Texas

Ted Cruz jets off to Cancun while millions in Texas remain without power

Ted Cruz returned to Texas today, less than 24 hours after fleeing the state in the middle of an energy crisis for a vacation with his family in Mexico, after being eviscerated for making the trip instead of staying to help. 

Cruz released a statement on Thursday afternoon, claiming that his family decided to make the trip after losing power in their home.  He said his daughters had asked to take a trip with friends and that he escorted them to ‘be a good dad’. 

‘This has been an infuriating week for Texans… Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too. With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,’ he said. 

But United Airlines sources say he changed his flight at 6am on Thursday from Saturday to this afternoon. He also claimed on Tuesday – the day before the trip – that his family didn’t lose power or heat and that his children’s friends had come round for shelter. 

Sources told The New York Times and FOX that the trip was pre-planned. 

Cruz requested a police escort through Houston Airport on Wednesday before his flight to Cancun at around 4pm on Wednesday. 

He was pictured at the United Airlines lounge, at the gate and on the plane before take-off. He was also on the standby list for an upgrade to business class but didn’t get it. His wife Heidi’s name wasn’t on the list for an upgrade. 

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz speaks to the media at the Cancun International Airport before boarding his plane back to the U.S., in Cancun, Mexico February 18, 2021. He was wearing a Texas mask and spoke briefly to Telemundo, a local station, amid uproar over his planned vacation during the worst energy crisis Texas has ever seen

The family was planning on staying in a resort they’ve visited before, sources said, though it’s unclear which exactly. Last year, they stayed at the Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun where rooms are $480-a-night.  

Temperatures in Texas this week dropped as low as -2 F – the lowest they have been since 1903 – and snow and ice is blanketing the state. By contrast, it is 85 F and sunny all week.  

Cruz released statement on Thursday claiming he was just escorting his wife and daughters to Texas, that the trip was last minute and that they'd also lost power. United sources said he changed his flight at 6am on Thursday amid a swell of criticism

Cruz released statement on Thursday claiming he was just escorting his wife and daughters to Texas, that the trip was last minute and that they’d also lost power. United sources said he changed his flight at 6am on Thursday amid a swell of criticism 

Cruz was due to return on Saturday, but as criticism of the trip exploded on Thursday morning, with many furious Texans demanding to know why he hadn’t stayed behind to help in the crisis, he changed his plans.

He was on the list for a business class upgrade on one of the afternoon flights out of Cancun on Thursday afternoon.  

To re-enter the US from a foreign country, all passengers must first test negative for COVID-19 by law. They’re then advised by the CDC to obtain a negative COVID test again, three to five days after they return, and quarantine for a full seven days after they return. Texas has no quarantine laws for entering from another country or state. 

According to ABC, his office contacted the Houston Police Department staff at the airport and ‘requested assistance’ on Wednesday before his outbound flight. ‘HPD officers monitored his movements through the terminal,’ a spokesman for the force said. 

The situation in Texas is so bad that people are being told to boil water before drinking to reduce any possible contaminants due to a failure in water pressure and plants.  

Ted Cruz is pictured on Wednesday afternoon at Houston Airport jetting to Cancun with his wife and kids on a United Airlines flight while more than 3million Texans were freezing in their homes without power. On Tuesday, he told people to stay at home and 'hug their kids'and above all else, avoid driving or traveling in the dangerous conditions

Ted Cruz is pictured on Wednesday afternoon at Houston Airport jetting to Cancun with his wife and kids on a United Airlines flight while more than 3million Texans were freezing in their homes without power. On Tuesday, he told people to stay at home and ‘hug their kids’and above all else, avoid driving or traveling in the dangerous conditions

Cruz is shown with his wife Heidi (right) and one of his two daughters (left)

Cruz is shown with his wife Heidi (right) and one of his two daughters (left)

Cruz is shown with his wife Heidi (right) and one of his two daughters (left)

Cruz narrowly missed out on a business class seat. He was on the list for an upgrade - his wife's name wasn't

Cruz narrowly missed out on a business class seat. He was on the list for an upgrade – his wife’s name wasn’t

Cruz in the United Airlines lounge at Houston airport on Wednesday before his  flight

Cruz in the United Airlines lounge at Houston airport on Wednesday before his  flight

Many can’t because they don’t have the power to do it. 

Cruz in his seat in coach after boarding the plane on Wednesday afternoon

Cruz in his seat in coach after boarding the plane on Wednesday afternoon 

Cruz said earlier this week that his home hadn’t lost power, and that he and his wife had welcomed in their children’s friends who weren’t as lucky. 

‘Thankfully, my home, we didn’t lose power. So right now we’ve got a bunch of the neighborhood kids all over playing with our girls, because their parents lost power and our house was lucky.

‘So we’ve got kids running up and down the stairs right now,’ he told radio host Joe Paglialuro on Tuesday. 

He went on: ‘If you can stay home, don’t go out on the roads, don’t risk the ice. … 

‘Don’t risk it. Keep your family safe, and just stay home and hug your kids.’ 

On top of outrage over Cruz’s trip, he was also mocked and compared to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who closed all of the state’s public beaches in 2017 during a government shutdown over a budget standoff, then took his family to the beach.  

Rafael Edward Cruz is the Senator's given name. Rafael Cruz was the second name on the standby list for a business class upgrade

Rafael Edward Cruz is the Senator’s given name. Rafael Cruz was the second name on the standby list for a business class upgrade 

People have abandoned their frozen homes in Texas to seek warmth in shelters across the state. 

On Thursday morning, the Mayor of Galveston said the ‘human suffering’ he was witnessing was ‘very concerning’ and that the situation was worse than any hurricane the state has experienced because it’s affecting the whole state and not just the coast. 

Cruz was shown on the list of passengers waiting for an upgrade from coach to business on Wednesday night, under his given name Rafael Edward Cruz. 

He was inundated with criticism from people who called him ‘morally bankrupt’. 

An unnamed Republican source confirmed to FOX News that it was Cruz at the airport. 

‘The photos speak for themselves,’ they said.   

Cruz acknowledged the woeful failure of Texan officials in preventing the energy crisis in a tweet earlier this week. He mocked California's power outages last summer

Cruz acknowledged the woeful failure of Texan officials in preventing the energy crisis in a tweet earlier this week. He mocked California’s power outages last summer

He had earlier been forced to admit he had ‘no defense’ after an August 2020 tweet mocking power outages in California resurfaced. 

Cruz tweeted Wednesday: ‘I got no defense. A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good. Stay safe!’

He had said: ‘California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity.

‘Biden/Harris/AOC want to make CA’s failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don’t like air conditioning!’ 

After images of Cruz at the airport surfaced online Sawyer Hackett, senior advisor and communications for Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro tweeted: ‘It appears in the middle of the worst energy crisis in the history of Texas, @tedcruz is on his way to Cancun with his family.’

Beto O’Rourke was among those who criticized him. 

‘Cruz seems to believe there isn’t much for him to do in Texas for the millions of fellow Texans who remain without electricity/water and are literally freezing,’ he tweeted on Wednesday night.  

Hackett later called for Cruz to ‘resign or be expelled immediately’. 

Twitter user Elsa Ramon posted: ‘My 73-yo dad lives in Austin and is sleeping in full winter camping gear. 

He sits in his running truck with the heater on during the day for warmth, @tedcruz. 

‘Enjoy Cancun, you morally bankrupt piece of s***.’ 

National Weather Service lead forecaster Bob Oravec had earlier said of Texas: ‘There’s really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area.’ 

Pictures then emerged of Cruz waiting in line to check in his bags and boarding the flight to Mexico. 

This week’s extreme weather has been blamed for the deaths of more than 30 people, some of whom perished while struggling to keep warm inside their homes. 

In the Houston area, one family succumbed to carbon monoxide from car exhaust in their garage. Another family died while using a fireplace to keep warm. 

The president of the Texas power grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said he hoped many customers would see at least partial service restored by later Wednesday or Thursday. 

Problems first began with Winter Storm Uri – a brutal weather system that is sweeping the country. Every other state in the storm’s path has been able to withstand it because they operate on a shared power source which means that if one state’s supply goes down, it can draw from the shared reserve. 

But furious Texans now want to know why the state’s infrastructure wasn’t properly prepared, especially after a similar storm in 2011 caused the same problems. The Texas Tribune reports that not all of the generators in the state were upgraded after 2011 to tackle the issue. 

Jeff Dennis, managing director of Advanced Energy Economy, said: ‘Where did those recommendations go, and how were they implemented? Those are going to be some pretty key questions.’ 

The upgrades are what’s called ‘winterizing’ the energy system but experts say it is regularly put off because the changes are expensive. Texas’ deregulated energy market gives little financial incentives for operators to prepare for the rare bout of intensely cold weather, an issue critics have been pointing out for years.  

On top of genuine outrage, there was plenty of ridicule of the Senator. Some compared him to NJ Gov Chris Christie who closed the state's beaches in 2017 during a budget shutdown to then visit the beach with his family

On top of genuine outrage, there was plenty of ridicule of the Senator. Some compared him to NJ Gov Chris Christie who closed the state’s beaches in 2017 during a budget shutdown to then visit the beach with his family

Eric Bennis sits with his children inside a furniture store which opened as a shelter Wednesday in Houston; Millions in Texas still had no power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity

Eric Bennis sits with his children inside a furniture store which opened as a shelter Wednesday in Houston; Millions in Texas still had no power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity

People wait in line to fill propane tanks Wednesday in Houston. Customers had to wait over an hour in the freezing rain to fill their tanks

People wait in line to fill propane tanks Wednesday in Houston. Customers had to wait over an hour in the freezing rain to fill their tanks

Leonel Solis and Estefani Garcia use their car to heat their home in East Dallas area of Dallas on Wednesday. The couple, who lost power on Sunday, have been using electricity from a neighbor's generator and heat from their car to stay warm

Leonel Solis and Estefani Garcia use their car to heat their home in East Dallas area of Dallas on Wednesday. The couple, who lost power on Sunday, have been using electricity from a neighbor’s generator and heat from their car to stay warm

Water pressure has fallen across the state because lines have frozen, and many residents are leaving faucets dripping in hopes of preventing pipes from freezing, said Toby Baker, executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to shut off water to their homes, if possible, to prevent more busted pipes and preserve pressure in municipal systems.  

Travel remains ill-advised in much of the United States, with roadways treacherous and thousands of flights canceled.  

There are also delays to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and many doses that were being stored are under threat because the freezers storing them can’t operate without power. 

And there are also fears that without any new gas becoming available soon, prices are about to skyrocket by as much as 20 cents per gallon. 

Texas’ perfect storm: How the Lone Star state’s independent electric grid, shoddy winter infrastructure and ‘wild west’ approach to energy regulation left millions in the cold 

Millions of people in Texas awoke on Wednesday without heat again, as catastrophic power failures continued to plague the state following a historic winter storm that has killed 23 people so far.  

A week of below-freezing temperatures has knocked about a third of the state’s generating capacity offline, resulting in the greatest forced blackout in U.S. history and exposing the weaknesses of Texas’ unique approach to power grid management.

Experts blame Texas’ independent energy grid, which avoids regulation in favor of market incentives, for allowing generators to shirk preparations for a once-in-a-decade winter storm.

Texas is the only contiguous state with its own power grid, meaning it is not linked to other states and so cannot borrow power from them.

It’s a ‘Wild West market design based only on short-run prices,’ Matt Breidert, a portfolio manager at a firm called TortoiseEcofin, told the Washington Post. 

Nearly 3 million people in Texas were without power early Wednesday, including 1.4 million people in the Houston metropolitan area. A quarter of homes in Dallas were dark. 

Though some have blamed the catastrophe on frozen wind turbines, the power grid in Texas relies heavily on natural gas, responsible for nearly half the electricity generated.    

Alone among the contiguous states, Texas maintains its own power grid that does not cross state lines, in order to avoid federal regulation. It is called the Texas Interconnection

Alone among the contiguous states, Texas maintains its own power grid that does not cross state lines, in order to avoid federal regulation. It is called the Texas Interconnection

Wind shutdowns accounted less than 13 percent of the 30 to 35 gigawatts of total outages, said Dan Woodfin, a senior director at the state’s grid operator. 

Poor winter infrastructure in Texas has brought the natural gas system grinding to a halt, with drilling fluid freezing in gas pipes, frozen wellheads unable to produce, and diesel-fueled pumps refusing to start. 

Even coal plants went offline as coal piles were frozen to the ground, and one of the two reactors of the South Texas Nuclear Power Station had to be shut down after the cooling pumps froze.

While similar facilities in the Northern states are equipped to handle extended temperatures below freezing, Texas, which hasn’t experienced a similar cold snap in a decade, simply didn’t have the infrastructure in place to weather the storm. 

As the state’s electrical supply plunged, demand soared to levels normally only seen during the hottest summer days. Texans, many in poorly insulated homes, were trying desperately to keep warm, plugging in electric heaters and cranking up their thermostats.

The result was an epic crisis of supply unable to meet demand. In other states, broad regional power grids allow states to tap into their neighbors’ generating supply during a crisis, but Texas is unique.   

Alone among the contiguous states, Texas maintains its own power grid that does not cross state lines, in order to avoid federal regulation. 

Called the Texas Interconnection, the grid is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) — the system operator that has faced heavy backlash for the planning failures that led to the catastrophe.

Even as its own projections showed a crisis in the making last week, ERCOT has been accused of downplaying the issue and failing to properly warn Texans of impending widespread outages.

On Monday, ERCOT sent out a tweet urging people not to do laundry on Valentine’s Day to conserve energy — a measure some viewed as inadequate in proportion to the crisis.  

People seeking shelter from below freezing temperatures rest inside a church warming center Tuesday in Houston. Millions in Texas still had no power on Wednesday

People seeking shelter from below freezing temperatures rest inside a church warming center Tuesday in Houston. Millions in Texas still had no power on Wednesday

ERCOT officials still can’t say when power will be restored. ‘I know it’s frustrating we can’t offer a time certain, but it’s a process we’re engaged in to get the grid back in balance,’ ERCOT chief executive officer Bill Magness said during a news conference Tuesday. 

Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston, said the problem was a lack of weatherized power plants and a statewide energy market that doesn’t incentivize companies to generate electricity when demand is low. 

In Texas, demand peaks in August, at the height of the state’s sweltering summers.

He rejected that the storm went beyond what ERCOT could have anticipated.

‘That’s nonsense. It’s not acceptable,’ Hirs said. ‘Every eight to 10 years we have really bad winters. This is not a surprise.’ 

The outages are the widest Texas’ grid has suffered but hardly a first in winter. 

A decade ago, another deep February freeze created power shortages in Texas the same week the Super Bowl was played in Arlington. A federal report later flagged failures in the system, including power plants that are unable to stand up to extreme cold.

The latest breakdown sparked growing outrage and demands for answers over how Texas – whose Republican leaders as recently as last year taunted California over the Democratic-led state’s rolling blackouts – failed such a massive test of a major point of state pride: energy independence. 

And it cut through politics, as fuming Texans took to social media to highlight how while their neighborhoods froze in the dark Monday night, downtown skylines glowed despite desperate calls to conserve energy.

‘We are very angry. I was checking on my neighbor, she´s angry, too,’ said Amber Nichols, whose north Austin home has had no power since early Monday. ‘We´re all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods freezing to death.’

She crunched through ice wearing a parka and galoshes, while her neighbors dug out their driveways from six inches of snow to move their cars.

‘This is a complete bungle,’ she said.

The toll of the outages was causing increasing worry. Harris County emergency officials reported ‘several carbon monoxide deaths’ in or around Houston and reminded people not to operate cars or gasoline-powered generators indoors. 

Authorities said three young children and their grandmother, who were believed to be trying to keep warm, also died in a suburban Houston house fire early Tuesday. 

In Galveston, the medical examiner’s office requested a refrigerated truck to expand body storage, although County Judge Mark Henry said he didn’t know how many deaths there had been related to the weather.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott called for an investigation of the grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. His indignation struck a much different tone than just a day earlier, when he told Texans that ERCOT was prioritizing residential customers and that power was getting restored to hundreds of thousands of homes.

But hours after those assurances, the number of outages in Texas only rose, at one point exceeding 4 million customers. ‘This is unacceptable,’ Abbott said.

By late Tuesday afternoon, ERCOT officials said some power had been restored, but they warned that even those gains were fragile and more outages were possible.

The grid began preparing for the storm a week ahead of time, but it reached a breaking point early Monday as conditions worsened and knocked power plants offline, ERCOT president Bill Magness said. 

Some wind turbine generators were iced, but nearly twice as much power was wiped out at natural gas and coal plants. Forcing controlled outages was the only way to avert an even more dire blackout in Texas, Magness said.

‘What we’re protecting against is worse,’ he claimed.

On Tuesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Texas had requested 60 generators and that hospitals and nursing homes would get priority. 

Thirty-five warming shelters were opened to accommodate more than 1,000 people around the state, FEMA said during a briefing. But even they weren’t spared from the outages, as Houston was forced to close two on Monday because of a loss in power.

Ted Cruz jets off to Cancun while millions in Texas remain without power Source link Ted Cruz jets off to Cancun while millions in Texas remain without power

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