ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

An aerial view of fringe marshes around Powderhorn Lake.
An aerial view of fringe marshes around Powderhorn Lake.

Texas Buys Conservation Land With Oil Spill Money

Amid frustration that Texas has lagged behind in taking advantage of money that became available in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, state officials announced the largest conservation land purchase in Texas history. The state is buying 17,000 acres of undisturbed coastal prairie in Calhoun County.

John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.
John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.

Texas' Nuclear Waste Dump Gets Wiggle Room

UPDATED: Texas’ only radioactive waste site has permission to dramatically expand its capacity, take in new types of waste and reduce its financial liability should its owner suddenly close up shop.

 

 

Mugshot of Governor Rick Perry, booked on two felony counts at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, August 19, 2014.
Mugshot of Governor Rick Perry, booked on two felony counts at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, August 19, 2014.

The Brief: Aug. 20, 2014

Call it the frozen custard heard round the world. Gov. Rick Perry and his booking on two felony counts late Tuesday afternoon captured national attention — on social media, most of all.

The Boom at Rudkin Productions. The newspaper caters to bored oil workers in South Texas.
The Boom at Rudkin Productions. The newspaper caters to bored oil workers in South Texas.

Eagle Ford Sees Another Kind of Boom: Publishing

Drillers’ mad dash to the Eagle Ford has spurred a printing boom, as publishers court new advertisers and audiences — including industry executives, natives of transformed communities and oil workers with little to do in isolated towns.

Texas' Nuclear Waste Dump Gets Wiggle Room

John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.
John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.

UPDATED: Texas’ only radioactive waste site has permission to dramatically expand its capacity, take in new types of waste and reduce its financial liability should its owner suddenly close up shop.

 

 

The Brief: Aug. 20, 2014

Mugshot of Governor Rick Perry, booked on two felony counts at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, August 19, 2014.
Mugshot of Governor Rick Perry, booked on two felony counts at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, August 19, 2014.

Call it the frozen custard heard round the world. Gov. Rick Perry and his booking on two felony counts late Tuesday afternoon captured national attention — on social media, most of all.

Eagle Ford Sees Another Kind of Boom: Publishing

The Boom at Rudkin Productions. The newspaper caters to bored oil workers in South Texas.
The Boom at Rudkin Productions. The newspaper caters to bored oil workers in South Texas.

Drillers’ mad dash to the Eagle Ford has spurred a printing boom, as publishers court new advertisers and audiences — including industry executives, natives of transformed communities and oil workers with little to do in isolated towns.

Featured Data

The Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition Returns

The Brief: Aug. 18, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry speaks to press a day after a grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on Friday on charges of abuse of power August 16th, 2014
Gov. Rick Perry speaks to press a day after a grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on Friday on charges of abuse of power August 16th, 2014

One consequence of announcing the felony indictments against Rick Perry late Friday was to give the governor the following day to begin his full-throated counterattack. That meant the front pages of the state's Sunday papers were dominated by pictures of a defiant Perry.

On Climate Rules, Texas Regulators Look Beyond Litigation

Gov. Rick Perry has said that a new federal proposal to cut carbon emissions is "the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans."
Gov. Rick Perry has said that a new federal proposal to cut carbon emissions is "the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans."

Texas should not bank on legal action to free itself from the Obama administration’s proposal to tackle climate change, two state regulators said Friday at a Public Utility Commission workshop.

 

Christi Craddick: The TT Interview

Railroad Commissioners Barry Smitherman (center), David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) are shown at a Jan. 15, 2013, meeting in Austin.
Railroad Commissioners Barry Smitherman (center), David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) are shown at a Jan. 15, 2013, meeting in Austin.

The Railroad Commission's new chairman on the agency's dual role as an industry watchdog and champion, the push to ban fracking in Denton and the commission’s efforts on earthquakes and disposal wells.

 

The Brief: Aug. 15, 2014

One of the most intractable questions in Texas politics in recent years is why the state hasn't moved blue despite drastic demographic changes. A new analysis from The New York Times sheds new light on why this is so.

Energy Efficiency Plan to Aid Low-Income Texans Remains Stuck in Neutral

A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state. Texas has spent more than $2.5 billion on the effort.
A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state. Texas has spent more than $2.5 billion on the effort.

A plan to provide low-income Texans with the tools to help them interact with "smart" meters and improve energy efficiency at their homes has been stuck in a bureaucratic limbo with no end in sight. 

Some Lawmakers Want Legislative Changes to Avoid Fertilizer Blasts

A vehicle near the remains of a fertilizer plant burning after an explosion in West, Texas, near Waco.
A vehicle near the remains of a fertilizer plant burning after an explosion in West, Texas, near Waco.

A committee of Texas lawmakers met Tuesday to discuss possible legislation aimed at preventing another disaster like last year’s explosion in West — with some still skeptical of imposing regulations on fertilizer storage facilities.

 

The Meadows Foundation and the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation have supported energy coverage, and the Burdine Johnson Foundation has supported coverage of the environment.

Disposal Well Plan Seen as First Step in Addressing Earthquakes

Lynda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, Texas, testified before the Railroad Commission of Texas on Jan. 21, 2014. She voiced her concern about an increased number of earthquakes around Eagle Mountain Lake.
Lynda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, Texas, testified before the Railroad Commission of Texas on Jan. 21, 2014. She voiced her concern about an increased number of earthquakes around Eagle Mountain Lake.

Two candidates for the Railroad Commission welcomed the agency's newly proposed requirements for disposal well applications, saying they were a good first step in addressing the spate of earthquakes that have shaken up parts of North Texas.

Proposed Water Supply Project Draws Praise, Concerns in San Antonio

A cascade aerator on the site of the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant outside of San Antonio, where the San Antonio Water System maintains an underground storage reservoir.
A cascade aerator on the site of the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant outside of San Antonio, where the San Antonio Water System maintains an underground storage reservoir.

San Antonio's water utility is negotiating to eventually pipe in 16 billion gallons of water a year from Burleson County. Officials say the plan is key to securing future water needs, but others still have several questions about the project.

The Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition is Underway Once Again

Reporter Colin McDonald and photographer Erich Schlegel have resumed their journey to tell the story of the vanishing Rio Grande. To mark the renewal of their trip, we've added a new feature to our archive page – a map that tracks every check-in and post made during their trip.

Pegasus Pipeline's Partial Restart Concerns Some

Workers mop up tar sands oil from a creek in the wake of Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline spill, Mayflower, Arkansas.
Workers mop up tar sands oil from a creek in the wake of Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline spill, Mayflower, Arkansas.

The reactivation of a stretch of the 66-year-old Pegasus pipeline has stirred concerns among some Texans who live along its path. Some worry that the 2013 Mayflower spill is an example of what could go wrong in their backyards.

 

Some Texas Cities Turn to Higher Water Impact Fees

Real estate developers building new homes are facing higher water impact fees in Austin, San Antonio and other Texas jurisdictions.
Real estate developers building new homes are facing higher water impact fees in Austin, San Antonio and other Texas jurisdictions.

As cities across Texas continue to spread out, water suppliers and local governments are faced with the question of who should pay for building the infrastructure needed to handle the growth.