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• Biden suspended a Trump order barring the use of Chinese electrical equipment in the U.S. power grid, pending a 90-day review. However, the prohibitions against Chinese equipment remain in place.
• There is no evidence that Chinese interference contributed to the power outage in Texas.
During a devastating winter blackout in Texas, a conservative group linked the outage to President Joe Biden, claiming that one of his executive orders gave the Chinese Communist Party access to the U.S. power grid.
"Joe Biden is handing our power grid to the Chinese Communist Party," tweeted the conservative activist group Students for Trump on Feb. 16.
The post also includes a quote by the group’s CEO, Charlie Kirk, which reads: "While thousands of Americans are without power because of a faulty energy infrastructure, this is your daily reminder that Joe Biden rescinded a Trump executive order banning Chinese involvement in our power grid."
Other social media users were even more explicit about attributing the Texas outage to Biden’s order.
"Anyone else concerned that 3 weeks ago Joe Biden signed an Executive Order giving China access to the US power grid for 90 days & now Texas and Minneapolis have no power or heat?" reads a tweet.
These tweets refer to the executive order on climate change policy that Biden signed on Jan. 20, 2021.
Is it accurate to say that the order granted China access to the U.S. power grid? No.
Biden’s executive order suspended a directive issued by former President Donald Trump that aimed to limit the use of electrical equipment manufactured by foreign adversaries, like China. However, under Biden’s executive order, the prohibitions against installing foreign utilities in the U.S. power grid remain in place.
We reached out to Kirk through his organization Turning Point USA, but we didn’t receive a response.
To secure the U.S. power grid from the threat of a cyberattack, Trump issued an executive order on May 1, 2020, called "Securing the United States Bulk-Power System." The order prohibited the use of electrical equipment "designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied, by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of" foreign entities such as China.
Under that order, Trump’s energy secretary, Dan Brouillette, issued a prohibition against U.S. utilities using Chinese electrical equipment.
After taking office in January 2021, Biden signed a flurry of executive orders rescinding Trump policies. One of them, dealing with climate change policy, suspended Trump’s May 1 order for 90 days.
During the 90-day suspension, the energy secretary and White House budget director are directed to take stock of Trump’s executive order and recommend whether to issue a replacement. (Biden’s nominee for budget director has not been confirmed.)
However, according to the Energy Department, the prohibitions on Chinese electrical equipment remain in place while the Trump order is reviewed.
"During this 90-day review period, Responsible Utilities will refrain from installation of bulk-power system electric equipment or programmable components… subject to foreign adversaries’ ownership, control, or influence," the agency wrote on an FAQ page on its website.
There is no evidence that Chinese interference shut down the Texas power grid, which is separate from the Eastern and Western grids that power every other state in the continental U.S.
Energy experts told us that many factors drove the outage, including a failure to winterize Texas’ energy infrastructure, despite years of warnings.
As a blast of Arctic air and wind battered the state, power plants not built to withstand the cold began to go offline just as freezing temperatures boosted demand for heating, said Sam Newell, an electricity expert at the Brattle Group, which has run detailed analyses of the Texas power grid.
As energy output dropped, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the Texas power grid, imposed rolling blackouts, causing power outages for millions of Texans.
Students for Trump claimed, "Joe Biden is handing our power grid to the Chinese Communist Party."
Biden suspended part of a Trump order forbidding the use of Chinese electrical equipment in the U.S. power grid. However, the prohibitions remain in place.
There is no evidence that Chinese interference caused the Texas power outage.
We rate this False.
Students for Trump, Tweet, Feb. 16, 2021
Nicola Charles, Tweet, Feb. 19, 2021
U.S. Department of Energy, Secretary of Energy signs order to mitigate security risks to the nation's electric grid, Dec. 17, 2020
U.S. Department of Energy, Securing the United States bulk-power system executive order, updated Feb. 9, 2021
Whitehouse.gov, Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis, Jan. 20, 2021
PolitiFact, How Joe Biden’s first executive orders compare with past presidents, Jan. 27, 2021
PolitiFact, Beto O’Rourke said Texas was warned for years about power grid, Feb. 19, 2021
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