Last month, Texas was hit by a series of severe winter storms. The resulting polar vortex left more than four and half million Texans without power and water. Some for several days. Some still are without water. The death toll across the state has exceeded 100 people.
Texas’s power grid is independent of the rest of the country’s. It’s governed by a corrupt body called the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). ERCOT is rooted in decades of privatization and the rollback of oversight and deregulation of Texas utility markets. Deregulation is what led to the power crisis. This deregulation has benefited Texas’s wealthy elite, oil companies, private utilities, but not the low-income, Black and Brown communities throughout the state.
Communities already struggling at the intersection of economic and environmental injustice were hit the hardest by the Texas power crisis. Neighborhoods surrounding Houston’s complex of oil refineries and petro-chemical plants were subjected to additional pollutants when the complexes had to shut down during the winter power outages. A lack of essential services pushes them further to economic precarity.
We’re also cross-promoting an episode of the Green and Red Podcast. This interview features environmental justice organizer Bryan Parras from Houston, Texas. So please listen and hear about the root causes of the environmental and economic injustice in Houston’s “petro metro”.
Environmental justice demands that we ask what kind of world we want to live in, and is as much a social issue as an environmental one. Our practice, as part of a movement to build a livable future, is to empower marginalized communities and to dismantle the systems of oppression that keep us divided. As part of that, Rising Tide supports mutual aid efforts in the wake of disasters like the Texas winter crisis.
So, we’re asking you to donate and support the mutual aid and community organizations that continue to support those hit hardest by the power outages. It’s been almost a month since the storm, the lights aren’t on and the water is still not running for everyone.
Here’s a list of mutual aid links in Texas that need support: