Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune http://kut.org en Texas Renewable Energy Faces Hurdles in Legislature http://kut.org/post/texas-renewable-energy-faces-hurdles-legislature <p></p><p class="body" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif;">During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama doubled down on his vision for renewable energy, calling for more wind and solar power.</p><p class="body" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 1em; padding: 0px; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif;">In Texas, the Legislature is less enthusiastic.</p> Fri, 15 Feb 2013 16:40:08 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 6621 at http://kut.org Texas Renewable Energy Faces Hurdles in Legislature Despite ‘Green’ Label, Austin a Growing Oil and Gas Hub http://kut.org/post/despite-green-label-austin-growing-oil-and-gas-hub <p></p><p>Subjects like solar panels and smart-grid technologies become a topic of discussion at plenty of Austin happy hours. But when dozens of people gathered at a lakeside bar earlier this month, the talk drifted toward oil prices, shale plays and hydraulic fracturing.</p><p>“When you think Austin, you don’t think oil and gas,” said David Tovar, a geoscience technician at Three Rivers, an oil and gas company based in Austin, as he held a pint of Texas brew. The native Texan ended up at Three Rivers after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a geological sciences degree.</p><p>Despite its “Keep Austin Weird” slogan and passion for clean energy, Austin is increasingly attracting oil and gas companies like Three Rivers, a small firm founded in 2009 that focuses on oil development in West Texas and New Mexico, aided by the high oil prices of recent years. Austin’s oil industry, about 4,000 workers strong, is still dwarfed by Houston and Dallas. But the city’s entrepreneurial bent and reputation as an attractive place to live, along with the top-tier petroleum engineering program at UT, have trumped the fact that Austin is far from the oilfields.</p><p> Mon, 12 Nov 2012 22:51:00 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 5617 at http://kut.org Despite ‘Green’ Label, Austin a Growing Oil and Gas Hub Texas Parks, Towns Embrace Dark Sky Movement http://kut.org/post/texas-parks-towns-embrace-dark-sky-movement <p><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; ">In recent years, Texas’ state parks </span>have<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120125/us-travel-brief-texas-tourism/" style="color: rgb(0, 137, 144); " target="_blank">struggled</a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120125/us-travel-brief-texas-tourism/" style="font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.35; color: rgb(0, 137, 144); " target="_blank"> with falling visitor numbers and budget cuts.</a><span style="color: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 16:38:30 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 5450 at http://kut.org Texas Parks, Towns Embrace Dark Sky Movement Why Longhorns Owe Their Survival in Part to Oklahoma http://kut.org/post/why-longhorns-owe-their-survival-part-oklahoma <p></p><p>It might not be the safest week to mention this, but here goes:</p><p>The Texas longhorns owe their survival in large part to Oklahoma.</p><p>Oklahoma and the federal government, that is.</p><p>We’re talking cattle, of course, not football. Here’s what happened: A century ago, the longhorn breed teetered on the edge of extinction. After the Civil War, the great herds that had lumbered up the Chisholm Trail from Texas to the railways depots in Kansas for shipment east had suddenly fallen out of favor. Texas ranchers had become enamored with Herefords and Angus, which grew faster and were often less cantankerous than the lean, hardy longhorn, which was descended from Spanish and Anglo cattle and had sometimes roamed wild.</p><p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 16:12:33 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune & Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 5322 at http://kut.org Why Longhorns Owe Their Survival in Part to Oklahoma Texas Comptroller's Report Assesses Drought's Impact http://kut.org/post/texas-comptrollers-report-assesses-droughts-impact <p>A 12-page&nbsp;<a href="http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/drought/pdf/96-1704-Drought.pdf" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;released Wednesday by the Texas comptroller&#39;s office offers a wide-ranging look at the effects of the record drought that is still gripping Texas.</p><p>The report, &quot;The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond,&quot; contains few new figures for drought losses but offers graphics that depict the breadth of the problem, which hurt crops, threatens electricity production and forced 55 communities to ban outdoor watering.</p><p>&quot;Texas is prone to cycles of drought which makes it important for residents, businesses, and state and local governments to manage water use,&quot; Comptroller Susan Combs said in a prepared statement. &quot;Every Texan has a stake in water issues the state faces.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite recent rains,&nbsp;<a href="http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_state.htm?TX,S" target="_self">95 percent of the state remains in drought</a>.</p><p> Wed, 08 Feb 2012 22:49:30 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 3618 at http://kut.org Texas Comptroller's Report Assesses Drought's Impact Texas Electric Grid Faces Uncertainty in 2012 http://kut.org/post/texas-electric-grid-faces-uncertainty-2012 <p>Will the lights stay on in 2012? Texas electricity experts cannot say for certain.</p><p>The state&rsquo;s electric grid operators are coming off of a tumultuous year, one they are not eager to repeat. In February, a deep freeze knocked numerous power plants out of commission as equipment broke,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.texastribune.org/texas-energy/electric-reliability-council-texas/the-rolling-chain-of-events-behind-texas-blackouts/" target="_self">causing rolling blackouts</a>&nbsp;across the state. Then, the hottest summer on record&nbsp;<a href="http://www.texastribune.org/texas-energy/electric-reliability-council-texas/rotating-outages-greater-possibility/" target="_self">spurred repeated conservation warnings</a>, as grid managers worked &mdash; successfully &mdash; to avoid more blackouts.</p><p>What happens next year will largely depend on the weather. While a piping-hot summer could spur blackouts, as electricity use spikes because of air-conditioning loads, winter shortfalls are looking less likely.</p><p> Fri, 23 Dec 2011 14:08:08 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 3291 at http://kut.org Texas Electric Grid Faces Uncertainty in 2012 Texas Greens Cheer New EPA Mercury Rules http://kut.org/post/texas-greens-cheer-new-epa-mercury-rules <p>The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new&nbsp;<a href="http://www.epa.gov/mats/basic.html" target="_self">rule</a>&nbsp;on Wednesday aimed at reducing the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants. It is unlikely to improve Texas officials&#39; low opinion of the agency.</p><p><br />&quot;This is a victory for public health, especially the health of our children,&quot; said Lisa Jackson, the EPA&#39;s head, as she announced the rules at a children&#39;s medical center in Washington, D.C.<br /><br /> The rules will take full effect in 2016, Jackson said. &quot;Before this rule, there were no national standards limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases,&quot; she said. Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:38:56 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 3277 at http://kut.org Texas Greens Cheer New EPA Mercury Rules Electric Grid Operator Warns Summer Blackout Threat Could Recur http://kut.org/post/electric-grid-operator-warns-summer-blackout-threat-could-recur <p>In a&nbsp;<a href="http://ercot.com/news/press_releases/show/459" target="_self">report</a>&nbsp;released Thursday, the state&#39;s electric grid operator indicated that next summer could see a repeat of the rolling blackout threats that plagued Texas past summer. The reason: rising demand for electricity and some power plants going offline.</p><p>&quot;If we stay in the current cycle of hot and dry summers, we will be very tight on capacity next summer and have a repeat of this year&#39;s emergency procedures and conservation appeals,&quot; Trip Doggett, chief executive of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said in a statement.<br /><br /> If crazy weather &mdash; like the deep freeze in February that caused large numbers of power plants to break down &mdash; hits again this winter, outages could also result then, the report said. But Doggett put the risk of this happening in the wintertime as &quot;very low.&quot; Thu, 01 Dec 2011 21:50:34 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 3111 at http://kut.org Electric Grid Operator Warns Summer Blackout Threat Could Recur Texas Oil Regulators Scrap Concealed Firearms Ban http://kut.org/post/texas-oil-regulators-scrap-concealed-firearms-ban <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Texas Railroad Commission employees will now be able to carry concealed firearms as they go about their work, following a unanimous vote on Tuesday by the three commissioners.<br /><br /> &quot;[Railroad Commission] employees often work alone in remote and desolate areas of the state where they may encounter criminals or dangerous wild animals,&quot; Barry Smitherman, the newest commissioner, said in a statement. &quot;The least we can do is allow them to exercise their legal right to carry firearms in accordance with state law.&rdquo;<br /> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 20:51:38 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 2940 at http://kut.org Texas Oil Regulators Scrap Concealed Firearms Ban Austin Congressman McCaul a Top Water User Despite Drought http://kut.org/post/austin-congressman-mccaul-top-water-user-despite-drought <p>In Texas House and Senate hearings this week, state lawmakers heard repeatedly about the crisis created by the record-breaking drought &mdash; and the need for Texans to conserve water.<br /><br /> One elected official who has lagged on this front is U.S. Rep. <a href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/michael-mccaul/">Michael McCaul</a>, R-Austin.<br /><br /> From October 2010 through September 2011 &mdash; a time period that corresponds almost exactly to the first 12 months of the drought &mdash; a property belonging to McCaul and his wife was the sixth-largest water user among all Austin residential customers, according to records obtained from Austin&#39;s water utility. The McCauls&#39; water consumption, 1.4 million gallons over those 12 months, comes to about 15 times the consumption of the average Austin home over that time. Thu, 03 Nov 2011 19:06:18 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 2904 at http://kut.org Austin Congressman McCaul a Top Water User Despite Drought Drought's Economic Impact Spreading Across Texas http://kut.org/post/droughts-economic-impact-spreading-across-texas <p>A year into the driest stretch in recorded state history, most Texans are still far from running out of water. But the devastating economic impact is beginning to extend beyond rural agriculture and into tourism, real estate and other staples of more urbanized economies.</p> Thu, 27 Oct 2011 18:36:32 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune & Kiah Collier, San Angelo Standard-Times 2849 at http://kut.org Drought's Economic Impact Spreading Across Texas New Federal Forecast Says Drought to Worsen Over Winter http://kut.org/post/new-federal-forecast-says-drought-worsen-over-winter <p>While already-sodden northern regions of the United States can expect above-average rains this winter, the worst one-year drought in Texas history looks set to persist in the coming months, federal forecasters said today.<br /><br />It is &quot;most likely that severe drought will persist through the winter&quot; in the Southern Plains, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA&#39;s Climate Predictions Center, speaking on a press call timed with the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20111020_winteroutlook.html" style="color: rgb(0, 137, 144); " target="_self">release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration&#39;s Winter Outlook</a>, which covers the months of December through February.<br /> Thu, 20 Oct 2011 18:54:24 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 2789 at http://kut.org New Federal Forecast Says Drought to Worsen Over Winter Texas Officials Unmollified by Pollution Rule Changes http://kut.org/post/texas-officials-unmollified-pollution-rule-changes <p>The federal Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday&nbsp;<a href="http://www.epa.gov/airtransport/actions.html" style="color: rgb(0, 137, 144); " target="_self">proposed scaling back some requirements</a>&nbsp;of its cross-state rule for reducing air pollution &mdash; a rule that has incited the fury of Texas officials including Gov. Rick Perry.</p> Thu, 06 Oct 2011 21:27:58 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 2684 at http://kut.org Texas Officials Unmollified by Pollution Rule Changes Business Groups Back Texas Water Ballot Measure http://kut.org/post/business-groups-back-texas-water-ballot-measure <p>To meet the needs of its growing population, drought-stricken Texas urgently needs more water infrastructure totaling $231 billion to augment water supplies and treatment, wastewater processing and flood control by 2060, according to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/wrpi/swp/draft.asp" style="color: rgb(0, 137, 144); " target="_self">draft of the state water plan</a>&nbsp;that was released last month.</p> Wed, 05 Oct 2011 15:33:19 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 2665 at http://kut.org Business Groups Back Texas Water Ballot Measure Draft Water Plan Says Texas "Will Not Have Enough" http://kut.org/post/draft-water-plan-says-texas-will-not-have-enough <p>Every five years, the Texas Water Development Board publishes a water plan for the state. The 295-page draft of the <a href="http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2012/draft_2012_swp_1.pdf" target="_self">2012 plan</a>, published last week in the midst of the worst-ever single-year drought Texas has ever experienced, is a sobering read.<br /><br />&quot;The primary message of the 2012 state water plan is a simple one,&quot; the introduction states. &quot;In serious drought conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, and its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises.&quot;<br /><br />The report is packed with data and projections, but a few stand out. The state population, now 25 million, is expected to increase to 46 million by 2060. During that time, existing water supplies will fall 10 percent as the Ogallala and other aquifers are depleted. Tue, 27 Sep 2011 21:27:50 +0000 Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune 2605 at http://kut.org Draft Water Plan Says Texas "Will Not Have Enough"