Kate Galbraith Reporter

Kate Galbraith has covered energy and environment for the Tribune since 2010. Previously she reported on clean energy for The New York Times from 2008 to 2009, serving as the lead writer for the Times' Green blog. She began her career at The Economist in 2000 and spent 2005 to 2007 in Austin as the magazine's Southwest correspondent. A Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University from 2007 to 2008, she has an undergraduate degree in English from Harvard and a master's degree from the London School of Economics. She is co-author of The Great Texas Wind Rush, a book about how the oil and gas state won the race to wind power.

Recent Contributions

In the Panhandle, an Experiment to Help Farmers Save Water

A device that transmits information on soil moisture in a cornfield belonging to David Ford (standing) a farmer near the Texas Panhandle town of Dumas. He is participating in a water-saving demonstration project.
A device that transmits information on soil moisture in a cornfield belonging to David Ford (standing) a farmer near the Texas Panhandle town of Dumas. He is participating in a water-saving demonstration project.

Deep in the Panhandle, a groundwater district is running a closely watched demonstration project aimed at showing farmers how to use less irrigation water on their crops. As the Ogallala Aquifer drops, saving water is an increasingly urgent task.

North Texas Town Upset With Perry's Veto of Water System Measure

Roy Thornhill Sr. (center) voices his concern as residents of the City of Blue Mound, Texas, gather at their community center, on Monday, March 4, 2013.  The small North Texas City of Blue Mound held a town hall meeting on Monday, March 4, for its residents to sign a petition against what they say are unjustifiably high water rate increases.
Roy Thornhill Sr. (center) voices his concern as residents of the City of Blue Mound, Texas, gather at their community center, on Monday, March 4, 2013. The small North Texas City of Blue Mound held a town hall meeting on Monday, March 4, for its residents to sign a petition against what they say are unjustifiably high water rate increases.

State Rep. Charlie Geren and leaders in the North Texas town of Blue Mound are upset that Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for the town to gain control of its water system.

Railroad Commission Chairman Mulls Future

Chairman Barry Smitherman of the Railroad Commission of Texas in his office, May 31, 2013.
Chairman Barry Smitherman of the Railroad Commission of Texas in his office, May 31, 2013.

Barry Smitherman, the chairman of the Railroad Commission and former chairman of the Public Utility Commission, has earned praise as a smart and competent regulator. But he is also ambitious, and speculation is rife that he will make a bid for attorney general.

Old Oilfield Equipment Raises Pollution Fears

Landowner Stuart Carter, in Central Texas near the town of Luling, has years of abandoned oil equipment on his property. Here, two oil wooden oil tanks that he says date to the 1920s.
Landowner Stuart Carter, in Central Texas near the town of Luling, has years of abandoned oil equipment on his property. Here, two oil wooden oil tanks that he says date to the 1920s.

Abandoned oilfield equipment is a common problem in Texas, but some fear that the recent surge in hydraulic fracturing will set off worrisome new encounters with old wells.

 

West Texas Oilfield Town Runs Out of Water

Southern plains bison from the Goodnight heard are raised for meat on Hugh Fitzsimons's SHAPE Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX, February, 21, 2013.
Southern plains bison from the Goodnight heard are raised for meat on Hugh Fitzsimons's SHAPE Ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX, February, 21, 2013.

Barnhart, a small community about 50 miles southwest of San Angelo in West Texas, has run out of water after the town's only municipal water well failed. Officials say that the water demands of oil drilling are a factor.

After Legislative Session, What's Next for Water?

There is plenty of action still to come on water after the legislative session, starting with a shake-up of the Water Development Board. In addition, all eyes will be on a November referendum asking voters to approve new water funds.

Railroad Commission Adopts Key Well Construction Rule

An oil & gas drilling rig is drilling a well for Pioneer Natural Resources in the Eagle Ford Shale formation near Yorktown.
An oil & gas drilling rig is drilling a well for Pioneer Natural Resources in the Eagle Ford Shale formation near Yorktown.

The Texas Railroad Commission passed a long-awaited rule on Friday to strengthen the construction of oil and gas wells. The commissioners hope to set an example for other drilling states.