A Progressive White Knight Rides In To Save Texans From The GOP's ERCOT
A Bold Move for Energy Resilience: Congressman Greg Casar Takes On Texas' Electric Grid Crisis.
Today, Congressman Greg Casar announced he is drafting federal legislation requiring Texas’s electrical grid to connect to the national grids. After years of Texans pleading with the Texas Legislature to do something to help our failing electric grid, they have continuously refused. To be more specific, Republicans with oil moguls deep in their pockets have blocked all solutions to fixing our grid.
Over the last week, ERCOT has asked Texans to conserve power every day while outages and rolling blackouts have occurred throughout the state. The outages and problems with ERCOT this summer have all stemmed from natural gas and coal power plant failures.
Republicans will never connect us to the national grid, even though it’s the right thing to do. They won’t because of the amount of money the oil and gas industry pours into Republican elections. That’s all there is to it. The Texas GOP has shown us time and time again that the only ones they are beholden to are the fat cats who fill their pockets.
Can Congress force Texas to connect to the national grid?
The authority of Congress to regulate commerce among states is derived from the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, found in Article I, Section 8. The courts interpreted this clause to grant Congress significant authority over interstate commerce and activities that impact it. Since the Texas electrical grid affects interstate commerce substantially, Congress has a constitutional basis to regulate its connectivity to the national grids.
However, the interpretation of the Commerce Clause has evolved and can be complex. And if Casar’s bill should pass, there would be substantial legal challenges.
You can absolutely expect Texas Republicans to shout about “states’ rights.” Texas’ decision to operate its own grid is rooted in its desire to avoid federal regulations. However, regulations can ensure that our electricity remains accessible and reliable. Mandating a connection to the national grid will be seen by the GOP as an encroachment on Texas’ sovereignty, leading to legal and political challenges based on the principles of federalism.
If Congress were to mandate that Texas’ grid connects to the national grids, Republicans would claim it as a federal intervention in a matter that Texas has traditionally controlled. The state will argue that this federal action infringes upon its rights to manage its affairs without undue interference.
There’s no question that Republicans would fight this legislation.
But, there are questions about whether or not all Republicans would fight it. Once Casar introduces the bill, it would likely go to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. There are several Texans on this Committee, both Republican and Democrat. We should expect to see the Texas Republicans Michael Burgess, Dan Crenshaw, Randy Weber, and August Pfluger all fight it. But will Republicans from other states, knowing the bad shape of the grid, put up an equal argument?
It remains to be seen. If it does make it out of the Committee and goes to the House floor for a vote, would any Republicans vote in favor of this, knowing it will save Texans’ lives?
This legislation definitely has an uphill battle, considering the Republican majority in Congress. But, until we can flip the Texas Legislature or get a new governor, it may be our only option for salvation.
And if it does pass in Congress, we should expect to see dozens of lawsuits directly from the State and oil companies. Cases like this would probably make their way up to the Supreme Court.
As you can see, many variables are involved, and it’s not something that will likely happen quickly. However, given the failing state of our electric grid and how it’s cost hundreds of lives and billions of dollars, legal challenges would most likely fall on our side (the people).
What can you do?
Whether you live in Texas or elsewhere, call your Congressperson and urge them to support Greg Casar’s legislation. If your Congressperson is a Democrat, ask them to co-sponsor it.
If you are not sure who your Congressperson is, you can find out here.
Summer is nearly over, and we have less than a month left of oppressively hot temperatures. If ERCOT can make it to October, we’ll have at least a month of weather good enough where we don’t have to worry. Of course, it’ll be cold soon after that, and the grid conditions will become unstable again.
We live in America, not a third-world country. In the year 2023, we shouldn’t have to worry every day about whether or not we’ll have electricity. Political powers can change this, and we must support the willing ones.