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The Looming Lone Star State Crisis

austin, texas
sepavone on Deposit Photos

This article was co-authored with David Grasso. || Texas has been giving California and New York a run for their money. It’s a great place to live, with an infectious and charming culture and no state income tax. But the recent cascading power grid failure that unfolded in Texas is a canary in the coal mine for its long-term issues with governance.  

Simply put, Texas is struggling to accommodate the runaway growth. The cracks appear to point to a systemic problem: The state has to radically change how they do things if it’s going to succeed as a sustainable economic powerhouse. 

Let’s start with the positive: Texas is a beautiful place to call home, and it’s easy to understand the driving forces behind the state’s growth story. This mega-state has seemingly overnight become a haven for disgruntled domestic ex-pats seeking refuge from local and state governments where they feel unappreciated. 

Capital and investment flow to places that treat it well and Texas fits the bill as a safe place to make long-term business decisions. These conditions are incentivizing Toyota, Tesla, and nearly everyone under the sun to pack their bags and head for Texas. Without hesitation, these corporate rainmakers and the entire economy that supports them are making big moves and shifting their lives to the Lone Star state. 

But unless Texas makes some changes in governance and infrastructure, they’ll be a new California, struggling to maintain their popularity in the face of constant crisis. 

In Norway, “Texas” means “crazy,” and The Lone Star state isn’t too far from its frontier roots. Its independence is admirable; God bless Texas for the small government and low taxes. No wonder the multinational computer software company Oracle is taking a chance on their Southern charm. But the fact is that Texas didn’t aptly prepare for the storm, reflecting pressure points in other areas. 

The power grid is emblematic of persistent public policy issues in Texas. Oddly, Texas has its own electricity grid, called the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The idea is commemorable; the execution is lacking. Austin’s newest resident Elon Musk said that ERCOT “is not earning that R.” The state was minutes away from a catastrophic collapse that could have lasted months. 

The topic of windmills became a cry of outrage for and against the Green New Deal’s argument. During this disastrous Winter storm, windmills froze, barring the grid from gleaning any power. However, the magnitude of the power collapse wasn’t because of windmills because “only 7% of ERCOT’s forecasted winter capacity” was forecasted to come from wind, according to the Texas Tribune. It was primarily due to the natural gas system’s failures, as its design can’t withstand freezing temperatures

Overall, Texas’ government needs to adapt to meet the state’s new status. The legislature only meets every other year in Austin. However, in a state that’s the second most populous and steadily growing, a more proactive approach possibly would help them in these crucial times.

Sadly, the government focuses on partisan, cultural issues instead of implementing strategic and practical infrastructure. States with astronomical growth don’t have the luxury of fighting over flippant issues. It’s time to buckle down, stop arguing, and at least build a reliable electricity grid.

You “don’t mess with Texas” for a reason. They’ve built a vibrant economy with their rich natural resources and appeal to industries. It doesn’t hurt that they have nearly as much petroleum as Saudi Arabia. The state boasts geography, culture, and money, which is why it won’t stop growing altogether. 

However, the government can either capitalize on the growth or squelch it. Now, what it needs is a government that isn’t too afraid, traditionalist, or selfish to break from the old way of how Texas operates. 

In the meantime, if you’re interested in donating to Texans affected by the storm, click here.

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