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Gavin Newsom on Texas Energy: "They Doubled Down on Stupid"

Newsweek 9/22/2022 Robyn White
Newsom is pictured talking at the the United Nations Climate Action: Race to Zero and Resilience Forum conference. © Monica Schipper Newsom is pictured talking at the the United Nations Climate Action: Race to Zero and Resilience Forum conference.

Gavin Newsom has spoken out about Texas' energy policies, claiming they "doubled down on stupid."

The governor of California made the comments in conversation with Bloomberg television editor at large Francine Lacqua at the United Nations Climate Action: Race to Zero and Resilience Forum conference in New York on September 21.

The democrat began by speaking about California's initiatives to reduce carbon neutrality goals.

Newsom has just signed a landmark package of bills outlining numerous goals that require the state to massively ramp up efforts to tackle climate change. These include the guarantee that all gas-powered cars will be banned by 2035.

"It's noble and it's a noble cause. Will you be able to keep the lights on? Because infrastructure needs a lot of electricity for everything you want to do," Lacqua said in response.

"Well, look what happened in Texas last year. I mean, they doubled down on stupid," Newsom said in response.

"Coal, natural gas, three days they couldn't keep the damn lights on, $100 plus billion economic damage. Hundreds of people died. Ten times the amount of gigawatts were impacted, four times the number of households. I mean, that's the question to ask. Why the hell are they doubling down on the policies that grind those conditions when we actually survive?"

Press secretary for Texas Governor Greg Abbot, Renae Eze told Newsweek in a statement: "It's ironic that Governor Newsom is attacking the national leader in energy days after he barely avoided statewide blackouts."

In 2021, Texas suffered a huge power crisis when severe winter storms hit the state. Millions of homes were left without power, many without water, food and heat.

At the time Abbot blamed frozen wind turbines and solar panels for the power outage. Many others also blamed green energy sources for the crisis. But according to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas wind energy provided about 25 percent of Texas' overall power throughout the year, while natural gas sources account for 35 percent.

Further investigations showed that the power crisis was actually the result of power sources not being sufficiently protected and winterized.

The Texas government continues to sign legislation that protects the use of fossil fuels, in particular oil. Texas is the largest oil-producing state in the country. In May 2021, the state attempted to protect its oil and gas industry from Wall Street initiatives to curb the use of fossil fuels.

It is not the first time Newsom has criticized Texas energy policies. In August, he made a a speech addressing critics who slammed California's renewable energy initiatives amid an ongoing heatwave that is putting the power grid under pressure.

Newsom pointed to Republican-led Texas' ongoing use of coal, saying it is "making conditions worse" and "exacerbating the very conditions they're trying to mitigate in terms of their energy reliability." He pointed to the Texas power crisis as an example.

Newsom told Lacqua that California survived the severe winter conditions in 2021 thanks to installed battery storage.

"Our largest power plant in the state of California is batteries, close to 4000 megawatts," he said. "And we're just getting started. That is 1500 percent more megawatts than we had just two-and-a-half years ago.

"We're just winding up. The opportunities are endless. The abundance of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit that's behind that is something we want to capture, we want to dominate in this next global industry.

"We are not interested in the failed policies, recreating the 19th century and the compare and contrast with California, and our policies and our acceleration in this space versus all these other states is going to be a sight to see over the next few decades."

Newsom said that California's ambitious policies do not come without challenges, especially amid the ongoing mega-drought, which has impacted its megawatts.

"We had 125 degree temperatures in California, just this month. Extreme heat, extreme drought, extreme weather. The drought leading to a reduction in megawatts, mega droughts impact megawatts…The extreme heat that's led to an unprecedented number of people dying," he said.

"What's happening with the status quo, makes me a hell of a lot more nervous…I think, look, if there's one thing that California is doing, it's moving from ambition to action."

Update 9/23/22, 3:27 a.m ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from Greg Abbott's office.

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