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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Lesser Prairie Chicken
Lesser Prairie Chicken

Feds Approve Conservation Plan for Rare Bird

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put its stamp of approval on a plan that Texas and four other states have worked on for years to protect the lesser prairie chicken, a rare bird whose future has been threatened by economic development — especially oil and gas drilling — in West Texas and the Panhandle.

 

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.

 

 

 

Threatened Species a Focus for Energy Industry

Texas' biggest oil and gas companies are looking to take a prime role in protecting threatened species in the state. They are aided by some environmental groups and agricultural interests, who say their plan could be a model for the country. But some other environmental advocates have expressed concerns.

 

 

Environmental Concerns Rise as Brazos Levels Fall

The 840-mile Brazos River is a key water source for several municipalities and industries. And as the river's levels continue to be impacted by drought, debate has increased over who gets to use water from the Brazos, how much water should be used and how much water should be left to keep the river healthy.

 

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Christopher J. Churchill, a biologist for the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey, displays several zebra mussels found along the shoreline of Lake Ray Roberts, near Sanger, Texas, Jul. 18, 2013.
Christopher J. Churchill, a biologist for the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey, displays several zebra mussels found along the shoreline of Lake Ray Roberts, near Sanger, Texas, Jul. 18, 2013.

Boater Education Courses Target Invasive Species

One way that invasive aquatic species like the zebra mussel can spread across Texas waterways is via boats that aren't cleaned. New legislation will require boater education courses to address the importance of boaters cleaning the vehicles. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series, a monthlong look at how the bills and budget passed by the 83rd Legislature will affect Texans' lives starting Sept. 1. 

Interactive: Abbott vs. the Federal Government

Led by Attorney General Greg Abbott, Texas has fought the federal government for control over various issues, including environmental regulation and oversight of voting laws. The state has 18 lawsuits currently pending against the federal government. Use this interactive to look at the current legal battles.

Slideshow: Bracken Bat Cave

Every summer night, a swirling vortex of Mexican free-tailed bats emerges from Bracken Cave, the largest colony of bats in the world, in an exodus that can last for as long as four hours. It's a sight the cave's protectors say is threatened by a developer's plans. 

Texas Department of Public Safety patch worn on a uniform during an April 7, 2011 graduation ceremony in Austin.
Texas Department of Public Safety patch worn on a uniform during an April 7, 2011 graduation ceremony in Austin.

West Plant Blast Focus of Criminal Investigation

The Texas Rangers and the McLennan County sheriff's office are launching a criminal investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion last month in West.

In Texas, Underground Reservoirs Take Hold

Amid continued worries about reservoir levels statewide, several Texas communities are exploring the concept of underground storage reservoirs, which do not lose water to evaporation and do not flood agricultural land. Proponents say it may be the smartest water technology you've never heard of.

The Big Brown power plant in Fairfield, Texas
The Big Brown power plant in Fairfield, Texas

Sierra Club Takes Aim at Coal Plants in East Texas

A battle over Texas coal is heating up, as the Sierra Club is launching a campaign to close down 1970s-era coal plants owned by power-generation giant Luminant. It will be one of the biggest anti-coal campaigns in the nation by the club, which says the plants are especially harmful to the climate and Texans’ health. The company says its plants are compliant with environmental regulations and will keep running.

Odor Control tanks stand outside the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wichita Falls, on Friday, January 25, 2013.
Odor Control tanks stand outside the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wichita Falls, on Friday, January 25, 2013.

Water-Reuse Projects Move Forward, Despite Concerns

Several Texas cities are planning potable reuse projects, which put treated wastewater through extra chemical and biological processes before it eventually becomes part of the drinking supply. Critics have doubts about such projects, though officials say the process is safe.

 

A xeriscaped garden in Austin, TX
A xeriscaped garden in Austin, TX

Texas Bills Aim to Douse HOAs' Limits on Xeriscaping

Texas homeowners associations often require members to keep plush lawns. But some are easing their rules as the drought continues, and two Texas lawmakers have introduced legislation to prevent the groups from restricting xeriscaping. It may be a tough fight.

Construction finishing on a two million gallon water tank in a 13,000-acre water well field owned by the Colorado River Municipal Water District near Wickett, Texas. The land and existing infrastructure, purchased from Luminant Generation using state funds, as well as newly constructed water wells and pipeline, can pump up to 30 million gallons of water out of the field a day.
Construction finishing on a two million gallon water tank in a 13,000-acre water well field owned by the Colorado River Municipal Water District near Wickett, Texas. The land and existing infrastructure, purchased from Luminant Generation using state funds, as well as newly constructed water wells and pipeline, can pump up to 30 million gallons of water out of the field a day.

Texas Bills Would Dedicate $2 Billion for Water

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State Rep. Allan Ritter, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, filed two bills on Thursday that would allocate $2 billion sum from Texas' Rainy Day Fund to create a fund for water-supply projects. Several competing proposals are floating around the Legislature, but this is the the largest sum proposed to date.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson speaks at the announcement of an electronics recycling initiative with Dell Computer and others in Austin on July 20, 2011.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson speaks at the announcement of an electronics recycling initiative with Dell Computer and others in Austin on July 20, 2011.

AG Hopeful as EPA Chief Exits

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has waged a vociferous legal battle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its regulation of industries and pollution, on Thursday said he is hopeful for change at the EPA with the departure of its leader, Lisa Jackson..

Utility Commission to Consider New Power Line Rules

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It's a common occurrence: A tree or branch falls on a power line, cutting off electricity to nearby residents. On Thursday, though, the state's Public Utility Commission will vote on rules aiming to make that a little less likely in the future. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

 

Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly reported the date of the PUC meeting. It is Thursday Dec. 13.

Methane Gas May Go to Waste in Texas

Methane, a byproduct of landfill waste, can be used to generate electricity or power industrial equipment. But in Texas, future methane-capturing landfill projects may be at risk. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.