Energy

Face-Off: Porter vs. Weems

The two men battling for a spot on the Texas Railroad Commission go head-to-head — virtually — in the latest installment of our Face-Off video series. Watch as political novice and certified public accountant David Porter, a Midland Republican, debates Democrat Jeff Weems, an oil and gas attorney from Houston, on their respective qualifications for the job, whether there are enough pipeline inspectors and and the proper balance between environmental regulation and economic growth.

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 http://wwwdb.glo.state.tx.us/Beachwatch/images/beach1.jpg

TribBlog: Life's a Beach in Texas

Texas beaches aren't awash in oil like the sands are in some other Gulf Coast states, but they could be cleaner, a group of environmental advocates said today as it released an annual review of the nation's beaches.

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 Creative Commons/Daniel Foster

A Toxic Issue

In Texas and nationwide, controversy is escalating over the practice of shooting water, sand and chemicals underground to retrieve natural gas. Some companies have responded by using less dangerous chemicals.

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 Bob Daemmrich

TribBlog: The Sound and the Fury

Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a legal challenge on Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency, saying the agency's rejection of Texas' pollution-permiting system constitutes "improper overreach by the federal government."

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 Graphic by Todd Wiseman

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Ramshaw's question about an insurance company denying coverage for an infant vaccine prompts a reversal; Stiles' new app lets you poke through mid-year campaign reports on donations and spending; Ramsey finds foreshadowing of the state's big fall races in the campaign finance reports; Aguilar interviews Henry Cisneros about current politics; Dawson finds Texas environmentalists getting advice from an unexpected place; Galbraith on "demand response" that might cut the need for power plants and on the next wave of electric cars; Aguilar on increasing trade through Texas ports of entry; M. Smith on affirmative action battles in higher education; Titus on Mexican college students' drift from border universities to UT-Austin and Texas A&M; and Hamilton on controversy over private, for-profit colleges: The best of our best for the week of July 19 to 23, 2010.

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 General Motors

Electric Avenue

Plug-in cars — which are touted as green because they use little if any gasoline and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 49 percent and 75 percent compared with a conventional vehicle — will soon be a viable option in Texas. By the end of this year, Austinites should be able to buy the new electric car from Chevrolet, called the Volt. By next February, hundreds of Leafs, Nissan's plug-in car, will be on the roads around Houston. The new influx, fueled by government subsidies, should more than double the number of plug-in vehicles in the state.

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A Pollution Solution?

Texas environmentalists have adopted a pragmatic strategy for winning tougher control of industrial air pollution through the Sunset Advisory Commission's review process: They’ve teamed with a former commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to craft recommendations. They’re speaking with a unified voice. And they're pursuing limited changes in existing practices.

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 Doug O'Brien

Water, Water Anywhere?

This month, parts of Central Texas will decide how much water will be in the aquifers below the land for the next 50 years. The decisions will affect Dripping Springs, Johnson City, Wimberley and other towns south and west of Austin that rely on groundwater supplies. Erika Aguilar of KUT News reports.

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 Caleb Bryant Miller

The Off Switch

Rather than building new power plants just to meet peak electricity demand on hot summer afternoons, why not just persuade people and companies to use less electricity? "Demand response" is quickly taking hold in Texas.

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 Bob Daemmrich

TribBlog: Pickens Updates Plan

T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oilman, updated the presentation today for his Pickens Plan to get the country off of foreign oil. He focuses almost entirely on natural gas, and makes no mention of the wind power he also peddled two years ago.

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Back on the Ban-wagon

As BP tests the latest attempt to plug its runaway oil well, the Obama administration is taking another shot at forcing a pause in deep water drilling. This week, the government issued a new moratorium on some kinds of drilling in the Gulf… after a federal judge criticized one put in place in May. Matt Largey reports on how the oil industry in Texas is reacting to the new ban.

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 Spencer Selvidge

Alternating Current

Since 1999, when then-Gov. George Bush signed a law that deregulated the Texas electricity market, a debate has raged about whether and how much the move has benefitted ordinary Texans. Who's right?

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How the Human-Powered Gym Works

At Texas State University, one 30-minute workout can generate enough electricity to power a laptop for three hours. Watch as the director of campus recreation explains how elliptical machines and treadmills are harnessed into alternative energy.

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Power From the People

Two Texas universities are building the biggest power plants of their kind in the nation, converting the sweat energy of exercising students into electricity to fuel their campuses.

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 Djakhangir Zakhidov

DISHed Out

As he has taken on natural gas companies and the agencies that regulate them, DISH mayor Calvin Tillman has become a media darling, an unlikely face of oil and gas reform and a public speaker crisscrossing the country. Now he’s ready to give up — and to leave town entirely.

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Leaky Pipes

A Texas Railroad Commissioner is proposing to replace steel natural gas pipes with plastic. Mose Buchele of KUT News reports.

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