The Texas General Land Office plans to direct millions of dollars in disaster preparedness funds away from Gulf Coast counties hit by Hurricane Harvey to disproportionately whiter, inland counties, the Texas Tribune reports. The plan to steer funding to 29 politically conservative, less at-risk counties was put forward by Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who is currently in a republican primary campaign for state attorney general.
Two counties where Harvey made landfall, and a third where rainfall totals were highest, have received zero funds. The approach virtually ensures those less disaster-vulnerable counties will end up with twice to four times more money per person than coastal counties. This is consistent with other entrenched racist power structures using disasters to exacerbate societal and racial inequities.
“It’s weird to think about disasters as one of the fundamental mechanisms widening social disparity in the United States, but they are,” said Kevin Smiley, an LSU sociology professor whose research has focused on Harvey recovery. “And it’s through nitty-gritty governmental processes that are disbursing mitigation funds that are partly doing it.”
Grid survives May heat
The Texas electrical grid survived what its operator described as “unseasonably hot weather driving record demand” over the weekend, but details show signs for concern with summer heat still to come, Utility Dive reports. Six power plants were forced offline, taking down 2,900 MW of electricity supply as ERCOT asked residents to conserve power. “The failure of the grid and skyrocketing energy bills well before peak summertime demand is a preview of what’s to come if Texas continues to invest in more unreliable fossil fuel assets,” Michael Lee, CEO of renewable power supplier Octopus Energy said in a statement. (Funding: Texas Tribune; Grid: Utility Dive; Climate Signals background: Hurricane Harvey)