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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to resolve outstanding power outages on the fourth day of a statewide energy crisis that has since spawned a related water crisis and threatens to create a natural gas crisis.
"We will not stop until normalcy is restored to your lives," Abbot said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, officials at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which maintains about 90% of the state's grid, said they were no longer mandating power outages and had instructed local utilities to begin restoring power to impacted customers. Around 325,000 customers across the state are still facing outages, which Abbott said were likely due to local, weather-related problems that will require on-site repairs rather than outage mandates from ERCOT.
Austin Energy crews are in the process of restoring power and have made significant progress since Wednesday afternoon, when around 27% of its customers were impacted. As of 4:02 p.m. Thursday, about two-thirds of those have had their power restored.
Although the power crisis is improving, an increasing number of Texans are now facing a water crisis. Major cities including Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth, among others, have issued boil water notices. Tens of thousands of Austin residents don't have access to water at all, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said Wednesday, and service restoration will be "a multi-day process."
Abbott said he is working on executive orders and waivers to address the twin crises, as well as meeting with organizations that may be able to help provide clean water to impacted residents.
Austin officials said Thursday that they have ordered bottled water from out of state, given the demand from other Texas municipalities, but it will take time for it to be delivered and distributed to those in need. In the meantime, Meszaros recommended the residents without water (or without the power to boil it) reach out to friends and neighbors who may be able to share.
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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."