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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Amid Fracking Boom, Concerns Over Cancer Rates

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A worker untangles a hose at a Fountain Quail water management and treatment facility in Roanoake, Texas. Fountain Quail cleans and separates water used in fracking for natural gas removal.
A worker untangles a hose at a Fountain Quail water management and treatment facility in Roanoake, Texas. Fountain Quail cleans and separates water used in fracking for natural gas removal.

Dramatic increases in oil and gas production, and the drilling technique called fracking, have been tied to elevated levels of air pollution in Texas, stirring concerns over health risks to residents, like cancer. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

Jaime Gonzalez, community education director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy, cut some blossoms off roughcone flowers Aug. 6 at a prairie in Deer Creek.
Jaime Gonzalez, community education director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy, cut some blossoms off roughcone flowers Aug. 6 at a prairie in Deer Creek.

"Pocket Prairies" Preserve Houston's Native Plants

"Pocket prairies" have been popping up all over Houston, helping beautify the city while preserving the native plants that are now harder to find in Harris County. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for sustaining the native plants is preserving the few large, biodiverse prairies that act as seed banks for the other prairies.

Weekend Insider: Pocket Prairies, School Spending

Today on the Texas Tribune Weekend Insider:

A group of conservationists is introducing Houstonians to native plants that covered the area before it became the sprawling cement landscape it is today. "Pocket prairies" are being planted on small tracts of land throughout the city. But now a pristine 53-acres of prairie, where they have been collecting rare seeds, is scheduled to become a subdivision. The group is trying to raise a quarter-million dollars before November 1st to prevent the development.

Morgan Smith examines three Texas school districts that spend the most money per student and the three districts that spend the least. With schools suing the state over education funding, she asks just how much it costs to educate a child in Texas. 

Read these stories and more this weekend at TexasTribune.org.

In Fight Between Texas and EPA, Who's Winning?

A federal appeals court on Monday handed Texas a victory in its long-running battle with the Environmental Protection Agency. But after years of squabbling between the state and the federal government, who's winning — and at what cost — remains unclear. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

Court Faults EPA's Rejection of Flexible Permits Program

The 5th U.S. Circut Court of Appeals has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency unfairly disapproved of a Texas air emissions permitting program. The court ruled the EPA's decision was based mainly on language, and did not give substantial evidence as to why it violates the Clean Air Act.

Amid Texas Drought, a Sweet Silver Lining

Triple-digit temperatures and parched lands may not be ideal for Texas farmers. But the dry conditions this summer have bestowed an unexpected gift on farmers' fruit and vegetable crops: enhanced flavor.

Al Armendariz: The TT Interview

In his first public interview since resigning, the former Environmental Protection Agency regional chief discusses his decision to step down after his controversial "crucify" comment surfaced, why he joined the Sierra Club and why he views climate change as the biggest environmental problem facing Texas.

UT Professor on Defensive Over Fracking Study

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Controversy over a professor's failure to disclose financial ties to a drilling company while leading an academic study has erupted at the University of Texas at Austin. The professor, Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat, has called the charges unfounded and overblown. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

Drought Not the Only Factor in Texas Tree Deaths

The 2011 drought wreaked havoc on the state's trees, but according to a new report, few of them died directly from dehydration. Rather, trees weakened by the drought likely fell prey to a different culprit: diseases and insects.

Seen is the ASARCO Smelter site on Sunday July 8, 2010 in El Paso, Texas. The site began operations as a lead smelter in 1887 and started producing copper in 1910. Plagued by a series of environmental problems and a slump in the price of copper, Asarco declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005 and shut down.
Seen is the ASARCO Smelter site on Sunday July 8, 2010 in El Paso, Texas. The site began operations as a lead smelter in 1887 and started producing copper in 1910. Plagued by a series of environmental problems and a slump in the price of copper, Asarco declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005 and shut down.

El Paso Plant’s Old Smokestacks Have Avid Fans

Two smokestacks in El Paso — remnants of the smelting company ASARCO — remind many residents of a legacy of environmental damage. But to a local group, the smokestacks, which are currently slated for demolition, are historical landmarks worth saving.

Pain in Midwest Could Be Texas Farmers' Gain

Though Texas has partly recovered from extreme drought conditions thanks to heavy rains, the Midwest is enduring one of its worst dry spells in decades. And as conditions in the Midwest drive food prices up, some say Texas farmers stand to benefit.

Life by the Drop: Drought, Water and the Future of Texas

Drought may be a part of life in Texas, but last year's crisis left an indelible mark on the state and raised tough questions about its future. In a special report on the 2011 drought, KUT News, StateImpact Texas and Texas Monthly examine how the state will manage a growing population amid a shrinking water supply. Visit StateImpact Texas for more on the series.

South Padre Island,  January 28, 2012
South Padre Island, January 28, 2012

Even in Coastal Areas, Drought Leaves Lasting Concerns

As last year’s drought intensified, the Colorado River brought less fresh water to the Gulf of Mexico. For the latest installment in KUT News, StateImpact Texas and Texas Monthly's series on water issues, Mose Buchele looks at Matagorda Bay, where water quality has suffered — and the economy, too. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

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.

In a More Urban Texas, Farmers Face Uncertain Future

The state's recent drought has permanently changed life for some Texans, but in many ways, the scarcity just underlined a crisis already looming in the state. For the latest installment in KUT News, StateImpact Texas and Texas Monthly's series on water issues, Mose Buchele looks at Wharton County, where water concerns have imperiled a generation of rice farmers.

Former MDI Superfund site east of downtown Houston.
Former MDI Superfund site east of downtown Houston.

Urban Redevelopment Renews Concerns Over Industrial Sites

The federal government has spent millions of dollars cleaning up so-called brownfields, old industrial properties contaminated by toxic waste. But as Dave Fehling of KUHF News reports for StateImpact Texas, the re-development of some of the state's urban cores has revived concerns over some of the sites. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

Heat in Texas Will Spark New Battles

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As summer begins, the spotlight will be on the dunes sagebrush lizard (will it get an endangered listing or not?), former EPA regional head Al Armendariz (who's testifying in Washington) — and, of course, the perpetual question of whether the electric grid has enough juice.

A crane lifts SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft on to a barge after the vehicle twice orbited the Earth in December of 2010.
A crane lifts SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft on to a barge after the vehicle twice orbited the Earth in December of 2010.

Proposed SpaceX Launch Site in Texas Draws Concerns

SpaceX, which just sent the first private spacecraft to the International Space Station, has proposed building a launch pad in Texas. But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is concerned the proposed launch area is too close to endangered species.

Michael Burgess: The TT Interview

The Republican congressman from Lewisville on his objections to a law setting higher efficiency standards for lightbulbs and how he intends to stop the Department of Energy from enforcing the standards. "It’s the government exercising power nobody ever intended to give them in the first place," he says.