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What Can California Learn from Texas' Blackouts?

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021   

LANCASTER, Calif. - In the wake of last week's massive power blackouts in Texas, there's a lot of blame to go around. But groups that fight climate change say the root problem, in every state, is burning fossil fuels.

Clean-energy advocates have said climate change is leading to more extreme weather events, from the storm that froze Texas to the heat and drought driving wildfires in California. San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon said that's why her city uses 100% renewable energy and bans gas hookups in new homes.

"When you look at a situation like Texas, so much of that is climate exacerbated," she said. "And so, we're getting into some really pretty serious, probably, feedback loops here - that we're going to have to do everything in our power to turn this around before it's too late, if it's not already too late."

As of 2019, data from the California Energy Commission show, almost half the state's energy came from natural gas. Natural-gas suppliers have countered that it's cleaner than coal and easily accessible, day or night.

Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez is a former mayor of Oxnard, a lower-income community of color that has hosted oil and gas production for decades but recently rejected a new gas-powered plant. She said the city now boasts a clean-energy storage facility.

"We've paid our dues for energy production for the region," she said. "Now, it's time for us to have a more modern source of energy that doesn't pollute, that doesn't harm the health of our people."

Rex Parris, the Republican mayor of Lancaster, noted that his city is the first to run entirely on hydrogen power.

"The only thing standing in our way of solving this crisis is the will to do it," he said. "Two years ago, I would have told you, 'We don't have the technology to save the planet.' But now we do. We just have to move rapidly. And in Lancaster, we've been moving rapidly - and making a lot of money in the process."

A study from the nonprofit Climate Central found that hurricanes, wildfires, heat storms and other extreme-weather events caused 67% more power outages in the United States in the decade ending in 2019 than in the previous 10-year period.

Disclosure: Elected Officials to Protect America contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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