Texas’s Culture War on Clean Energy

By Lola Weber

March 8th, 2021

Texas, home to nearly 30 million Americans, has been hit by dangerous and unprecedented weather conditions, along with a brewing struggle regarding energy policy in the U.S. 

   As expected, the urgent weather crisis which  hit Texas this late winter has morphed into a cultural conflict of sorts, creating the red-blue division which frames itself in nearly every conflict across the nation. Initially, leading GOP members initiated this ‘war’ while attempting to scapegoat the calamity of the Texan energy disaster. 

   Dan Crenshaw, a Republican representative, urgently took to Twitter in the midst of the Texas emergency, stating, “with blackouts across Texas, many are wondering: what happened? Leftists are cheering a ‘red state’ having energy problems”. He then went on to blame the blackouts on “a mix of over-subsidized wind energy and under-investment in gas power”, which hastily fired off the energy hostility. 

   Tucker Carlson soon followed suit, declaring on a Fox News segment that, “the windmills failed like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died. This is not to beat up on the state of Texas — it’s a great state, actually — but to give you some sense of what’s about to happen to you.” Liberals have begun to parallel this conservative fervor over coal energy, towards wind energy.

   Although it is undeniable that in comparison to coal energy, wind energy finds itself to be significantly more environmentally beneficial, there is a discernible failure among both resources.

   While advocates of coal energy preach the resource’s efficiency, they fail to comprehend the detriment which follows. While renewable advocates push for alternatives like wind energy, they too fail to comprehend the risk and dependency that these resources have on unforeseeable weather conditions. 

 This is not to draw an equivalence between the two, as liberal renewable energy proponents are far less destructive in their mission in comparison to that of fossil fuel proponents, but to note a common flaw amongst both sides of this energy-culture war, which is the failure of well-rounded accountability and comprehension. This large-scale investment, which was about 47 billion dollars, put up by liberals across the U.S. in efforts to produce more wind turbines, did not come from a place of real climate urgency, but instead was a large-scale capitalist venture. 

   This endeavor is essentially what led to the critical deregulation of energy in Texas which created a perpetual auction on energy. Interestingly enough, Texans don’t mirror the ‘clean energy’ hostility which is so avidly projected by Republican lawmakers. 

In a survey conducted last fall, it was found that about 65 percent (an overall majority) of voters in Texas would be likely to support candidates who pledge to achieve 100% clean energy by the year 2035. Along with this, the study also found that a large sum of Texan voters actually supported the abolition of government tax advantages for the fossil fuel industry. 

The right wing zeal for fossil fuels isn’t as popular in Texas as many would assume, with 46 percent of people in the same study being against fracking, and only 34 percent being proponents of increased fossil fuel. The political climate regarding clean energy in Texas is a lot more progressive and willing to clean energy than conservative and liberal lawmakers suggest. 

Instead of the formation of another Red V. Blue culture war on energy, this situation should strike a pursuit in a more efficient and sustainable solution as a whole. Centering the discourse around wind energy versus fossil fuel energy is futile, when it should be focused around a stronger environmental agenda, such as the Green New Deal, and the push away from complete energy deregulation within the state of Texas, and throughout the nation. 

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