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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The Next Green Grocery Frontier: Zero Waste?

Brothers Christian and Joseph Lane are looking to promote healthy eating in Austin. Their other brother Patrick is missing from the photo, but also involved in founding the in.gredients grocery store.
Brothers Christian and Joseph Lane are looking to promote healthy eating in Austin. Their other brother Patrick is missing from the photo, but also involved in founding the in.gredients grocery store.

A trio of brothers and their business partner are hoping to change grocery shopping habits in Austin with in.gredients, billed as the first “zero-waste, package-free” market in the nation. The store, which is still in the fundraising stage, will sell all of its goods in bulk. In other words, don’t forget your Tupperware or empty jam jars.

Wildfires, Burn Bans Rage Across Texas

So far this year, the Texas Forest Service has responded to roughly 1,500 wildfires across Texas, the damage of which spreads across 2.5 million acres. And burn bans are spreading just as fast. Use our interactive map to track wildfires and burn bans across the state, using Texas Forest Service data.  

Floaters splash and stay cool at "Rockin' the River-Live on the Trinity", a free event sponsored by the Trinity River Vision.
Floaters splash and stay cool at "Rockin' the River-Live on the Trinity", a free event sponsored by the Trinity River Vision.

Dallas, Fort Worth Looking to Revive the Trinity River

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The Trinity has never been much-loved like the Guadalupe, the San Marcos or the Frio. It's wide and muddy for most of its 710-mile journey from the northern prairie to the Gulf of Mexico northeast of Houston. For the first time, both Dallas and Fort Worth are making efforts to revitalize it and make it a destination for recreation.

A research unit of The University of Texas at Austin located in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.
A research unit of The University of Texas at Austin located in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

Bill to Aid Texas' McDonald Observatory in Limbo

A bill aimed at reducing the glare from outdoor lighting in a large swathe of West Texas in order to help the McDonald Observatory is currently stuck in the Senate, though its sponsor hopes to get it to the floor by the tomorrow's legislative deadline.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of May 9, 2011

Aaronson on pork choppers, Aguilar on sanctuary cities legislation, Galbraith on Brownsville's ban on plastic bags, Grissom on Delma Banks and prosecutorial misconduct, Hamilton on a tough week for higher education in Texas, Philpott on wildfires and politics, Ramshaw on the state's pursuit of a federal Medicaid overhaul, M. Smith on what would happen if lawmakers don't rewrite school finance formulas, yours truly on the Lege as schooyard and Stiles with interactive graphics on how the proposed Senate redistricting maps compare with current ones: The best of our best content from May 9 to 13, 2011.

Brownsville resident Rosie Orozco bags her own groceries in a reusable bag after shopping at an A.V. Lopez grocery store. Orozco says she always carries reusable bags in her car.
Brownsville resident Rosie Orozco bags her own groceries in a reusable bag after shopping at an A.V. Lopez grocery store. Orozco says she always carries reusable bags in her car.

For Texas City, Plastic Bag Ban Brings Controversy

At stores in Brownsville, customers must pay $1 for plastic bags — so many bring their own, or go without. The policy, which also restricts paper bags, has removed hundreds of thousands of bags daily — but not without controversy. Meanwhile, South Padre Island and Fort Stockton are gearing up for plastic bag bans of their own, and the Legislature may intervene too. 

Wildfire rages along a mountaintop outside of Alpine early in the morning of April 10, 2011
Wildfire rages along a mountaintop outside of Alpine early in the morning of April 10, 2011

Cornyn, Perry Blast Feds Over Wildfires; FEMA Responds

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Sen. John Cornyn vowed to "raise Cain" if the federal government's decision not to give Texas extra financial assistance for battling the wildfires hinged on politics, and Gov. Rick Perry has also expressed "dismay." But the feds say that Texas is already getting help.

Sen. Kel Seliger (r), R-Amarillo, solicits support from Sen. Rodney Ellis (l), D-Houston, during Senate action on March 29, 2011.
Sen. Kel Seliger (r), R-Amarillo, solicits support from Sen. Rodney Ellis (l), D-Houston, during Senate action on March 29, 2011.

Texas Senate Approves Radioactive Waste Oversight Plan

Today the Senate passed a couple of bills that outline how the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission should oversee a low-level radioactive waste dump planned for Andrews County.

Wildfire rages along a mountaintop outside of Alpine early in the morning of April 10, 2011
Wildfire rages along a mountaintop outside of Alpine early in the morning of April 10, 2011

Wildfires in West Texas Could Creep Eastward

A string of wildfires has charred about 400,000 acres in drought-stricken West Texas. But as Erika Aguilar of KUT News reports, areas further east, also thirsting for water, may be just as vulnerable as the west.

Steve Pollock, Assistant Chief for the Texas Forest Service.
Steve Pollock, Assistant Chief for the Texas Forest Service.

Texas Official Says More Bad Fire Weather Coming

As wildfires raged through West Texas last weekend, Steve Pollock, an official with the Texas Forest Service, helped fight a 100,000-acre blaze in Stonewall and King Counties. He says more bad fire weather is on the way.

The Texas Forest Service, the lead agency for battling state wildfires, is part of the Texas A&M University system.
The Texas Forest Service, the lead agency for battling state wildfires, is part of the Texas A&M University system.

Slideshow: Fighting Fires in Texas

The Texas Forest Service, the lead agency charged with fighting fires, has had a busy season due to strong winds and drought.

Blackened earty at Camp Bowie.
Blackened earty at Camp Bowie.

Texas Forest Service Battles Fires, Budget Cuts

Drought and strong winds mean that the number of wildfires is way up this year: Last weekend, one army base alone started four blazes. The Texas Forest Service, the lead fire-fighting agency, is also facing heightened scrutiny in the Legislature — and, of course, budget cuts.

Texas Debates Plastic Bag Recycling

This week, committees in both chambers heard testimony about bills to encourage recycling of plastic grocery bags. But environmentalists fear that the legislation would prevent local communities from banning plastic bags altogether, as three Texas cities have done.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 3/21/11

M. Smith on the continuing controversy over Beaumont's school administrators, Tan on the deepening divide over the consequences of the House budget, Hamilton on the latest in the fight over higher ed accountability, Grissom on young inmates in adult prisons, Aguilar on the voter ID end game, Tan and Hasson's Rainy Day Fund infographic, Ramsey on the coming conflict over school district reserves, M. Smith and Aguilar on Laredo ISD's missing Social Security numbers, Galbraith on environmental regulators bracing for budget cuts and Ramshaw on greater scrutiny of neonatal intensive care units: The best of our best content from March 21 to 25, 2011.

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.

Texas Could Require Disclosure of Drilling Chemicals

A recently introduced bill would make Texas one of just a few states to require natural gas companies to disclose, for a public website, what chemicals they use in the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing. Both the gas industry and environmentalists have praised the bill, which could, some say, give Texas the strongest disclosure requirements in the country.

Texas Environmental Regulators Face Deep Budget Cuts

Texas' environmental regulators — already under fire from green groups for not doing enough to keep air and water pollution in check — are bracing for deep cuts as lawmakers hash out the budget. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality faces a possible cut of about $295 million, or 34 percent. The Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, could see a 16 percent cut. Other agencies with some environmental functions also face the ax.

Texas Task Force to Battle EPA Regulations

Texas is summoning all of its political firepower to do battle against the federal Environmental Protection Agency. A newly announced task force of state and federal lawmakers will try to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and abolishing the state's flexible permitting system for refineries and other big plants.

A conservation easement on this approximately 2,000-acre ranch in
Medina County is part of San Antonio's aggressive aquifer-protection
program
A conservation easement on this approximately 2,000-acre ranch in Medina County is part of San Antonio's aggressive aquifer-protection program

In San Antonio, a Focus on Land Conservation

Texas is not a state known for devoting public money to land conservation. Yet San Antonio is continuing an unusual and aggressive program to protect its aquifer. Despite tough economic times, the city is using public money to purchase land or easements to prevent development in critical areas.

Surfside Jetty Park in Surfside Beach, Texas - October 11, 2009
Surfside Jetty Park in Surfside Beach, Texas - October 11, 2009

Beach Projects at Risk From Lawsuit, Budget

The General Land Office has a lot on its plate these days — a controversial property rights lawsuit, the reopening of Texas’ favorite surf spot and an ongoing project to restore Texas’ most fertile fishing pier. As Texas agencies await the tidal wave of budget cuts, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson says coastal erosion projects shouldn’t be cut. “The beach is a recreation area no different than building a mega sports complex,” he says. “If we invest in it than we get a return.”

The bird’s eye-view from Scenic Mountain draws many visitors to Big Spring State Park in West Texas.
The bird’s eye-view from Scenic Mountain draws many visitors to Big Spring State Park in West Texas.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Agency Faces Big Cuts

State parks, hunting lands and even the parks agency's magazine could suffer if the Legislature enacts a hefty budget cut for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.