Tribpedia: Energy

Understanding the Boom

The oil and gas industry almost singlehandedly lifted Texas from the country’s last recession. But such booms come with unsettling questions: How long will the bonanza last? And will an eventual drop in oil prices decimate local economies — as has happened throughout Texas’ history? This story is part of our Shale Life project. 

 

The Shale Life Project

The challenges the oil and gas boom present for communities across South and West Texas are immense. Use our 15-part multimedia series to see how surging energy production is changing lives and fortunes across Texas. 

Don Tymrak, city manager of Karnes City, in his downtown office. He says the recent tumble in oil prices shouldn't affect the South Texas city's conservative plans for development – at least not yet.
Don Tymrak, city manager of Karnes City, in his downtown office. He says the recent tumble in oil prices shouldn't affect the South Texas city's conservative plans for development – at least not yet.

Oil Price Tremors Not Rattling Texas. Yet.

A steep drop in crude oil prices threatens to slow drilling in some U.S. oilfields, but officials in Texas' hottest shale plays say they're not worried. 

Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.
Paul Baumann's property, owned by his family for generations, is directly next to a proposed drilling waste dump in the small town of Nordheim. He, along with other concerned citizens, are protesting the dump as they fear it will pollute and ruin their way of life.

Drilling Waste Plan Roils South Texas Town

Nordheim, population 307, is the site of one of the first organized protests in the heart of the Eagle Ford. Many of its residents are fighting to keep out a massive disposal facility for oil and gas waste — a sight that could become more common as energy producers search for places to dispose of their leftovers.

 

A worker at Mission Solar in San Antonio inspects the protective coating of a fully assembled solar panel for bubbles that could hinder efficiency. The company runs Texas' biggest solar panel manufacturing plant.
A worker at Mission Solar in San Antonio inspects the protective coating of a fully assembled solar panel for bubbles that could hinder efficiency. The company runs Texas' biggest solar panel manufacturing plant.

In Texas, a Bright Outlook for Solar Manufacturer

Texas’ biggest solar panel manufacturing plant is ramping up production. It’s part of San Antonio’s effort to become a solar energy hub – by building solar farms to help power the area and luring the companies that manufacture their parts.  

A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state.
A 2007 state law said that "smart" meters must "be deployed as rapidly as possible" across the state.

State Revives Low-Income Energy Efficiency Plan

Texas regulators say they have a plan to provide low-income Texans with the tools to help them interact with "smart" meters and improve energy efficiency at their homes – tapping $18.5 million of ratepayer money long earmarked for such a program.

 

Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.
Although leadership at the Texas Railroad Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency often feuds, staff at each agency has found ways to work together, says Milton Rister, executive director of the Railroad Commission.

Texas and the EPA Find Agreement Underground

In their efforts to regulate the wells that hold Texas' oilfield waste, state officials have found a surprising ally in the federal Environmental Protection Agency, long a political punching bag in Texas. 

 

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford on June 17.

Drillers, but Not Fracking, Tied to Tainted Water

Oil and gas activities – but not hydraulic fracturing – tainted drinking water wells atop North Texas’ Barnett Shale and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus formation, according to a new study.  

 

Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.
Steve Lipsky shows the methane contamination of his well by igniting the gas with a lighter outside his family's home in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas on June 17, 2014.

Tainted Well Prompts Free Speech Dispute

A tainted water well in North Texas has already stirred national debate about the impacts of oil and gas production. Now it stars in a free speech dispute that has landed in the Texas Supreme Court.

Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.
Keller ISD Superintendent Randy Reid spoke during an Aug. 11, 2014, town hall meeting, where attendees debated whether to put a $175 million bond up to Keller ISD voters in the general election.

Series: Bypassed by the Miracle

Check out Bypassed by the Miracle, our seven-part series on the people and communities that have missed out on Texas' economic success or are finding that it comes at a price.