A generational winter storm has swept through Texas, putting immense stress on the state’s energy infrastructure as natural gas is in high demand. Comstock Haynesville, a natural gas company that Jerry Jones bought over a year ago, is taking advantage of Texas’ disaster to turn a huge profit. Typically, Comstock Haynesville will sell natural gas to the grid anywhere between $15.55 and $186 per 1 million BTUs (Standard energy unit measurement). Since Thursday, Comstock started pricing their gas at One Thousand Dollars per 1 million BTUs.
To understand the situation in Texas and the scope of Jerry Jones’ greed, we have to take a step back. Texas has its own grid, which means they have a level of energy independence from the rest of the country. They are the only state that has its own grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, relies primarily on natural gas, which makes up for 46% of the state’s energy consumption.
While the state of Texas does rely on other resources, natural gas is the lion’s share. Wind power accounts for 23% of the state’s energy usage. Coal accounts for 18% of energy consumption.
Anyway, Texas’ energy independence means they are not subject to federal regulation, which opens the door for the private sector to sell their energy to the state at exorbitant rates, which is what is happening with Comstock Haynesville and dozens of other companies.
While freezing temperatures sweep the state, energy demands are at an all-time high and the folks at Comstock Haynesville see the threat of death and widespread misery as a door for them to walk through and make massive profits. In the middle of one of the greatest natural disasters to ever hit Texas, Comstock Haynesville marked up their natural gas prices by more than 500%. This is Disaster Capitalism in its purest, most corrupt form.
The vacuum of a crisis, be it a vicious winter storm or a widespread pandemic, creates a strain on mass infrastructure while regular people need supplies to survive the disaster. This concept of Disaster Capitalism is when companies like Comstock Haynesville take advantage of this desperation instead of alleviating it. They know energy pricing during a disaster of this scale is inelastic and they will be able to turn a profit no matter how much they gouge the prices. What the grid has to do when faced with these prices is ration out the energy to reduce the public cost. The result is the ongoing blackouts that Texas has experienced.
Texas, already weakened by a pandemic that has killed over 41,000 people in the state, has to take on the dual-threat of Mother Nature and the greed of energy companies. The human damage of this winter storm is still unknown, but we do know that this disaster has made Jerry Jones even richer.
Helping From Afar
While the federal government, the state of Texas, and the various billion-dollar companies could do plenty to alleviate the lives of Texans, they haven’t. Here are some resources that can provide local relief to affected areas across the state. Let’s show the people of Texas some love and support from Eagles fans everywhere.
Feed the People Dallas: Dallas-based Mutual Aid organization that will provide food and essential goods to the most vulnerable people across Dallas.
Lucha Dallas: Another Dallas-based organization that specifically aids the BIPOC community.
Texas Jail Project: Jails in Texas experienced a mass death event due to coronavirus. Most of those who died were pre-trial incarcerations, meaning they hadn’t even been convicted of a crime. The jails across the state are currently without power and incarcerated people are uniquely vulnerable right now. TJP will pay bails and provide other resources to alleviate the harm done by this winter storm.
Austin Mutual Aid: Citywide mutual aid program that is working to provide food, space heaters, and blankets across Austin.
CrowdSource Rescue: Mutual aid organization that has been working in tandem with more local groups to distribute cash and resources across the state.