DALLAS — Watch the full interview with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the video above.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sat down for an interview Wednesday to discuss the state lifting the COVID-19 restrictions and what’s next after the disastrous winter storm.
Patrick said he agrees with the governor’s decision to re-open the state.
“We’ve been open more than most states and I think we’ve proven that we can do two things at once, and that is protect the public and also keep our economy moving,” Patrick said. “I think the combination of the numbers are tailing off and the vaccinations are increasing, particularly with our most vulnerable population, makes this very doable.”
There are also major disagreements across the state about Texas dropping the mask mandate.
“I think the timing is right. I’m not a mandate person. I believe that you give people the information and let them make decisions about their own lives,” Patrick said. “We’re not telling people not to wear masks, we’re still recommending a social distance, and if you feel comfortable wearing a mask, wear a mask.”
Despite news about Texas reopening, Patrick remains focused on solutions after the storm.
“I’m personally taking responsibility to fix this and we’re going to get it done,” he said.
So far, he requested and received a resignation from the state’s head utility regulator and he says ERCOT’s CEO Bill Magness is next.
“He’s going to be out one way or the other, one way or the other,” Patrick said. “If he does not step down on his own, we may have to re-constitute the entire board to make that happen.”
Patrick identified issues with preparation and communication. He says a change in leadership is a must.
“I don’t want to go into the hottest days of summer or another winter next year with the same people who were in charge, and get the same thing,” Patrick said. “We’ve got to change preparation and planning and communication.”
Patrick noted several issues with the current leadership.
- They told the governor before the storm that they were prepared and Patrick says they were not.
- Patrick learned in testimony that they had 14,000 megawatts down for maintenance. The maintenance scheduled for February should take place later in the year, he said.
- Patrick says the leadership assumed they’d get 12,000 to 15,000 megawatts of power from wind and solar, and he says they were getting less than 5,000.
- He says in West Texas and other parts of the state, they actually turned off some power that was generating the gas to the plants to create the energy.
- Statewide communication indicated this would be nothing more than "brown-outs." Patrick says leadership needed to come forward right away alerting Texans that they may be without power for a day or more.
Some believe the state’s reopening announcement is hoping to take the attention away from the storm.
“Probably Democrats saying that,” Patrick said. “I don’t believe anything was connected, and in fact had we not had the winter storm I think the governor may have made this announcement last week. We can do more than one thing at a time.”
“Both of these are very big issues,” Patrick said. “Dealing with COVID and dealing with the storm are very big issues so I don’t see a connection and whatever the political pundits what to say is up to them.”