Abbott Gives President Half-Hearted Thanks
after Vow to Undermine Biden Climate Plans

Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside
February 20, 2021

Governor Greg Abbott ran the risk of alienating voters across the political spectrum on Saturday when he expressed a watered-down debt of gratitude to Democratic President Joe Biden for coming to the state's aid in the winter freeze fiasco less than a month after declaring rhetorical war against the new administration.

"I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state," Abbott said in a statement this afternoon. "While this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need. The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage.”

The president who'd Abbott berated with false and exaggerated claims issued a Major Disaster Declaration that the Republican governor had requested for the entire Lone Star State without conditions. But Biden restricted individual emergency relief to the state's largest 77 counties that were hardest hit by the blackouts, food shortages and water outages that continued into the weekend in parts of the state's biggest cities.

Biden had been in office for a week when Abbott portrayed him as the mastermind of a conspiracy designed to kill the Texas oil and gas industry. Abbott ordered state agencies to spend resources searching for reasons to file lawsuits against the Biden White House in an attempt to sabotage the new president's plans for fighting climate change.

Abbott explained the benefits to the state under the Biden decree in an emergency meeting on Saturday with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and a group of nine influential legislators including three Democrats. Phelan and Patrick are Republicans like Abbott.

The governor indicated that the focus of the discussion had been shocking surges in electricity charges that are starting to show up on consumer accounts.

“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages," Abbott said. "Today’s meeting was productive, and I applaud Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”

Abbott, however, didn't bring up the state Senate investigation that Patrick launched on Friday into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the utilities that run it independently from state government with minimal oversight by the state. Patrick vowed to get to the bottom of the disaster that's dominated the national news for the past six days.

The Texas ice storm has been Abbott's worst possible nightmare from a political future perspective. The Republican governor has refused to accept his rightful share of responsibility - pointing fingers instead at the clean energy industry and the major electric utilities that control the power grid. Abbott's attempt to blame frozen windmills cratered amid revelations that cuts in natural gas production due to outdated technology had been the chief culprit for the catastrophe that's culminated in more than two dozens deaths in Texas with more to come.

Abbott committed an epic political blunder when he appeared on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News the night after the grid began to go down. Aside from the fact that Hannity has never been a legitimate journalist, Abbott's decision to make his first public statements on the disaster on Fox News gave the impression that he didn't care about the majority of people who he represents. Fox caters exclusively to the hard right with ratings that have plummeted in the wake of the riot at the U.S. Capitol that Donald Trump incited.

The Biden disaster declaration freed up federal funding for individuals across the state for temporary housing assistance, home repairs and discount loans for property damage that isn't covered by insurance. losses.

The Texas counties that qualify for individual assistance from FEMA initially are Angelina, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Falls, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson, and Wise.

The only two Texas metros that didn't make the list - Midland and Ector - could have conceivably been casualties of Abbott's beligerence at a press conference on January 28 in Odessa where he claimed that the Biden administration was on a mission to kill the fossil fuels business. The governor and his big-giving allies in the oil patch could be getting a lesson in the irony of self-fullfilling prophecy.

"I am in Midland to make clear that Texas is going to protect the oil and gas industry from any type of hostile attack from Washington, D.C.," Abbott said at CUDD Energy Services. "Texas is not going to stand idly by and watch the Biden administration kill jobs in Midland, in Odessa or any other place across the entire region."





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