Tribpedia: Environmental Problems And Policies

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 ...

What's the Magic Number on Texas' 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.
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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.