Tribpedia: Energy

Tribpedia

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 ...

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Emergency Responders Face Shale Boom Challenges

The surge in Texas energy production has brought a new set of hazards to communities facing the bulk of the drilling — including an increase in traffic accidents and chemical spills. That means more work for already understaffed emergency response units across small-town Texas. This video is part of our Shale Life project. 

Life Inside a Man Camp

Visit Custom Touch Village, a workforce lodging facility, or “man camp,” that has popped up to accommodate West Texas' transient oilfield workers. These temporary neighborhoods are common in the regions touched by Texas’ shale boom, where housing is in short supply and hotels are stuffed to the gills. This audio slideshow is part of our Shale Life project. 

Understanding the Shale Boom

The oil and gas industry almost singlehandedly lifted Texas from the country’s last recession. But such booms come with unsettling questions: How long will the bonanza last? And will an eventual drop in oil prices decimate local economies — as has happened throughout Texas’ history? This story is part of our Shale Life project. 

 

The Shale Life Project

Where there’s oil and natural gas, there’s money to be made and jobs to be found. But the challenges these dramatic booms present for communities across South and West Texas are immense. Use our 15-part multimedia series — the result of more than six months of reporting from the state's most active shale plays — to see how surging energy production is changing lives and fortunes across Texas. 

Don Tymrak, city manager of Karnes City, in his downtown office. He says the recent tumble in oil prices shouldn't affect the South Texas city's conservative plans for development – at least not yet.
Don Tymrak, city manager of Karnes City, in his downtown office. He says the recent tumble in oil prices shouldn't affect the South Texas city's conservative plans for development – at least not yet.

Oil Price Tremors Not Rattling Texas. Yet.

A steep drop in crude oil prices threatens to slow drilling in some U.S. oilfields, but officials in Texas' hottest shale plays say they're not sweating things yet. The boom is still a boom, they say, and it's way too early to walk away.

A natural gas compressor station located near La Grange, Texas, on Jan. 29, 2014.
A natural gas compressor station located near La Grange, Texas, on Jan. 29, 2014.

First Wind, Now Gas: Tax Breaks Face Scrutiny

UPDATED: After calling for an end to subsidies for wind energy production, the Texas comptroller has released a report studying Texas’ largest incentive for natural gas producers. The tax exemption for "high cost" gas has shaved more shaved more than $8 billion off operators’ tax bills since 2008.

The Rose, a nonprofit based in Houston, upgraded its building’s windows, light switches and roof, above, to make them more energy efficient.
The Rose, a nonprofit based in Houston, upgraded its building’s windows, light switches and roof, above, to make them more energy efficient.

Energy Efficiency Advocates Optimistic About PACE Program

A coalition aiming to encourage commercial and industrial property owners to invest in energy and water efficiency says it has made major progress. The approach, known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, addresses the biggest barrier to efficiency investments: initial costs that can take years to recoup.

Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.
Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.

Drilling Waste Site Roils Tiny Nordheim

Nordheim, population 307, is the site of one of the first organized protests in the heart of the Eagle Ford. Many of its residents are fighting to keep out a massive disposal facility for oil and gas waste — a sight that could become more common as energy producers search for places to dispose of their leftovers.

 

A worker at Mission Solar in San Antonio inspects the protective coating of a fully assembled solar panel for bubbles that could hinder efficiency. The company runs Texas' biggest solar panel manufacturing plant.
A worker at Mission Solar in San Antonio inspects the protective coating of a fully assembled solar panel for bubbles that could hinder efficiency. The company runs Texas' biggest solar panel manufacturing plant.

In Texas, Solar Manufacturer Ramps Up Production

Texas’ biggest solar panel manufacturing plant is ramping up production after becoming fully operational this summer. It’s part of San Antonio’s effort to become a solar energy hub – by building solar farms to help power the area and luring the companies that manufacture their parts.  

A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state.
A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state.

Texas Revives Low-Income Energy Efficiency Proposal

Texas regulators say they have a plan to provide low-income Texans with the tools to help them interact with "smart" meters and improve energy efficiency at their homes – tapping $18.5 million of ratepayer money long earmarked for such a program. The announcement came six weeks after the Tribune reported that the proposal had spent years in bureaucratic limbo.

Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.
Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.

EPA Backs Texas Disposal Well Plan

In their efforts to regulate the wells that hold Texas' oilfield waste, state officials have found a surprising ally in the federal Environmental Protection Agency, long a political punching bag in Texas. Support for the plan, expressed in a letter this month, provides a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes collaboration between two agencies whose relationship often appears icy.

Midland ISD Developing "Petroleum Academy"

Midland school officials and area businesses are excited about a planned high school program that will focus on preparing high schoolers to work in the region's booming oil industry. The program would meet new high school requirements while satisfying the job needs of the community. 

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.

Drillers, but Not Fracking, Tied to Tainted Water

Oil and gas activities – but not hydraulic fracturing – tainted drinking water wells atop North Texas’ Barnett Shale and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus formation, according to a new study. High levels of methane escaped poorly constructed natural gas wells and migrated into shallow aquifers.