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The Brief: March 24, 2014

The spill of as much as 168,000 gallons of fuel oil into Galveston Bay has crews working hard to avoid lasting impacts on a crucial shipping channel as well as an ecologically sensitive area of the Texas coast.

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The Big Conversation

The spill of as much as 168,000 gallons of fuel oil into Galveston Bay has crews working hard to avoid lasting impacts on a crucial shipping channel as well as an ecologically sensitive area of the Texas coast. "This is an extremely serious spill," said Capt. Brian Penoyer of the U.S. Coast Guard, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. "It is a persistent oil."

As it stands, the collision between a barge carrying 924,000 gallons of oil and a ship has created a massive traffic jam for dozens of ships both wanting to enter the Houston Ship Channel and to leave it. Officials told the Chronicle that it could take days or even weeks to clear the water.

The Texas Tribune's Neena Satija notes the fuel oil spilled in this accident is "black, sticky and particularly heavy. That means that instead of evaporating from the surface of the water like gasoline would, much of it will sink, persisting in the environment for months or even years. While this heavier oil is not acutely toxic, it can smother wildlife, to devastating effect."

One of the most immediate ecological concerns is the spill's impacts on migratory birds, such as the loon, which will fly northward through the area "this month, and are sure to be affected by the sticky oil slicks," writes Satija.

The Day Ahead

•    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is at Scholz Garten in Austin at 10:30 to discuss equal pay for equal work.

•    State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, addresses the first class of school marshal trainers in Maxwell at 9 a.m. Villalba was an author of the legislation last session creating the school marshal program, intended to protect students from armed attackers at public schools. 

•    The House Human Services Committee holds an interim meeting at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to discuss implementation of SB 7, passed last session. (agenda)

Today in the Trib

GMO Labeling Movement Stagnant in Texas: "A small group of Texas farmers and environmental advocates is pushing for the labeling of genetically modified foods. But the effort has received little interest from Texas' Republican-dominated Legislature or from major agribusinesses."

Analysis: Candidates Hoping to Regain Voters' Favor: "A handful of candidates seeking election this year are trying to win the favor of some of the same voters who previously voted them out of office."

In Cigarroa's Wake, Major Gains and Significant Discord: "Francisco Cigarroa's improbable tenure as chancellor of the University of Texas System was as notable for its achievement as it was for its discord. In some ways, his arrival was more surprising than his departure."


Davis profited from government bond work, Houston Chronicle

At least 3 Hidalgo County primary election challenges to be filed Monday, McAllen Monitor

Dewhurst helps Dan Branch, Bob Deuell by spending vs tea party, Austin American-Statesman

Cruz appeals to several factions within GOP, The Dallas Morning News

Farenthold: It's OK to negotiate, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

San Antonio suburb of Von Ormy goes ‘zero tax, zero fee’ to recruit business, provide services, Austin American-Statesman

Dallas flashes cash in pitch for 2016 GOP convention, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"Sounds like a sad case of anti-Texas in Texas."

Ted Nugent, reacting angrily to the city of Longview's decision to pay a $16,000 cancellation fee to avoid having the controversial rocker play its July 4 celebration. He also called the city's mayor "racist," "clueless" and "dishonest."

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sen. Charles Schwertner and Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal at Texas A&M University in College Station, 3/27

•    A Conversation With Mike Collier, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 4/17

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Politics Blake Farenthold David Dewhurst Greg Abbott Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis