Environment http://kut.org en Keystone XL Pipeline Review Extended By State Department http://kut.org/post/keystone-xl-pipeline-review-extended-state-department <h6>This post was updated at 6 p.m. ET.</h6><p>The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The additional time was given "based on the uncertainty created" by an ongoing legal battle in Nebraska, according to a State Department statement.<p>In February, a Nebraska judge <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/20/280182838/nebraska-to-appeal-ruling-that-blocks-keystone-pipeline-in-state">struck down a 2012 law</a> that allowed part of the pipeline to run through the state. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:54:19 +0000 10257 at http://kut.org Keystone XL Pipeline Review Extended By State Department Why It's So Damn Hard to Move the Taco Bell Tree http://kut.org/post/why-its-so-damn-hard-move-taco-bell-tree <p><strong><a href="http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2014/03/25/why-its-so-damn-hard-to-move-a-heritage-tree/">From StateImpact&nbsp;Texas:&nbsp;</a></strong></p><p>Back in the 1970s and '80s, it probably looked like something out of&nbsp;<a data-mce-="" href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106677/" style="line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(96, 120, 144); margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgb(153, 153, 153);">Dazed and Confused</a>. Teenagers pulling up in T-Birds, wind in their hair, to hang out in the parking lot of a Taco Bell. The sun would set in the Hill Country to the west, sending a glow through the branches of an old Live Oak tree. Today the Taco Bell and the teenagers are long gone, but the tree remains, affectionately known as the "<a data-mce-="" href="http://www.austinheritagetreefoundation.com/Taco_Bell_Tree.html" style="line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(96, 120, 144); margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgb(153, 153, 153);">Taco Bell Tree</a>."</p><p style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">It's also now at an intersection best known for being a traffic nightmare –&nbsp;the Y at Oak Hill&nbsp;–&nbsp; where two highways intersect and a third road feeds into the jumble. In order to improve that intersection, the state embarked on a&nbsp;<a data-mce-="" href="http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=198583" style="line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(96, 120, 144); margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgb(153, 153, 153);">temporary plan</a>&nbsp;to expand it that would help for the next five years, while something longer term is put into place. The plan included cutting down the Taco Bell Tree, which has been here long before drive-thrus (or even combustion engines).<em style="line-height: 1.5; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">&nbsp;<a data-mce-="" href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/03/12/alright_alright_alright_matthew_mcconaughey_got_it_from_jim_morrison_watch.html" style="font-style: normal; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(96, 120, 144); margin: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgb(153, 153, 153);">All right, all right, all right.</a></em></p><p style="font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/141343300&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 17:53:24 +0000 Terrence Henry 10031 at http://kut.org Why It's So Damn Hard to Move the Taco Bell Tree After Oil Spill, Coast Guard Prepares To Open Houston Ship Channel http://kut.org/post/after-oil-spill-coast-guard-prepares-open-houston-ship-channel As the Coast Guard prepares to open the Houston Ship Channel after an oil spill over the weekend, environmentalists were trying assess the damage to a sensitive ecological system.<p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/oil-spill-cleanup-impedes-major-texas-ship-channel/2014/03/24/736b73be-b30b-11e3-bab2-b9602293021d_story.html?tid=sm_fb">The Associated Press reports</a> the Coast Guard is hoping to reopen "one of the nation's busiest seaports Monday."<p>The AP adds:<p><blockquote><p>"Authorities are still trying to determine how much oil spilled Saturday, when a barge carrying about Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:19:35 +0000 Eyder Peralta 10024 at http://kut.org After Oil Spill, Coast Guard Prepares To Open Houston Ship Channel AG's Office Poised to Weigh In on Plastic Bag Bans http://kut.org/post/ags-office-poised-weigh-plastic-bag-bans <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">As proponents continue to tout the benefits of banning plastic bags, the debate over whether Texas cities like Austin actually have the ability to enact such ordinances has made its way to the attorney general's office.</span></p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/opinions/50abbott/rq/2014/pdf/RQ1189GA.pdf">letter [PDF]</a>&nbsp;seeking an opinion from Attorney General&nbsp;<a href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/greg-abbott/">Greg Abbott</a>,&nbsp;state Rep.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.texastribune.org/directory/dan-flynn/">Dan Flynn</a>, R-Canton, questioned whether the city bans are in compliance with the state’s health and safety laws.</p><p>“At least nine cities in Texas have enacted bans on plastic bags and adopted fees on replacement bags in recent years,” the letter stated. “This appears to be in contravention of state law.”</p><p> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:45:00 +0000 Aamena Ahmed, Texas Tribune 9941 at http://kut.org AG's Office Poised to Weigh In on Plastic Bag Bans Why This Austin Professor's Living In a Dumpster For a Year http://kut.org/post/why-austin-professors-living-dumpster-year <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">An Austin professor has survived the first night in his year-long plan to live in a dumpster.</span></p><p>Dr. Jeff Wilson – aka “Professor Dumpster” – is an environmental science professor at <a href="http://htu.edu/">Huston-Tillotson University</a>. He’s also the face of <a href="http://dumpsterproject.org/">The Dumpster Project</a>, an educational experiment that aims to transform a 33-square-foot trash dumpster into a fully sustainable space.</p><p>"There was no mint on the pillow," he says, "and it wasn't exactly <a href="http://www.whotelaustin.com/">the W</a>, but I did stay warm."</p><p> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 20:13:35 +0000 Kelly Krupa 9722 at http://kut.org Why This Austin Professor's Living In a Dumpster For a Year KUT's StateImpact Texas Talks Keystone XL Pipeline on 'The Takeaway' http://kut.org/post/kuts-stateimpact-texas-talks-keystone-xl-pipeline-takeaway <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The controversial <a href="http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/tag/keystone-xl-pipeline/">Keystone XL Pipeline</a> is taking over national headlines again.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="p2">Last week, the State Department released an environmental review of the pipeline, finding tar sands extraction would have little impact on greenhouse gas emissions.&nbsp;</p><p class="p3">As KUT's&nbsp;StateImpact Texas reports, "tar sands oil&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/us/politics/report-may-ease-way-to-approval-of-keystone-pipeline.html?hp">will be extracted regardless&nbsp;</a>of whether or not the pipeline is built."</p><p class="p4">KUT's Mose Buchele talked with <a href="http://www.thetakeaway.org/">The Takeaway</a> this morning about the impact that&nbsp;the largest oil producer in the world is having in Texas.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="54" scrolling="no" src="//www.thetakeaway.org/widgets/ondemand_player/#file=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thetakeaway.org%2Faudio%2Fxspf%2F345485%2F;containerClass=takeaway" width="580"></iframe></p><p> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 17:05:15 +0000 KUT Staff 9721 at http://kut.org KUT's StateImpact Texas Talks Keystone XL Pipeline on 'The Takeaway' Keystone Pipeline's Southern Section Begins Delivering Oil To Gulf Coast http://kut.org/post/keystone-pipelines-southern-section-begins-delivering-oil-gulf-coast A large section of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline went into official operation Wednesday, in a move that supporters say will help ease the flow of oil to refineries in the Gulf Coast region. Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:11:41 +0000 Bill Chappell, NPR 9622 at http://kut.org Keystone Pipeline's Southern Section Begins Delivering Oil To Gulf Coast How Rain Brought Fall Colors Back to Austin http://kut.org/post/how-rain-brought-fall-colors-back-austin <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Think of fall’s turning leaves, and Texas may not be the first state to come to mind. But </span>Austinites<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> have seen their fair share of autumnal red and gold this year – thanks in large part to recent rains.</span></p><p>Jerry Brand, a <a href="http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/brand/index.html">molecular bioscience professor</a> at the University of Texas, says the color changes in the leaves are due to a specific molecule called a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoid">carotenoid</a>. &nbsp;</p><p>“These color molecules called carotenoids can come in several different colors depending on the plant, depending on the light intensity they’ve been exposed to, and other environmental factors,” Brand says.</p><p> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 14:32:09 +0000 Matthew Alvarez 9229 at http://kut.org How Rain Brought Fall Colors Back to Austin Round Rock Schools Are Saving Big Just By Turning Off Computers http://kut.org/post/round-rock-schools-are-saving-big-just-turning-computers <p></p><p>Most computer users are familiar with sleep mode. But the Round Rock Independent School District has found the value in shutting their computers down completely.</p><p>The school district is expected to save an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.roundrockisd.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=32799&amp;pageId=2385829">estimated $251,000 annually</a>&nbsp;by using a program that automatically shuts computers down after 6 p.m. Over 30,000 desktops and laptops are automatically shut down, drastically cutting energy costs.</p> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 19:00:00 +0000 Roy Varney 9061 at http://kut.org Round Rock Schools Are Saving Big Just By Turning Off Computers Government Shutdown Freezes UT Research Projects in Antarctica http://kut.org/post/government-shutdown-freezes-ut-research-projects-antarctica <p>Science is another casualty of the federal government shutdown. But for Antarctic scientists the effects will linger even after the Congressional impasse is resolved.</p><p>University of Texas research associate and Antarctic geologist Joseph Levy was supposed to get on a plane Thursday headed south for the third and final year of a study about ancient ice.</p><p>But last week he was told to cancel his plans because of a lack of funding, and he says the government shutdown could jeopardize time sensitive scientific research.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F115520221&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Wed, 16 Oct 2013 18:52:42 +0000 Mark Gwin 8946 at http://kut.org Government Shutdown Freezes UT Research Projects in Antarctica How Hundreds of 'Significant Hazard' Dams Escape State Inspection http://kut.org/post/how-hundreds-significant-hazard-dams-escape-state-inspection <p><em>This is part two of a series devoted to looking at the infrastructure of dams in Texas, and what can be done to improve it. You can&nbsp;<a href="http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2013/10/14/many-texas-dams-in-bad-condition/">find part one here</a>.</em></p><p>In 2008, the Texas State Auditor’s office released the kind of report that keeps public officials awake at night.&nbsp; It found that state regulators were not ensuring the proper maintenance of thousands of dams in Texas.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sao.state.tx.us/reports/report.aspx?reportnumber=08-032">The audit</a>&nbsp;found that state inspectors had never visited hundreds of dams that could cause loss of life if they failed.</p><p> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 16:56:34 +0000 Mose Buchele & Mose Buchele 8939 at http://kut.org How Hundreds of 'Significant Hazard' Dams Escape State Inspection How Bad Was the BP Oil Spill? Three Years On, Some Answers http://kut.org/post/how-bad-was-bp-oil-spill-three-years-some-answers <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F112652511" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The extent of the environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico <a href="http://kutnews.org/post/read-dramatic-account-bp-well-blowout">caused by the BP oil disaster</a> is largely unknown to the public; much of the data remains sealed because of litigation. But now scientists at Texas A&amp;M-Corpus Christi are shedding important new light on the subject. And the news is not good.&nbsp;</p> Fri, 27 Sep 2013 11:30:00 +0000 David Brown 8805 at http://kut.org How Bad Was the BP Oil Spill? Three Years On, Some Answers Why Are Texas Children Suing Environmental Regulators? http://kut.org/post/why-are-texas-children-suing-environmental-regulators <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F112585445" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Texas children are suing the <a href="http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/">Texas Commission on Environmental Quality</a>, claiming the TCEQ should have to protect the quality of the air the same way it&rsquo;s required to protect the quality of water.</p><p>As part of a&nbsp;<a href="http://ourchildrenstrust.org/">nationwide movement</a>, the youth are asking the agency to protect water under the public trust doctrine &ndash; the historic idea that the state is responsible for the quality of a shared resource.</p><p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 13:24:56 +0000 Mark Gwin 8789 at http://kut.org Why Are Texas Children Suing Environmental Regulators? Feds OK 20-Year Plan to Protect Barton Springs Salamanders, Keep Pool Open http://kut.org/post/feds-ok-20-year-plan-protect-barton-springs-salamanders-keep-pool-open <p>Swimmers and salamanders can continue their peaceful coexistence at Barton Springs Pool.</p><p>The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is granting the City of Austin a new 20-year permit, keeping the pool open to the public while protecting the habitats of both the Barton Springs Salamander and the Austin Blind Salamander.</p><p> Fri, 13 Sep 2013 20:52:37 +0000 Trey Shaar 8695 at http://kut.org Feds OK 20-Year Plan to Protect Barton Springs Salamanders, Keep Pool Open ERCOT Says Plenty Of Electricity Available Through Winter http://kut.org/post/ercot-says-plenty-electricity-available-through-winter <a href="http://cpa.ds.npr.org/kstx/audio/2013/09/ercot_autumn-1-EP_(2).mp3" class="asset-audio"></a><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Texas is expected to have sufficient levels of stored power to serve peak demands this fall and winter.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> The Electric Reliability Council of Texas released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy on Tuesday.</span><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">ERCOT found that its available generation, even under extreme load conditions, will be more than sufficient for the upcoming fall season starting in October, and sufficient Wed, 04 Sep 2013 14:58:39 +0000 Eileen Pace 8597 at http://kut.org ERCOT Says Plenty Of Electricity Available Through Winter