Environment http://kut.org en What Is That Webby Stuff on Austin Trees? http://kut.org/post/what-webby-stuff-austin-trees <p>It’s not yet autumn but fall webworms are showing up on trees across Central Texas.</p><p>The caterpillars form webbing on leaves – and spend much of their lives eating those leaves.</p><p>"Typically people notice they have fall webworms when they start to see the webbing actually starting to cover the tips of the branches and, if they look closely at those webs or they break open those webs, they'll actually see the caterpillars inside," Wizzie Brown says.</p><p> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 18:00:03 +0000 Laura Rice 10624 at http://kut.org What Is That Webby Stuff on Austin Trees? As Highland Lakes Near Record Low, Will They Ever Fill Again? http://kut.org/post/highland-lakes-near-record-low-will-they-ever-fill-again <p style="margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(68, 68, 68);"><em><a href="http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2014/06/11/as-highland-lakes-near-record-low-will-they-ever-fill-again/#more-37255">From StateImpact Texas</a>:</em></p><p style="margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(68, 68, 68);">The combined storage of the Highland Lakes is expected to approach its record low – 30 percent full – by the end of this summer. After that, forecasters say, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/" style="color: rgb(23, 78, 130); -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; font-weight: bold;">El Niño</a>&nbsp;weather pattern could bring some relief. But how much rain would it take to get them full again?</p><p style="margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(68, 68, 68);">The total volume of water in the Highland Lakes, the main reservoir for a million people in and around Austin, fell to its&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lcra.org/water/water-supply/drought-update/Documents/Fact-Sheet-Drought-by-the-Numbers.pdf" style="color: rgb(23, 78, 130); -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; font-weight: bold;">lowest level since 1952</a>&nbsp;(during Texas’ multi-year drought of record) in September 2013. Water flowing into the Highland Lakes&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lcra.org/water/water-supply/drought-update/Documents/Fact-Sheet-General-Drought-June-2013.pdf" style="color: rgb(23, 78, 130); -webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out; font-weight: bold;">hit record lows</a>&nbsp;– just&nbsp;ten percent the annual average — in 2011, Texas’ driest year on record.</p><p style="margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(68, 68, 68);">Historically, low levels like the ones we’re seeing now have been corrected by massive rain events.</p><p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 18:22:06 +0000 Dylan Baddour 10578 at http://kut.org As Highland Lakes Near Record Low, Will They Ever Fill Again? How Drug Smugglers Are Taking Advantage of the Texas Oil Boom http://kut.org/post/how-drug-smugglers-are-taking-advantage-texas-oil-boom <p>While fracking for oil&nbsp;along the Texas border has become a big business for petrol companies, a new entity seeks to tap into the lucrative market – drug smugglers. &nbsp;</p><p>As infrastructure and activity increases to meet the demand of the booming industry, drug smugglers are starting to take advantage of the new roads and increased traffic, much of which is located on private ranch lands. &nbsp;</p><p>“Because there are so many different companies, and so many different trucks going through that area, it provides a sort of way to blend in if you will,” National Journal writer Ben Geman tells The Texas Standard's David Brown. “Essentially what’s happening is you’ve got smugglers who are stashing marijuana, or other drugs, in trucks that are either 'cloned' to look like one of the industry trucks, or some type of truck that seems to fit right in driving around on these ranch lands.”</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/150632994&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Wed, 21 May 2014 21:43:15 +0000 David Brown & Rhonda Fanning 10469 at http://kut.org How Drug Smugglers Are Taking Advantage of the Texas Oil Boom Whoa! Watch A Spectacular Supercell Take Form In Wyoming http://kut.org/post/whoa-watch-spectacular-supercell-take-form-wyoming <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoO89cqDgJU</p> Mon, 19 May 2014 18:26:53 +0000 10443 at http://kut.org Whoa! Watch A Spectacular Supercell Take Form In Wyoming What Texas Ranchers Can Teach California About the Drought http://kut.org/post/what-texas-ranchers-can-teach-california-about-drought <p>How bad is <a href="http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA">the California drought</a>? Bad enough Texas cattle ranchers can offer some &nbsp;advice.</p><p>California has never seen so little rain over a 12-month period. But in Texas – the nation’s top cattle producing state – drought conditions are nothing new. Due to Texas' ongoing drought, ranchers in Texas lost 15 percent of their cattle&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">from 2011 to 2013</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;– approximately two million animals.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/142367353&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Fri, 02 May 2014 15:40:00 +0000 Karen Zamora 10067 at http://kut.org What Texas Ranchers Can Teach California About the Drought Texas' Biggest Power Company Files For Bankruptcy http://kut.org/post/texas-biggest-power-company-files-bankruptcy As they say: Everything is bigger in Texas.<p>Today, the state's biggest power company filed for one of the biggest Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in corporate history.<p>The filing also marks the colossal collapse of a heavily-leveraged $45 billion bet taken by Wall Street private equity firms.<a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/big-texas-utility-files-for-bankruptcy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&hp&_r=0"> As <em>The New York Times</em> reports</a>, back in 2007 firms including "Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, TPG Capital and the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs" took Energy Future Holdings, Tue, 29 Apr 2014 19:48:50 +0000 Eyder Peralta 10321 at http://kut.org Texas' Biggest Power Company Files For Bankruptcy Killer Tornadoes Rip Through Arkansas, Oklahoma http://kut.org/post/killer-tornadoes-rip-through-arkansas-oklahoma <strong><sub><em>This post was updated at 1:53 p.m. ET</em></sub></strong><p>Emergency officials were searching Monday for survivors after tornadoes tore through parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma overnight, killing at least 14 people and leveling entire neighborhoods.<p>"We don't have a count on injuries or missing. We're trying to get a handle on the missing part," Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said at a news conference Monday. Mon, 28 Apr 2014 13:31:47 +0000 Scott Neuman 10307 at http://kut.org Killer Tornadoes Rip Through Arkansas, Oklahoma The Texas Scientist Reconciling Climate Change & Evangelical Christianity http://kut.org/post/texas-scientist-reconciling-climate-change-evangelical-christianity <p><em>Time Magazine </em>just released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year the list includes Texas Tech climate scientist and evangelical Christian<a href="http://katharinehayhoe.com/">&nbsp;Katharine Hayhoe</a>.</p><p>For <em>Time</em>, actor Don Cheadle wrote "There’s something fascinating about a smart person who defies stereotype. That’s what makes my friend Katharine Hayhoe – a Texas Tech climatologist and an evangelical Christian – so interesting."</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Texas Standard's David Brown recently spoke with Hayhoe about science, her faith, </span><a href="http://time.com/70881/katharine-hayhoe-2014-time-100/" style="line-height: 1.5;">and making TIME's list</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/146409501&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:58:24 +0000 David Brown & Rhonda Fanning 10299 at http://kut.org The Texas Scientist Reconciling Climate Change & Evangelical Christianity 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