Tribpedia: Environmental Problems And Policies

Tribpedia

Texas contains an abundance of natural resources, but efforts to impose environmental regulations have faced roadblocks for many decades. Texas holds a large share of the nation's oil and chemical manufacturing industries, so state policymakers must balance economic considerations with the need to curtail environmental risk. Oil, gas and chemical manufacturing industries employ thousands of Texans and contribute billions ...

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Politics of Climate Change in Texas Have Shifted

A view of the Houston Ship Channel from the back of the Sam Houston tour boat in Feb. 2014.
A view of the Houston Ship Channel from the back of the Sam Houston tour boat in Feb. 2014.

Texas leaders weren't always so skeptical about climate change. But the state's rightward shift, coupled with a booming oil and gas economy, have changed the tenor of the debate. Scientists and environmental advocates say that's a growing problem for Texas, the country's biggest climate polluter. This story was produced in collaboration with The World, a program by Public Radio International.

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.

Lake Texoma in October 2013. Once a major water supply for North Texas, it has been offline amid a zebra mussel infestation.
Lake Texoma in October 2013. Once a major water supply for North Texas, it has been offline amid a zebra mussel infestation.

Reservoir Plan to Be Focus of Contested Case Hearing

UPDATED: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality voted Wednesday to refer protests over the proposed Lower Bois d'Arc Reservoir in northeast Texas to the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The proposed reservoir could be one of the last to be built in the state in the coming decades.

 

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.

Workers cut open bags of WaterSavr, an evaporation suppressant, to apply the powder to Lake Arrowhead. WaterSavr's manufacturers claim it will save 30 percent of water that would have otherwise evaporated from the reservoir.
Workers cut open bags of WaterSavr, an evaporation suppressant, to apply the powder to Lake Arrowhead. WaterSavr's manufacturers claim it will save 30 percent of water that would have otherwise evaporated from the reservoir.

Four Guys and a Boat Tackle a Texas-Sized Water Problem

Drought-stricken Wichita Falls is trying a bold experiment to address one of Texas' most vexing water problems. It consists of four guys, a motorboat and thousands of pounds of a white powder that suppresses evaporation. The method has big potential, but there are plenty of skeptics.

Scientists say higher temperatures due to global warming are already diminishing water resources, and that climate change will cause the southern and western portions of the state to become drier. Those regions supply water for fast-growing cities like Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, as well as the Rio Grande Valley.
Scientists say higher temperatures due to global warming are already diminishing water resources, and that climate change will cause the southern and western portions of the state to become drier. Those regions supply water for fast-growing cities like Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, as well as the Rio Grande Valley.

Water Planners Focus on Bigger Texas, Not a Hotter One

As state water planners prepare to spend $2 billion in public funds to address Texas’ water needs in the coming decades, scientists say that state leaders' skepticism on climate change will only impair such planning. The scientists say higher temperatures due to global warming are already diminishing water resources.

Texas remains one of the most significant contributors to global warming in the world. Year after year, Texas spews out more greenhouse gases than any other state in the country.
Texas remains one of the most significant contributors to global warming in the world. Year after year, Texas spews out more greenhouse gases than any other state in the country.

Climate Scientists: Texas is Missing an Opportunity

Texas-based climate scientists — some of the world's most renowned — say that Texas could be a global leader in protecting against climate change. But if state agencies continue to fail to take climate change into account when planning for the state’s future, the scientists argue, Texans will suffer a direct impact.

 

 

The Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition

The Rio Grande has been the lifeblood of the land it flows through for more than 3,000 years. But its future has never been more uncertain. Reporter Colin McDonald and photojournalist Erich Schlegel are traveling the length of the Rio Grande, interviewing those who depend on it and cataloging its chemistry and biology from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico.

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."

Another Loss for Texas in Its Challenge of EPA Regulations

The U.S. Supreme Court largely rejected Attorney General Greg Abbott’s challenge of federal climate rules Monday, deciding that the EPA is allowed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from most large industrial facilities.

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."

What Texas Could Do to Follow Climate Change Rules

Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas leaders say a federal proposal to combat climate change is a direct assault on energy providers. This Tribune analysis examines what Texas and its energy providers would have to do to reach the goals set forth in the proposal — if that proposal stays as is.

Lake Travis, a major water supply reservoir for Austin, is severely depleted due to drought. The State Water Plan calls for dozens more such reservoir projects to be built in the coming decades to meet Texas' future water needs.
Lake Travis, a major water supply reservoir for Austin, is severely depleted due to drought. The State Water Plan calls for dozens more such reservoir projects to be built in the coming decades to meet Texas' future water needs.

What's the Magic Number on Texas' Water Needs?

How much water does the state need in the coming decades? It depends on whom you ask. State water planners say that Texas needs 2.7 trillion more gallons of water a year by 2060. But some water law and planning specialists say state water planners have overestimated future agricultural demands and underestimated the impact of water conservation measures.

 

 

 

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. 

The lesser prairie chicken roams in the circled areas above, according to research by state environmental officials and scientists.
The lesser prairie chicken roams in the circled areas above, according to research by state environmental officials and scientists.

States' Plan to Save Rare Bird Stirs Debate in Texas

Environmental officials in five states, including Texas, say surging interest in a plan to save the lesser prairie chicken should persuade the federal government not to list the bird as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. Energy companies, developers and landowners say such a designation could threaten economic development in West Texas and the Panhandle.

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.

 

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.

Anti-Regulation Politics May Have Hurt Energy Industry

Texas' anti-regulation stance may have hurt business when the state refused to issue required greenhouse permits for almost two years. Energy companies had to delay large industry facilities that needed the permits. As a result, they say, they have been unable to take full advantage of the area's shale boom.

Texas Regulators Air Concerns on Greenhouse Gas Rules

Texas appears to be headed for another clash with the Environmental Protection Agency over greenhouse gas limits — this time, for existing power plants. A letter from Texas regulators to the EPA about a new plan raised concerns about the federal rule-making process and a potential strain on the state's electric grid.