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White House climate czar: Texas storm ‘a wake-up call’

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 27, 2021

In this Jan. 27, 2021 photo, National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington.  (Evan Vucci)
In this Jan. 27, 2021 photo, National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington. (Evan Vucci)
By Matthew Daly Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The deadly winter storm that caused widespread power outages in Texas and other states is a “wake-up call” for the United States to build energy systems and other infrastructure that are more reliable and resilient in the face of extreme-weather events linked to climate change, President Joe Biden’s national climate adviser says.

Gina McCarthy said Friday that the storm that devastated Texas and other states “is not going to be as unusual as people had hoped. It is going to happen, and we need to be as resilient and working together as much as possible. We need systems of energy that are reliable and resilient as well.’’

McCarthy said the scientific evidence is clear that more frequent and more dangerous storms are likely, “and if we really care about keeping our people working and keeping our kids healthy and giving them a future we’re proud of, then we’re not going to ignore these wake-up calls. We’re going to take action.’’

McCarthy’s comments came as Biden and his wife Jill were in Texas to survey damage caused by the storm, which caused millions of homes and business to lose heat and running water. At least 40 people in the state died.

“We need to envision a future and an optimistic way of giving people hope again – that we are building back better,’’ she said, using Biden’s slogan for a plan costing at least $2 trillion to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and create clean-energy jobs.

“It is a catchy phrase, but it also is a kind of optimistic rallying cry and I think we ought to heed it,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said she expects an “after-action” report on the Texas crisis and ways it can be avoided in the future. Many people were caught in frigid homes that lacked heat for days in subfreezing temperatures.

Texas is not connected to the rest of the nation’s power grid, and McCarthy said the storm may be reason to rethink that.

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