ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

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."

Lawmakers Take Closer Look at Earthquakes in North Texas

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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. 

West Texas Energy Bills Show Boom’s Unexpected Costs

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. 

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: Ice Cream and a Mug Shot for Perry

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: Spotlight Shines on a Defiant Perry

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, 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.