Winter weather hit the country hard, but years of neglecting critical infrastructure led to the power outages in Texas and other states. We can’t let it happen again.
On Tuesday, I wrote about the electricity outages here in Texas. Although they happened because of the frigid winter weather — temperatures reached the single digits throughout the state at one point — the power went out because the state failed for years to properly upgrade its electric grid.
This was a disaster waiting to happen, and it certainly is a disaster.
At one point, more than 4.4 million people in the Lone Star State were without electricity or heat. Water pipes continue to burst at homes and businesses. Several cities are now facing disruptions to their water supply. Some hospitals, already nearing capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are having to evacuate patients.
Dozens of people are dead.
As much as some lawmakers might want to, we can no longer run from this problem. It is past time for the United States to invest to rebuild our crumbling, failing infrastructure.
I sent an email to Alliance for American Manufacturing supporters earlier today about the need to invest in infrastructure, which is copied below. Please take a moment to read it, and please join me in urging the White House and your Members of Congress to get to work on rebuilding America.
This work can’t wait any longer.
I’m writing you from my home in Dallas, where the temperature is 27 degrees and there’s several inches of snow on the ground. Not exactly typical Texas weather.
But I’m lucky. My family and I have electricity and heat. Millions of my fellow Texans went without power for days, and hundreds of thousands of them still don’t have their lights on.
It didn’t have to be like this. While we are seeing unusual weather in Texas, the electric grid here also hasn’t received updates it has needed for years. As one expert put it, the grid “limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”
And it’s not just Texas. States like Oregon, Kentucky and Louisiana also are seeing power outages right now. California faced similar struggles last year.
These are the real world consequences of America’s failure to modernize its infrastructure. Now it’s time to learn from our mistakes and get to work.
It’s hard to understate how bad America’s infrastructure has gotten. The national electric grid, for example, gets a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). But the rest of our infrastructure is also in terrible shape, from bridges and roads to water systems and pipelines to schools, ports, railways, airports and more.
The outages this week aren’t the first time we’ve seen the devastation of inaction, either. When two dams broke in Midland, Michigan last year, for example, 1,700 homes were damaged or outright destroyed.
Then there was the collapse of the I-35 Mississippi River Bridge in Minnesota in 2007, which killed 13 people and injured 135 others. It can happen again: There were more than 56,000 structurally deficient bridges in the United States in 2016, according to the ASCE.
But there is good news.
The crisis in Texas this week once again is highlighting the consequences of inaction. But every crisis also yields opportunity.
Investing in America’s infrastructure will provide a shot in the arm into our economy, which continues to struggle in the wake of COVID-19. Millions of new jobs will be created by rebuilding infrastructure, and we’ll maximize our investment by applying Buy America preferences to ensure this work takes place in the United States.
Alliance for American Manufacturing