Environment

Balking at Bacteria

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has voted not to allow higher levels of E. coli bacteria in the state's water sources, despite staff concerns that the current rules are unnecessarily stringent.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

Air Splitting

The battle over Texas' environmental regulations came to a head as the Environmental Protection Agency shot down the state's air-pollution permitting regime for large plants. It's the latest episode in a larger cultural and political fracas pitting Texas against Washington — and business against government — that continues to take center stage in the race for governor.

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EPA to TCEQ: Step Off

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t think Texas is doing enough to keep its air clean, so today the agency is expected to tell the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that the feds will take over air quality permitting for about 39 plants. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

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Oil and Water and Hurricanes

The National Weather Service is expected to upgrade Tropical Storm Alex by the end of the day, kicking off an Atlantic hurricane season that will be different from previous ones in the Gulf of Mexico because of — you guessed it — that pesky leaking oil off the Louisiana coast. Ben Freed of KUT News Radio reports.

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Graphic by Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Company

The Nuclear Option

Seventeen years ago, Texas turned on its last nuclear reactor, about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth. In another decade, several more reactors could get built here — if events in Washington go the power companies' way.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Ramsey's interview with Rick Perry's chief consultant, Stiles on the massive amount of cash that cities are collecting from red-light cameras, Grissom on the coming debate over the Democrats' two-step primary/caucus process, Thevenot on the State Board of Education's latest controversial plan, Aguilar on immigrants deported for minor infractions, Ramshaw on the social conscience (or lack thereof) of medical schools, M. Smith on a nascent voter registration effort in Harris County, Hamilton's interview with the newest state senator, Philpott on Bill White's feistier week, Galbraith on how tighter EPA rules will affect Texas and Hu on questions about the governor's transparency: The best of our best from June 21 to 25, 2010.

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Seeing Green

The Environmental Protection Agency's campaign against Texas' air pollution permitting process is well-known, but federal regulators are also working to tighten a number of other rules relating to power plant waste, ozone and greenhouse gas emissions. Texas businesses fear that the new regulations will dent the state's fragile economic recovery. Environmentalists are, predictably, delighted.

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Get Smart

Thanks to a 2007 state law and federal stimulus grants, smart-grid projects are proliferating across Texas, allowing customers to monitor their electricity usage and control costs. Some utilities are saving money too.

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Jacob Villanueva

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

M. Smith's interview with the new chair of the Texas GOP, Philpott on Republicans and Tea Partiers living in harmony, Aguilar on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's not-yet-released strategic plan, Ramshaw's tragic tale of out-of-state kids in Texas treatment centers, Grissom on how budget cuts could impact juvenile justice, Stiles' awesome new population app, Galbraith on the decline of the Ogallala Aquifer, Hamilton's interview with the commissioner of higher education and the debut of Hu's new video debate series: The best of our best from June 14 to 19, 2010.

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Bob Daemmrich

TribBlog: Keeping Up With the Jones Act

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Dallas, filed a bill today to waive the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 — a move sure to please Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Houston.

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TribBlog: Grading the Grid

A consulting firm's report on the Texas grid operator, ERCOT, includes comments about "dead wood" among the workforce. It recommends staffing cuts and an independent board.

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Takeover Imminent

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has tweaked some of its air quality rules in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to wrest control of Texas' permitting authority. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune has this report.

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YouTube

TribBlog: Joe Barton Says Sorry to BP Chief [Updated]

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton apologizes to BP chief executive Tony Hayward, saying that the $20 billion escrow account for spill victims set up by the White House and BP on Wednesday amounts to a "shakedown." Later Thursday, he retracted his apology to BP, and apologized himself.

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panoramio.com

Panhandling for Water

Within Texas, the Ogallala Aquifer accounts for about 40 percent of all water use, but its levels are declining sharply. In a dry growing season, the High Plains Water District recorded an average drop of 1.5 feet. Meanwhile, the 2007 state water plan projects that the Ogallala's volume will fall a staggering 52 percent between 2010 and 2060.

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Bob Daemmrich

TribBlog: Texas v. the EPA, Round 2

In the latest bout of the state's legal contretemps with the Environmental Protection Agency, Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today that Texas will challenge the federal agency's decision to disapprove its qualified facilities program.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Ramshaw and the Houston Chronicle's Terri Langford on incidents of abuse and mistreatment at residential treatment centers, M. Smith on the state Republican Party platform and 10th Amendment embracers, Galbraith on a pipeline project raising crude concerns and the most important word in water law, Ramsey on former officeholders who are now lobbyists and the possibility of a speaker's race, Grissom on a fight over solar power in Marfa, Hamilton and Aguilar on the TxDOT audit, Philpott on budget cuts affecting school districts and my conversation with Dallas County D.A. Craig Watkins: The best of our best from June 7-11, 2010.

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Keystone Pipeline System

Crude Concerns

In the wake of the Gulf spill, anxiety is building about a proposed pipeline that would run through East Texas, ferrying Canadian oil to Port Arthur and Houston for refining.

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