After millions of Texans languished during historic winter storms and disastrous power outages, and after the state nearly fell into a far more devastating catastrophe, one of the state’s top officials is urging citizens to act.

In a fiery email over the weekend, with the subject line “Texas was 4 minutes away from death,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller described the total ruin citizens barely avoided and called out government officials for their failure to manage the core functions of the state.

“On February 15th, Texas came within 4 minutes and 37 seconds of a complete collapse of the power system. If that had happened, we would have been thrown into a pre-industrial revolution world without power, fuel, internet, cars, running water, grocery stores, cell phones, or any of the other necessities required to support almost 30 million people and the world’s ninth largest economy,” wrote Miller.

“Given the tremendous costs of the blackouts we did endure, imagine the chaos, misery, and death that would have resulted from months of being cut off from modern life,” he continued. “Imagine the riots. Imagine the carnage in hospitals and nursing homes. Imagine the famine as millions of people went without food or clean water. Imagine the disease as human waste piled up, untreatable and not disposable.”

“It would have been a world changing event that would have seen millions of desperate people migrate from Texas for the safety and security of other states and nations as potentially millions more died miserable, preventable deaths,” Miller added. “And it would have all been laid at the feet of Governor Greg Abbott.”

Miller called the failure a “system-wide disaster,” one “overseen by the state government, the Public Utilities Commission, and ERCOT [the state’s now highly derided power grid management agency].”

In the fallout of the storms and outages, politicians and government officials have been busy pointing fingers—some at ERCOT for their mishandling of the emergency situation, some at Republican state lawmakers for refusing for years to pass proposed electrical grid protections, and some at Gov. Abbott for his role in spending billions of taxpayer dollars on unreliable green energy rather than strengthening the core electrical grid.

“The resignations of the out-of-state ERCOT board members was a necessary start,” Miller wrote, “but it was only a pebble thrown into the raging river of systemic failures that Texas must dam to account for this massive calamity, renew Texans’ faith in our government and public service providers, and provide accountability to those that failed us so spectacularly.”

Milled concluded it’s “up to all of us” to remind politicians whom they are supposed to serve.

“The fact that we came within 4 minutes and 37 seconds of being impoverished beyond even what we see in the world’s poorest and most mismanaged nations should shock and appall the sensibilities of every Texan,” he said.

“This is a call to every Texan to stand up, speak up, and demand that far more than five heads at ERCOT roll. Accountability starts at the top.”

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.

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