here fared way better than the cities, mostly out of necessity of oil and gas to continue flowing. But the next time will be our last. As gas becomes a back seat passenger to the gigantic solar outfit outside of Amarillo, and the multitude of other outfits going in around the state, and the one I am installing on my property, and my being a vocal advocate in my community, good fucking riddance.