ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

George P. Bush, the Republican candidate for Texas Land Commissioner, in Austin on Aug. 27, 2014.
George P. Bush, the Republican candidate for Texas Land Commissioner, in Austin on Aug. 27, 2014.

On Environment Issues, Younger Bush Takes a More Moderate Tone

On the campaign trail for a little-known statewide office, George P. Bush is generally toeing the Republican Party line. But in his first in-depth interview on environmental policy, the land commissioner hopeful's views on global warming and renewable energy set him apart from the Tea Party conservatives he has aligned himself with. 

 

An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.
An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.

Abbott Opinion Murky on Plastic Bag Bans

Plastic bag bans in Texas cities such as Austin and Laredo may be legally sound, according to an opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott's office handed down on Friday afternoon — that is, as long as they didn't ban bags for the purposes of "solid waste management."

Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis addresses supporters before they canvass for her in East Austin.
Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis addresses supporters before they canvass for her in East Austin.

The Brief: Aug. 27, 2014

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis released her full 2013 tax return on Tuesday, changing course after previously not allowing the document to be shared or published in full.

Abbott Opinion Murky on Plastic Bag Bans

An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.
An environmentalist dressed as a "bag monster" protests HB 2416 on March 20, 2013 by State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, banning local bag ordinances.

Plastic bag bans in Texas cities such as Austin and Laredo may be legally sound, according to an opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott's office handed down on Friday afternoon — that is, as long as they didn't ban bags for the purposes of "solid waste management."

The Brief: Aug. 27, 2014

Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis addresses supporters before they canvass for her in East Austin.
Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis addresses supporters before they canvass for her in East Austin.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis released her full 2013 tax return on Tuesday, changing course after previously not allowing the document to be shared or published in full.

Lawmakers Take Closer Look at Earthquakes in North Texas

  • 23Comments
A road in the Eagle Ford Shale area in South Texas. The natural gas drilling boom is straining the region's rural roads. More than 1,000 loaded trucks are needed to bring a single well into production.
A road in the Eagle Ford Shale area in South Texas. The natural gas drilling boom is straining the region's rural roads. More than 1,000 loaded trucks are needed to bring a single well into production.

A major uptick in earthquakes in Texas over the last several years has been linked to the state’s oil and gas boom. A Texas House subcommittee on seismic activity met on Monday to hear what state regulators are doing about it. 

In West Texas, Energy Bills Show Unexpected Costs of Drilling Boom

Oil production in West Texas has grown faster than the infrastructure needed to meet the region's new electricity demands. As a result, congestion costs are being passed onto customers' electric bills.
Oil production in West Texas has grown faster than the infrastructure needed to meet the region's new electricity demands. As a result, congestion costs are being passed onto customers' electric bills.

In West Texas, oil and gas development is surging, but it's also fueling a huge demand for electricity that the current infrastructure struggles to meet. The result? A congested grid and higher electricity bills for consumers. 

Environmental Justice Advocates Question Houston's Recycling Plan

The McCarty Road Landfill in northeast Houston. As Houston considers a new plan for boosting its low recycling rate, some critics worry that it will continue the legacy of putting waste facilities in predominantly minority neighborhoods.
The McCarty Road Landfill in northeast Houston. As Houston considers a new plan for boosting its low recycling rate, some critics worry that it will continue the legacy of putting waste facilities in predominantly minority neighborhoods.

As Houston considers a radical new plan for boosting its dismally low recycling rate, some critics worry that it will continue the legacy of putting waste facilities in predominantly minority neighborhoods. 

The Brief: Aug. 25, 2014

Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas.
Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas.

Mindy Montford, a former candidate for Travis County DA and daughter of former state Sen. John Montford, confirmed on Sunday that Gov. Rick Perry called to see if she was interested in replacing District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV reported.

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.

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

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 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 questions.

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.

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.

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.

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.