Biden Official Says Texas Storm Shows Infrastructure Need.
The Biden administration said it will work with states and business to make infrastructure more resilient after a winter storm led to widespread power outages in Texas.
“Climate change is real and it’s happening now and we’re not adequately prepared for it,” said Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Biden’s homeland security adviser who briefed reporters on a Thursday conference call.
She said the administration is working to “build the kind of resilient critical infrastructure we will depend on in the future.”
President Joe Biden is receiving multiple updates a day on the federal response to the storm that caused the power disruptions and prompted rolling blackouts, said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. The outages pose an early test for how well the administration is prepared to respond to natural disasters that have highlighted shortcomings under previous presidents.
“The president’s focus is on ensuring that the millions of people or the many, many people across these states that are impacted are receiving the relief and assistance they need,” Psaki said.
In Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided 60 generators, 729,000 liters of water, 10,000 wool blankets and 225,000 meals, according to Sherwood-Randall.
Millions of Texans have been without power. By late Thursday morning, the number of blacked-out customers was down to about 500,000 from more than 4 million two days earlier, according to PowerOutage.us.
Asked about Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order restricting the flow of natural gas across state lines in an attempt to direct the fuel to the state’s power plants, Sherwood-Randall said: “This is an authority that is a state authority.”
She added that the administration is “in discussion with our Mexican partners as well as with the state officials around the decision that the state officials are taking.”
— With assistance by Mario Parker
(Updates with Psaki comments starting in fourth paragraph. An earlier version of this story misstated Sherwood-Randall’s job title.)
18 February 2021