Barry Smitherman, the chairman of the Railroad Commission and former chairman of the Public Utility Commission, has earned praise as a smart and competent regulator. But he is also ambitious, and has been moving rightward with recent gun-friendly initiatives. Speculation is rife that he will make a bid for attorney general.Full Story
Texas has long been a leader in the nation's energy industry. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Texas is the largest petroleum refiner in the U.S., and produces more than three times the natural gas than any other state. The Comptroller's Office reports tax revenues from energy production and use, particularly oil and gas, have ...
Abandoned oilfield equipment is a common problem in Texas, but some fear that the recent surge in hydraulic fracturing will set off worrisome new encounters with old wells.
Barnhart, a small community about 50 miles southwest of San Angelo in West Texas, has run out of water after the town's only municipal water well failed. Officials say that the water demands of oil drilling are a factor.Full Story
In Houston, air pollution worries usually are about ozone, but scientists are paying increasingly close attention to fine dust. It’s more dangerous than ozone, some say, and the EPA will soon decide whether Houston has too much.Full Story
Lawmakers raced to get several bills passed before the 83rd Legislature's regular session ended. And with Monday's announcement of a special session, their work isn't done. Here's a look at the deals reached and the measures that fell short in the regular session.
The Texas Railroad Commission passed a long-awaited rule on Friday to strengthen the construction of oil and gas wells. The commissioners hope to set an example for other drilling states.Full Story
UPDATED: If lawmakers don't do something quickly, the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas in the state, could disappear.Full Story
It's shaping up to be another difficult summer for the Texas power grid. A national nonprofit has projected that the Texas grid will have the lowest percentage of power reserves this summer of any region of the country.Full Story
A name change and several ethics reforms on the table this legislative session for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees oil and gas drilling, died on Tuesday in a House committee.Full Story
M. Smith on a shock awaiting the state’s fifth- and eighth-graders, E. Smith’s interview with two of Washington’s Gang of Eight, Dehn and Rocha on legislative inquiries into the explosion and fire in West, Ramshaw on state leaders’ apparent disinterest in transparency, KUT’s Philpott explains points of order, Murphy and Ramshaw on the current status of ethics bills, Hamilton finds that not all college degrees are equal, Galbraith on the budget and the shale boom, Batheja on the Legislature’s do-over votes, Aguilar on a Texas application for more border drones: The best of our best for the week of April 29-May 3, 2012.
Besides boosting the economies of remote towns, the shale boom has big implications for the Texas economy and budget. Already, taxes on oil and gas production have soared above the comptroller’s estimates.Full Story
Texas is already the top oil-producing state — and excitement about a new era is pervasive, thanks in part to improved technology. Exploration of new shales like the Cline in West Texas is underway, and some oilmen say it's like the old wildcatting days.Full Story
Full video of Kate Galbraith's 4/22 TribLive conversation about the state of the environment in Texas with Laura Huffman, state director of The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Jim Marston, director of the Texas regional office of the Environmental Defense Fund and Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.Full Story
Four months after a fire shut it down, a nuclear reactor at the South Texas Project in Bay City is being restarted. That is the second prolonged shutdown at the plant in two years, prompting critics to demand closer scrutiny of the operation.Full Story
At a House panel hearing Monday, witnesses largely agreed on the causes and magnitude of climate change, and they told legislators to speed up consideration of how to deal with the results of a warming climate.Full Story
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.Full Story
Batheja on a House budget without vouchers or Medicaid expansion, Aguilar on obstacles to a new power plant in El Paso, Permenter on deer breeder regulations, E. Smith’s interview with San Antonio’s Castro twins, Galbraith on proposals for new underground water reservoirs, Root finds holes in a UT regent's appointment files, M. Smith on a planned school rating system that defied recommendations, Murphy maps oil and gas disposal wells in Texas, Dehn on objections to a bigger Medicaid program and Hamilton on efforts to lure gun makers to Texas: The best of our best for the week of April 1-5, 2013.Full Story
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.Full Story
Use our interactive map to see more than 7,000 sites across Texas where wastewater from oil and gas operations is being disposed of. Enter your ZIP code to find disposal wells near you.Full Story
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.Full Story
In drilling regions like the Permian Basin, where the water needs of fracking have run up against a historic drought, drillers are increasingly turning to brackish groundwater previously thought too expensive to use.Full Story
Most fracking operations use several million gallons of water. But with water increasingly scarce and costly around Texas, a few companies have begun using alternative liquids, such as propane. Experts say the technology still has far to go.Full Story
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.Full Story
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.
In Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, natural gas companies recycle water as a matter of course. But recycling is only getting started in the Texas oilfields because using freshwater for hydraulic fracturing is cheap.Full Story
The results of the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll on everything from the top race of 2014 to the gun debate, Aaronson on Medicaid expansion, Aguilar on a financial thaw in the Mexican oil patch, Batheja on cents and sensibility, M. Smith on school choice, Rocha and Dehn on TWIA reform, Galbraith on water and fracking, Murphy’s interactive map of poverty in the state, E. Smith's TribLive interview with House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock and Root on a lobby couple living large and reporting small: The best of our best content from March 4-8, 2013.Full Story
The amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing has stirred concerns around Texas, especially as the drought wears on. Aware that they are under the spotlight, drillers are testing out recycling and other water-saving techniques.Full Story