Kate Galbraith Reporter

Kate Galbraith has covered energy and environment for the Tribune since 2010. Previously she reported on clean energy for The New York Times from 2008 to 2009, serving as the lead writer for the Times' Green blog. She began her career at The Economist in 2000 and spent 2005 to 2007 in Austin as the magazine's Southwest correspondent. A Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University from 2007 to 2008, she has an undergraduate degree in English from Harvard and a master's degree from the London School of Economics. She is co-author of The Great Texas Wind Rush, a book about how the oil and gas state won the race to wind power.

Recent Contributions

West Explosion Raises Regulatory Questions

Chief of DPS Emergency Management Nim Kidd, r, answers a question on the West, TX explosion on April 18, 2013.  Left to right are TCEQ head Zac Covar, Gov. Rick Perry, Kidd and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Chief of DPS Emergency Management Nim Kidd, r, answers a question on the West, TX explosion on April 18, 2013. Left to right are TCEQ head Zac Covar, Gov. Rick Perry, Kidd and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

As investigators search for the cause of the explosion, environmentalists said that the situation highlighted lax regulations in Texas for plants handling dangerous chemicals — especially those located near schools.

House Acting on Recalled Disclosure Bill

Sen. Dan Patrick R-Houston, speaks during budget bill SB1 discussion on March 20th, 2013
Sen. Dan Patrick R-Houston, speaks during budget bill SB1 discussion on March 20th, 2013

UPDATED: The Texas House is moving ahead with a bill requiring disclosure of certain political donors despite an effort by the Senate to pull the legislation back. Meanwhile, the bill's author, Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said senators had been heavily lobbied to change their vote.

Energy Dollars Flow to Texas Politicians

State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland at the Energy Resources Committee on April 10, 2013.
State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland at the Energy Resources Committee on April 10, 2013.

Friendliness toward the drilling industry is typical in Texas, where many lawmakers receive campaign contributions from oil and gas groups or have investments in drilling companies.

Texas Senators Discuss Fracking Groundwater Rules

Field distribution water tank used in the fracking process of natural gas well drilling in DeWitt County, Texas, complete with life buoy and "No Swimming" sign.
Field distribution water tank used in the fracking process of natural gas well drilling in DeWitt County, Texas, complete with life buoy and "No Swimming" sign.

Should groundwater districts be allowed to require permits for drilling companies wanting to withdraw water for hydraulic fracturing? Oil companies oppose the idea, and on Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee debated the issue.

As Fracking Proliferates in Texas, So Do Disposal Wells

Dirty truck tire tracks in front of the hookups at a Gulf Coast run fracking fluid disposal well site near Gonzales, TX, Friday, March 22, 2013.
Dirty truck tire tracks in front of the hookups at a Gulf Coast run fracking fluid disposal well site near Gonzales, TX, Friday, March 22, 2013.
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As the water-intensive practice of fracking continues to spread, the amount of wastewater being buried in disposal wells around Texas has skyrocketed. But the wells bring concerns about truck traffic and the possibility of groundwater contamination. 

Bickering Erupts Among Texas Oil Regulators

The Texas Railroad Commission, comprised of Chairman Barry T. Smitherman (center), and commissioners David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) hold an open meeting in Austin, Texas on Jan. 15, 2013.
The Texas Railroad Commission, comprised of Chairman Barry T. Smitherman (center), and commissioners David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) hold an open meeting in Austin, Texas on Jan. 15, 2013.
  • 1Comment

A day before a major legislative hearing about the future of the Railroad Commission, interpersonal tensions between the three commissioners boiled over at an open meeting. The commissioners also voted to approve new rules to make recycling oilfield wastewater easier.

On Railroad Commission Campaign Finance, a Battle Looms

The Texas Railroad Commission, comprised of Chairman Barry T. Smitherman (center), and commissioners David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) hold an open meeting in Austin, Texas on Jan. 15, 2013.
The Texas Railroad Commission, comprised of Chairman Barry T. Smitherman (center), and commissioners David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) hold an open meeting in Austin, Texas on Jan. 15, 2013.
Texas Weekly

The three Texas Railroad Commissioners get their campaign coffers replenished by the industry they regulate, and lawmakers carrying the RRC Sunset legislation seem determined to make a change. The commissioners are equally determined to hold firm.