Tribpedia: Environment

Will Texas lawmakers ax tree ordinances in more than 50 cities?

A tree is protected by wood planks during construction at a private residence in Austin on June 12, 2017.
<p>A tree is protected by wood planks during construction at a private residence in Austin on June 12, 2017.</p>

During the special session, the Texas Legislature will consider preventing cities from having local tree regulations. More than 50 cities have ordinances protecting trees, and some local officials worry that the effort represents an overreach of state power.  

Joseph Seinsheimer, chairman of the Galveston chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, dressed up as a self-proclaimed “bag monster” with dozens of plastic bags wrapped around his upper body. He testified Tuesday against legislation that would would prevent cities from banning plastic bags.
Joseph Seinsheimer, chairman of the Galveston chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, dressed up as a self-proclaimed “bag monster” with dozens of plastic bags wrapped around his upper body. He testified Tuesday against legislation that would would prevent cities from banning plastic bags.

At Capitol, bill targeting plastic bag bans draws strong opposition

Ranchers, city officials and environmentalists testified on Tuesday against a bill that would prevent cities from banning plastic grocery bags or charging a fee for them.

A section of border fence cuts through the Nature Conservancy’s Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve near Brownsville. Because the land is home to several endangered plant and animal species, the conservancy thought it would be able to force the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to build the fence elsewhere. But “our compelling arguments were not that compelling to the federal government,” said Laura Huffman, head of the Nature Conservancy’s Texas office.
A section of border fence cuts through the Nature Conservancy’s Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve near Brownsville. Because the land is home to several endangered plant and animal species, the conservancy thought it would be able to force the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to build the fence elsewhere. But “our compelling arguments were not that compelling to the federal government,” said Laura Huffman, head of the Nature Conservancy’s Texas office.

Environmental impacts of the border fence (slideshow)

Scenes from the Rio Grande Valley in far South Texas, where a border barrier went up years ago.

 

Scott Nicol, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Campaign, stands in front of the border fence in Hidalgo in far South Texas. This section, which sits atop a levee, runs between a national wildlife refuge and a local nature center.
Scott Nicol, co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Campaign, stands in front of the border fence in Hidalgo in far South Texas. This section, which sits atop a levee, runs between a national wildlife refuge and a local nature center.

Scientists say Trump's border wall would devastate wildlife habitat

At the U.S.-Mexico border, scientists say existing fencing is hurting endangered wildlife and warn that a continuous wall could devastate many species.

Large quantities of radioactive materials stored in a single location, like these at an oil well-logging storage site, are particularly vulnerable to theft for use in a dirty bomb, the Department of Energy and the Government Accountability Office determined in 2014, yet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission still allows the practice.
Large quantities of radioactive materials stored in a single location, like these at an oil well-logging storage site, are particularly vulnerable to theft for use in a dirty bomb, the Department of Energy and the Government Accountability Office determined in 2014, yet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission still allows the practice.

Will Texas become final resting place for high-level nuclear waste?

A controversial radioactive waste dump in far West Texas is one step closer to being able to accept high-level nuclear waste.

A view of northern Mexico from the South Rim of the Chisos Mountain in Big Bend National Park. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new clean air rule aimed at easing hazy conditions in Big Bend and other national parks and wilderness areas in Texas and surrounding states. It is pursuing the so-called BART rule after Texas successfully challenged a similar regulation in court.
A view of northern Mexico from the South Rim of the Chisos Mountain in Big Bend National Park. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new clean air rule aimed at easing hazy conditions in Big Bend and other national parks and wilderness areas in Texas and surrounding states. It is pursuing the so-called BART rule after Texas successfully challenged a similar regulation in court.

Texas electric generators bash EPA over proposed clean air rule

Environmental groups praised and power generators bashed a proposed federal environmental regulation on Tuesday aimed at improving visibility in national parks and wilderness areas in Texas and surrounding states.

Ty Edwards, assistant general manager of the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District, points to brackish water flowing from one of several flowing abandoned wells— originally drilled for oil, but later used for irrigation — that no state agency plans to plug.
Ty Edwards, assistant general manager of the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District, points to brackish water flowing from one of several flowing abandoned wells— originally drilled for oil, but later used for irrigation — that no state agency plans to plug.

Abandoned Texas oil wells seen as "ticking time bombs" of contamination

Texas is among several states grappling with a surge of abandoned drilling sites and dwindling funds to clean them up.

 

Juan Ontiveros manages the University of Texas at Austin's energy system, which generates electricity, heating and cooling for the entire campus — independent of the state's electricity grid. The campus burns less fuel than it did 40 years ago, a time when it enrolled thousands fewer students.
Juan Ontiveros manages the University of Texas at Austin's energy system, which generates electricity, heating and cooling for the entire campus — independent of the state's electricity grid. The campus burns less fuel than it did 40 years ago, a time when it enrolled thousands fewer students.

UT-Austin gets bigger, but its energy bills and emissions are shrinking

UT-Austin’s energy system operates as an island, outside of the electricity grid that covers most of Texas. It's getting more efficient over time, avoiding millions of dollars in fuel costs.

 

Lasse Kjærgaard Larsen manages district heating in Marstal, the biggest city on the Baltic Sea island of Aero. The utility's solar thermal farm — once the world's largest of its kind — meets 55 percent of this city's heating demands.
Lasse Kjærgaard Larsen manages district heating in Marstal, the biggest city on the Baltic Sea island of Aero. The utility's solar thermal farm — once the world's largest of its kind — meets 55 percent of this city's heating demands.

This energy technology gets no respect at all — but it's cutting carbon

Sometimes called the "Rodney Dangerfield" of the energy industry, the district energy concept has fueled Denmark's shift from fossil fuels. Energy efficiency advocates want to encourage more district energy projects in Texas.

A wind farm generates electricity off the coast of Copenhagen. Wind energy accounted for 42 percent of Denmark's generation last year. Four decades ago, the country depended almost entirely on imported oil.
A wind farm generates electricity off the coast of Copenhagen. Wind energy accounted for 42 percent of Denmark's generation last year. Four decades ago, the country depended almost entirely on imported oil.

1 energy crisis, 2 futures: How Denmark and Texas answered a challenge

Facing the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, Denmark shifted from fossil fuels. Texas responded differently. Here's a look at how things went for each.

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.

Tiny Nordheim Sues State Over Drilling Waste Dump

A tiny South Texas town is continuing its fight against an oil and gas waste site half its size, even after regulators gave its developer the go-ahead. Residents of Nordheim, population 316, are suing the Texas Railroad Commission.