Hurricane Ida’s wrath is a disaster no one wanted to witness or experience, bringing widespread flooding and wind damage, destruction of homes and businesses, and loss of life. Compounding these problems are power grid failures like those in New Orleans. These failures during natural disasters remain a major challenge — leading to further tragedy and impeding and prolonging recovery efforts. It’s an eerie reminder of what Houston experienced just months ago and yet another wake-up call for us to invest in our country’s infrastructure.
Texas’ electric grid failures during February’s winter storm left millions without power and caused more than 700 to lose their lives, many freezing to death in their homes. This was avoidable, and we must push all of our elected officials to do everything possible to prevent it from happening again — not just here in Texas, but across America.
We have an opportunity right now to make bold investments in our country’s infrastructure, including our power grid. The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The House must too. And both the House and Senate must pass a budget plan furthering support for these urgent needs. Recent polling shows a majority of voters support both the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as well as the $3.5 trillion budget proposal.
Experts have shown natural disasters are exacerbated by climate change, and the United States continues to experience stronger, more frequent storms. Recent storms have proven our current infrastructure cannot stand up to Mother Nature, and these storms will continue to devastate our communities until we, as a nation, improve our power grid.
Developing a more resilient and clean power grid will not just help mitigate destruction from storms, it will boost the economy, clean up our environment, and improve public health. Here in Texas, the clean energy transition has the potential to create 1.1 million jobs. Building out clean energy sources will reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels which will reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. Cleaner air will translate to better health outcomes for communities suffering from exposure to industrial pollution.
It’s time for the United States to invest in our future and modernize our electric grid. As the Harris County Democratic Party Chair, I’m proud of Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher and the entire county Democratic Congressional delegation. They continually express their commitment to addressing the root causes of extreme weather plaguing our communities. Severe storms are inevitable, so neglecting to act now will only condemn Americans to suffer as we’ve seen in Louisiana, Texas, and countless other regions on the Gulf Coast and beyond. Reinforcing our electric grid will make us a stronger, more prepared nation. It’s time to go bold on infrastructure, Congress.
Odus Evbagharu is the Harris County Democratic Party Chair