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 ...

Fight Over Salamanders a Preview of Debates to Come

A federal proposal to list four Central Texas salamanders as endangered species has provoked a fierce debate about how humans affect the natural world. But the back-and-forth also foreshadows future fights likely to take place as more species come up for review. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

Electricity transmission lines in Houston.
Electricity transmission lines in Houston.

Electricity Concerns Persist After Pollution Ruling

Texas Weekly

With temperatures projected to soar during the final days of August, the state of the Texas electric grid will once again be on policymakers’ minds — though some reliability concerns may be eased since a federal court struck down an EPA rule that could have affected coal plants.

A Bastrop resident points to flames as smoke billows over Texas 71 in Bastrop Country during the wildfires on September 5, 2011.
A Bastrop resident points to flames as smoke billows over Texas 71 in Bastrop Country during the wildfires on September 5, 2011.

Forged in Flames: An Oral History of the Labor Day Fires

A year ago, much of Central Texas was in danger because of raging wildfires. Drought-sticken green spaces had provided the perfect tinder for far-reaching blazes. These are the stories of Central Texans who lived through the Labor Day wildfires.

Scored pine tress outside of Bastrop where a wildfire came through on September 6, 2011.
Scored pine tress outside of Bastrop where a wildfire came through on September 6, 2011.

Bastrop Park Initiative Puts Emphasis on Seed Banking

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The wildfires that burned through Central Texas last Labor Day weekend, ravaged the area’s pine forests. The Texas Forest Service wants to plant 4 million loblolly pine seedlings in Bastrop State Park over the next few years, to help restore the forest to its original splendor. But, as KUT’s Mose Buchele reports for StateImpact Texas, the stored seedlings were almost thrown away before the fires struck.

Cameras developed for analyzing comet tails might also serve as early wildfire detection.
Cameras developed for analyzing comet tails might also serve as early wildfire detection.

Space-Tech Cameras May Help Spot Wildfires

In the year since wildfires destroyed thousands of homes across Central Texas, officials have looked for ways to reduce the threat of fires. They've since found one, in technology developed not for fighting fires but for exploring outer space.

The rubble of a house remains after last weeks' wildfire remains untouched on September 9, 2011.
The rubble of a house remains after last weeks' wildfire remains untouched on September 9, 2011.

A Year After Fires, Communities Focus on Prevention

Sept. 4 marks one year since wildfires ravaged Central Texas, causing officials and residents to rethink how they manage their land. Since then, some communities have taken it upon themselves to make their surroundings safer in the event of another wildfire.

Melvin Pulver of Spicewood lost his mobile home and everything else in the fire a year ago.
Melvin Pulver of Spicewood lost his mobile home and everything else in the fire a year ago.

Central Texans Recount an Escape From Roaring Fires

It’s been nearly a year since wildfires tore through Central Texas, burning more than 1,600 homes, killing two people and uprooting countless lives.

Over the course of the last year, KUT News has been collecting stories from the people who lived through the fires. There have been many tales of heartbreak, loss, heroism and affirmation. And many that describe the sheer terror of being confronted with such a fast-moving “monster.”

The story of how one man survived the Pedernales fire Sept. 4 through quick thinking and a little luck is told by Spicewood residents Melvin Pulver and Debbie Opdahl.

An almost completely burned sign stands amid rubble at Bastrop State Park on Sept. 13, 2011.
An almost completely burned sign stands amid rubble at Bastrop State Park on Sept. 13, 2011.

A Year Later, Tracing the Roots of the Central Texas Wildfires

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As the anniversary of last year's Central Texas wildfires draws near, KUT News and StateImpact Texas revisit what led to the worst fires in state history, and how the state has changed since last summer. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is abandoning the use of hot-iron branding and moving towards the use of ear tags for the identification of cattle.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is abandoning the use of hot-iron branding and moving towards the use of ear tags for the identification of cattle.

As Climate Hurts Cattle, Ranchers Turn to Genetics

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For years researchers have been studying how to develop cattle that are heat and drought tolerant. And while crossbreeding isn't a new development, it's becoming more common among Texas ranchers as summers become drier and hotter.

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.

Amid Fracking Boom, Concerns Over Cancer Rates

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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.