What They Are Saying: Frigid Temperatures in Texas, Across the Country Show Urgent Need for Bold Infrastructure Plan

Washington, D.C. – Since Sunday, unprecedented freezing temperatures have left millions of Texans and across the country without heat or power – underscoring the urgent need for bold infrastructure investment to update America’s failing power grid and invest in clean energy. It’s a fact that the extreme weather conditions gripping the country are fueled by the climate crisis and without a transformative investment in infrastructure and a clean energy economy, these crises will only continue to put communities in danger.

National leaders, political figures, climate experts, and activists recognize how these climate change-powered storms are a warning sign for the country and are publicly pushing for President Joe Biden’s plan to build back better to create a modern, sustainable infrastructure and a clean energy future.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

U.S. Senator from Delaware Tom Carper: “‘Part of building back better is making our infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather like ice storms. Who is ready to work together and make that a reality?” [The Hill, 2/16/2021]

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don’t* pursue a Green New Deal. Weak on sweeping next-gen public infrastructure investments, little focus on equity so communities are left behind, climate deniers in leadership so they don’t long prepare for disaster. We need to help people *now.* Long-term we must realize these are the consequences of inaction.” [Twitter, 2/17/2021]

Representative Sean Casten of Illinois: “We need to think how our overall infrastructure can accommodate increasingly uncommon events.” [Politico,2/16/2021]

Political Commentator and News Anchor Chris Hayes: “This is an awful situation. It’s driven by a complex confluence of factors, from extreme weather to an electric infrastructure that’s been woefully underdeveloped to the idiosyncrasies of Texas’ aggressively deregulated and independent energy market. […] ‘there’s no reason we can’t “create a modern energy infrastructure that is more resilient to climate change and also cheaper and also serves people better,” Hayes concluded that the “biggest obstacle will be these charlatans who will take every opportunity to lie to people for profit and for power.” [Daily Beast, 2/17/2021]

White House Spokesman Vedant Patel: “Building resilient and sustainable infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather and a changing climate will be playing an integral role in creating millions of good-paying, union jobs, creating a clean energy economy and meeting the president’s goal of reaching a net-zero emissions future by 2050.” [NBC News, 2/17/2021]

Nominee For Secretary Of The Department Of Energy Jennifer Granholm: “One thing is certain: America’s electricity grid is simply not able to handle extreme weather events.  Whether it’s wildfires in California or snowstorms in Texas, we need to upgrade our grid infrastructure ASAP.” [Twitter, 2/17/2021]

American Society of Civil Engineers Executive Director Tom Smith:  “‘We had I think 22 separate $1 billion disaster events, whether it’s wildfires, cyclones or severe storms or droughts. And the dollars we are spending are very significant.” “If we spend upfront, it will save us in the long-run. In fact, you can leverage that money — every dollar can save you six dollars on the backend if we mitigate these things upfront and stop being reactive and more proactive, including in Texas.’ […] We’re learning now what is our tolerance for risk. As we see more extreme weather events, whether it’s heat, cold, or a seismic storm we really have to recognize that we need to be prepared. We need infrastructure that is resilient, but we also need infrastructure that is sustainable.” [Yahoo Finance, 2/16/2021]

Managing Director of Advanced Energy Economy Jeff Dennis: “One of the best things we can do to address a variety of challenges to the grid is build a lot more of that transmission and delivery infrastructure to move resources around from where they’re available to where they are needed.” [Bloomberg, 2/17/2021]

Head of the American Clean Power Association Heather Zichal: The outages in Texas are “an extreme weather problem, not a clean power problem.” “If anything, it shows why we need to be investing in building out more renewable energy sources with better transmission and storage to replace outdated systems.”’ [Bloomberg, 2/17/2021]

Executive Director of WIRES Larry Gasteiger: “Climate change is continuing to have a serious impact on the electric system.” “We are seeing more and more frequent extreme weather events.”’ [Bloomberg, 2/17/2021]

EXPERTS AGREE

CEO American Council On Renewable Energy Greg Wetstone: “It’s time for Congress to pass an ambitious infrastructure initiative aimed at expanding and upgrading America’s grid.” [Politico, 2/16/2021]

Global Energy Policy Research Scholar at Columbia University Melissa Lott: “‘It’s affecting every piece of the supply chain. It’s not just wires; it’s not just pipelines; it’s not just power plants — it’s the whole thing.” “And if we want to prevent this from happening in the future, we’re going to have to think how we reinvest in the system to make it stronger, more resilient, and more reliable.’” [E&E, 2/17/2021]

Electrical Engineering Professor at Columbia University Matthias Preindl: “Experts have long called for upgrading grid systems to make them more efficient and more resilient to the extreme weather events likely to become more common due to climate change and to guard against increasing cyberattacks. ‘Many things that need to be done at every level to make the grid more resilient.’ [The Hill, 2/16/2021]

Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M University Thomas Overbye: ‘Recent climate reports all point to direction that as temperatures increase weather events are going to get more and more extreme.’ […] ‘It’s just a question of how much we invest in infrastructure that can handle cold weather.” [The Hill, 2/16/2021]

Infrastructure Expert at Georgia Tech Emily Grubert: “This is going to be a significant challenge. We need to decarbonize our power systems so that climate change doesn’t keep getting worse, but we also need to adapt to changing conditions at the same time. And the latter alone is going to be very costly. We can already see that the systems we have today aren’t handling this very well.” [New York Times, 2/16/2021]

The jobs of the future are here NOW. This is our moment to act on climate change and build a clean energy economy that creates millions of good-paying jobs.

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