Marking one year since the tragic 2021 Texas Winter Storm Uri, CRES President Heather Reams joined U.S. Representative Michael Burgess M.D., (R-TX) on his podcast, “Doctor in The House,” and as his coauthor for a Houston Chronicle op-ed reflecting on the lessons learned from the Texas power crisis, the progress made to improve grid resiliency, and the current state of our domestic power supply.
Dr. Burgess—a senior member of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee—and Reams began discussing the Clean Air Act of 1970. Debated and crafted over eight months in the House Energy & Commerce Committee, this legislation is an example of the compromise and foresight needed for effective, long-lasting environmental solutions that hold industry accountable in a transparent manner.
“It’s important to come to not just the right economic conclusion, but what is the right conclusion for the country and for those that are going to come after us,”explained Dr. Burgess.
“We… want to have clean air, clean water, and we have the cleanest air and the cleanest water here in the United States, because we lead in innovation, we lead in technology, and we have the most rigorous environmental standards in the world,” concurred Reams.
The ability of the U.S. to monitor pollution levels and reward responsible innovation has positioned our nation as a world leader in energy development, technological advancements, and even as a net energy exporter.
“We haven’t heard about OPEC in at least four years, if not longer. Thinking about the shale revolution, natural gas, LNG, we do it cleaner here than anywhere else in the world,” Reams explained. “You look at some of our adversaries that are also creating LNG but don’t care about emissions, it’s dirtier—it has a longer life cycle for pollutants in the air.”
“ can produce the volumes of energy that are required, not only to power our own economy here at home, but to make available to export to our friends and allies around the globe so that they’re not dependent upon those sources that might have more authoritarian leaders,” Dr. Burgess added.
However, energy policy changes made by the Biden Administration in its first year have undermined this hard-won energy independence. The arbitrary bans on pipelines and domestic drilling and other short-sighted, unrealistic environmental restrictions imposed by the Administration have only served to strengthen less environmentally minded countries while having little impact on climate change.
“I think this is the evolving piece about energy, but right now we’re thinking about the resiliency of the grid, and maybe that’s something where we should be focusing instead of being energy dependent,” Reams added. “It just seems like we’re adding more problems onto our plate. We’re ceding the authority we’ve had and the supreme leadership to be an energy exporter.”
Looking ahead in the Lone Star State, significant changes were made to the two most important energy regulators in Texas—the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Public Utility Commission (PUC)—since the blackout. Additionally, the state legislature passed two bills to address grid reliability and Dr. Burgess cosponsored the Power On Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, which assists electricity providers and suppliers with federal funding to protect their facilities and infrastructure against future extreme weather events.
“Today , there’s what I call a modified stress test. Now, there were some improvements made to the grid, some thanks to the Power On Act. Some others will follow, but there’s a stress test going on, and we’ll see how the grid performs,” said Dr. Burgess, recounting changes made in the past year.
“So right now, so far, so good. But we’ve got to always be re-evaluating and learning because if we don’t, then the consequences are just a lot of people who are depending upon everything going right and nothing going wrong.”