Tribpedia: Environment

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EPA Seeks to Clarify Federal Water Law

The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are backing a rule change that would better define the bodies of water protected by the Clean Water Act. That could mean increased government oversight of streams and wetlands across Texas — which has critics fearful of interference with private property rights. 

Hugh Daigle, assistant professor in the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, is the lead researcher on a federally funded project investigating methane hydrates.
Hugh Daigle, assistant professor in the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, is the lead researcher on a federally funded project investigating methane hydrates.

Hugh Daigle: The TT Interview

The University of Texas at Austin professor of petroleum and geosystems on the idea of tapping methane hydrates — an abundant source of natural gas found in rocks buried beneath the ocean's surface. 

LCRA's Max Starcke Dam, just east of Marble Falls, Texas. It is one of six dams the agency operates.
LCRA's Max Starcke Dam, just east of Marble Falls, Texas. It is one of six dams the agency operates.

In Central Texas, Drought Threatens Hydropower

The ongoing drought in Central Texas is claiming an innocent bystander: hydroelectricity. As the Lower Colorado River Authority limits water releases downstream, hydroelectricity — a power source that spurred the LCRA's creation almost 80 years ago — has faded further into obscurity.

The Rio Grande and a towering border fence separate Eagle Pass, Texas from Piedras Negras, Mexico, Saturday, February 4, 2012.
The Rio Grande and a towering border fence separate Eagle Pass, Texas from Piedras Negras, Mexico, Saturday, February 4, 2012.

Opponents of Border Coal Mine Face Final Test

UPDATED: Opponents of a proposed open pit coal mine on the border will see this week if their last chance at stopping the venture has legs. Representatives for the project say fears have been overblown. 

A spent fuel pool at the South Texas Project Electric Generating station near Palacios. STP Nuclear Operating Company, the station's operator, is building dry cask storage to house spent fuel once its pools fill up. Because the federal government has breached its contract that guaranteed permanent waste storage, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill, through the government's judgement fund.
A spent fuel pool at the South Texas Project Electric Generating station near Palacios. STP Nuclear Operating Company, the station's operator, is building dry cask storage to house spent fuel once its pools fill up. Because the federal government has breached its contract that guaranteed permanent waste storage, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill, through the government's judgement fund.

Nuclear Waste Storage on Texas Lawmakers' Agenda

Following instructions from House Speaker Joe StrausTexas lawmakers plan to study the benefits of accepting high-level nuclear waste from around the country, a controversial proposition. But even if Texas seeks a waste facility, huge hurdles would stand in its way. 

Hugh Fitzsimons surveys the old windmill that pumps at two gallons a minute to fill the pila that then feeds the water trough for his bison and wildlife at SHAPE Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX, February, 21, 2013.
Hugh Fitzsimons surveys the old windmill that pumps at two gallons a minute to fill the pila that then feeds the water trough for his bison and wildlife at SHAPE Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX, February, 21, 2013.

Report: Water Availability a Risk for Oil, Gas Drillers

A new national report on water use for hydraulic fracturing suggests that oil and gas companies are at risk of running short on the precious resource — especially in South Texas.

 

Mike Skinner on Dec. 26, 2013 outside the farmhouse on the land five miles east of Spearman that he sold last spring. Three generations of his family had farmed the land.
Mike Skinner on Dec. 26, 2013 outside the farmhouse on the land five miles east of Spearman that he sold last spring. Three generations of his family had farmed the land.

Farms Aren’t Going Away, but a Lot of Little Ones Are

More Texans are leaving farming and ranching because of opportunities in urban areas, increased land prices and concerns about weather patterns fueled by drought.

Seen is the Longhorn Pipeline petroleum tank storage terminal in the Montana Vista community in far East El Paso, Texas on April 1, 2013. El Paso Electric plans to build a natural gas power plant that will be able to provide electricity to 80,000 homes in the area.
Seen is the Longhorn Pipeline petroleum tank storage terminal in the Montana Vista community in far East El Paso, Texas on April 1, 2013. El Paso Electric plans to build a natural gas power plant that will be able to provide electricity to 80,000 homes in the area.

El Paso Electric Reaches Deal on Proposed Power Plant

A West Texas utility company and a coalition of neighborhood activists have reached an agreement that paves the way for the construction of a natural gas power plant in far east El Paso County. 

Jim Howell stands on the easement of the Exxon Mobile Pegasus pipeline which runs through his property in Gun Barrel City on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
Jim Howell stands on the easement of the Exxon Mobile Pegasus pipeline which runs through his property in Gun Barrel City on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

East Texans Seek Shutdown of Pegasus Pipeline

About eight months after a ruptured pipe spewed at least 210,000 gallons of tar sands oil in Arkansas, residents and some public officials in East Texas are calling on regulators to permanently shutter the Pegasus pipeline, which runs beneath local reservoirs and backyards. 

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 10/21/13

M. Smith on wasted private tutoring efforts, Satija on government protection for the lesser prairie chicken, Root finds a new nest of Democratic trial lawyers, Malewitz finds a border skirmish featuring mollusks, Hamilton with the latest on politics at the University of Texas, Batheja on the link between vehicle traffic and bond ratings, Aguilar finds some promise in a juvenile justice program in Eagle Pass and Aaronson covers the court fight over new abortion regulations: The best of our best for the week of Oct. 21-25, 2013.

An official with Fort Worth's water department on steps that lead down to the Trinity River, where unreclaimed water from the wastewater treatment plant gets dumped.
An official with Fort Worth's water department on steps that lead down to the Trinity River, where unreclaimed water from the wastewater treatment plant gets dumped.

Reused Wastewater Key to Trinity River's Survival

By virtue of its proximity to three major Texas cities, nearly half of the state’s population relies on the Trinity River for some of its water needs. 

The Brazos River runs dry in Knox County, Texas, during the summer drought of 2011. At the 2013 Texas Tribune Festival, the chairman of the Texas Water Development Board said that water availability models in the state will have to change, though he didn't say whether the state would look directly at possible effects of climate change in the planning.
The Brazos River runs dry in Knox County, Texas, during the summer drought of 2011. At the 2013 Texas Tribune Festival, the chairman of the Texas Water Development Board said that water availability models in the state will have to change, though he didn't say whether the state would look directly at possible effects of climate change in the planning.

Week Reveals Gap Remains Regarding Climate Change

Days after scientists unveiled a report predicting serious consequences tied to global warming, state officials debated whether the phenomenon is human-induced and whether they can do anything about it.