ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Gov. Rick Perry holds his Texas driver's license and his wallet as he heads to a west Austin early voting site on October 30, 2013.
Gov. Rick Perry holds his Texas driver's license and his wallet as he heads to a west Austin early voting site on October 30, 2013.

The Brief: April 23, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry continued to work to get Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to resign even after following through on the threat to veto money for the Public Integrity Unit.

The Brief: April 23, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry holds his Texas driver's license and his wallet as he heads to a west Austin early voting site on October 30, 2013.
Gov. Rick Perry holds his Texas driver's license and his wallet as he heads to a west Austin early voting site on October 30, 2013.

Gov. Rick Perry continued to work to get Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to resign even after following through on the threat to veto money for the Public Integrity Unit.

AG Seeks Details on Federal Plans for Land by Red River

A view of the Red River looking east, north of Bonham, Texas. Texas is to the right, and Oklahoma is on the left. The border between the two states runs along the south (right) bank of the river.
A view of the Red River looking east, north of Bonham, Texas. Texas is to the right, and Oklahoma is on the left. The border between the two states runs along the south (right) bank of the river.

Texas officials are seeking more information on the federal government's plans to potentially take control of 90,000 acres of land long managed by North Texans. 

Appointment of Brazos Watermaster Hotly Contested in East Texas

The Brazos River as it flows past Glen Rose on Aug. 2, 2013. Drought conditions have led to a significant decrease in water levels in the river. Use of the river by cattle farmers along its route is another factor leading to a decrease in water quality and shore erosion is.
The Brazos River as it flows past Glen Rose on Aug. 2, 2013. Drought conditions have led to a significant decrease in water levels in the river. Use of the river by cattle farmers along its route is another factor leading to a decrease in water quality and shore erosion is.

The Brazos river's hotly contested lower basin will soon be subject to much more regulation than its users have experienced in the past. Will that help solve disputes or deepen divisions? 

Digging Up Drilling Logs, Hoping to Strike Water

Daniel Ortuño, who manages the 1.5 million drilling records stored at the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology, examines well data in what he calls the "spooky room," home to thousands of records that he has not yet organized. State water researchers are using information from some logs to map potential water sources.
Daniel Ortuño, who manages the 1.5 million drilling records stored at the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology, examines well data in what he calls the "spooky room," home to thousands of records that he has not yet organized. State water researchers are using information from some logs to map potential water sources.

As drought grips most of Texas, researchers are combing the state's 1.5 million drilling records to map brackish water in the state's 30 aquifers — hidden resources that could help quench the state’s long-term thirst.

The Meadows Foundation and the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation have supported energy coverage, and the Burdine Johnson Foundation has supported coverage of the environment.

In Power Line Dispute, Rancher Questions Utilities' Wiggle Room

Johnny Vinson stands on the part of his Wise County, Texas ranch where Oncor built a power line  through his property. Vinson says the power company didn't build the line where they said they would.
Johnny Vinson stands on the part of his Wise County, Texas ranch where Oncor built a power line through his property. Vinson says the power company didn't build the line where they said they would.

After landowners sign off on power line routes, can transmission companies install them somewhere else? The Public Utility Commission is set to consider a rancher’s complaint.

 

Court Thwarts Sierra Club's Challenge to Hazardous Waste

John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.
John Ward, operations project task manager at Waste Control Specialists' facility near Andrews, Texas, walks over to inspect concrete canisters that will house drums of nuclear waste.

UPDATED: A state appeals court has thwarted the second of two challenges to a hazardous and low-level radioactive waste disposal site in West Texas in rulings that signal growing difficulties for those trying to scrutinize the decisions of Texas' environmental regulators.

 

Criticism of Water Policy Flows From Conservatives

Granbury resident Joe Williams (left) stands with City Council Member Rose Myers and Hood County Commissioner Steve Berry under a Lake Granbury resident's dock in the Waters Edge neighborhood on Lake Granbury's north shore. The lake is 53 percent full.
Granbury resident Joe Williams (left) stands with City Council Member Rose Myers and Hood County Commissioner Steve Berry under a Lake Granbury resident's dock in the Waters Edge neighborhood on Lake Granbury's north shore. The lake is 53 percent full.

Many conservative activists in Texas worry that when it comes to state water policy, Republican leaders have not focused on principles like small government, private property rights and local control. 

Railroads Filling Void as Oil Pipeline Falls Short

The Jefferson Rail Transload Terminal at the Port of Beaumont on April 8, 2014. The terminal offloads oil from rail cars onto barges bound for refineries on the Gulf Coast. (Photo by Michael Stravato)
The Jefferson Rail Transload Terminal at the Port of Beaumont on April 8, 2014. The terminal offloads oil from rail cars onto barges bound for refineries on the Gulf Coast. (Photo by Michael Stravato)

As drillers produce millions of barrels of crude oil in shale plays in Texas and the Midwest, railroad companies are finding booming business in transporting the oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

Report: Air Quality to Worsen in Eagle Ford Shale

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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.

A newly released but largely unnoticed study commissioned by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality makes some dire predictions about what will happen to air quality in South Texas as the Eagle Ford Shale boom continues.