Neena Satija, Texas Tribune

Energy & Environment
2:57 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Texas Buys Conservation Land with Oil Spill Money

An aerial view of fringe marshes around Powderhorn Lake.
Earl Nottingham / Texas Parks and Wildlife

A deal that was decades in the making has finally closed on the largest conservation land purchase in Texas history: Just over 17,000 acres of undisturbed coastal prairie in Calhoun County for $50 million.

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Energy & Environment
2:46 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

EPA's Proposed Emissions Limits Drawing Debate

An oil refinery is shown in the Houston Ship Channel in 2011.
Louis Vest via Texas Tribune

GALENA PARK — In this city east of Houston, petrochemical facilities are a common part of the landscape and a major engine for the local economy.

But they can also be heavy emitters of what the Environmental Protection Agency labels “toxic air pollutants,” such as benzene, which have been linked to health problems like cancer, reproductive problems and birth defects. And at times, the facilities can emit huge amounts of pollution that normally wouldn't be allowed, but are exempt from rules because they happen only when facilities are starting up, shutting down or malfunctioning. 

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Energy & Environment
8:41 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Four Guys and a Boat Tackle a Texas-Sized Water Problem

Workers cut open bags of WaterSavr, an evaporation suppressant, to apply the powder to Lake Arrowhead. WaterSavr's manufacturers claim it will save 30 percent of water that would have otherwise evaporated from the reservoir.
Neena Satija

As the sun rose on Lake Arrowhead late last week, four guys on a motorboat armed with 5,739 pounds of white powder set out to tackle one of Texas' most vexing water problems — evaporation from surface reservoirs. Last year, evaporation cost the state 2 trillion gallons of water, and it has been eliminating as much as 40 million gallons of water a day from drought-stricken Wichita Falls' supply this summer.

The four men, who work for a company called Flexible Solutions, were applying WaterSavr to Lake Arrowhead. The company claims that its product will save the city hundreds of millions of gallons of water by preventing evaporation. At a cost of $400,000 for the product and labor, the city is hoping the experiment, the first of its size in the nation, will work. And the rest of parched Texas is watching. But there are plenty of skeptics.

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Energy & Environment
11:31 am
Wed July 9, 2014

BP Wants Unspent Spill Recovery Money Back

A BP attorney wrote a letter to Gov. Rick Perry requesting the state return a $5 million grant.
Photo Illustration: Todd Wiseman & Kris Krug

From The Texas Tribune

After watching a $5 million grant to Gov.Rick Perry’s office go unspent nearly four years after it was presented in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is asking Texas for its money back.

The funds were given to Texas in September 2010 to help with oil spill recovery, but few of the state and local officials who work on such projects were aware of the grant until a legislative hearing in May. Lawmakers at the hearing were angered and said the money should have been given to agencies with the expertise to spend it. BP was frustrated as early as last winter about the unspent funds and asked Perry to return the money, according to correspondence obtained by The Texas Tribune through an open records request.

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Politics
8:13 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Marijuana: A Potential Cash Crop for Texas Farmers?

Candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, Kinky Friedman at the KUT studios.
Mike Lee, KUT

Vanishing salmon and fields trashed by trespassers are the most common agricultural side effects of marijuana growth in California, experts there say. The idea agriculture commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman promotes of a hemp farming utopia brought on by the legalization of marijuana in Texas, they say, might be more pipe dream than reality.

"It is the green thread that weaves its way through all of our lives," Friedman said of marijuana during an interview with The Texas Tribune's Evan Smith. "This is not about long-haired hippies smokin' dope. It is about the future of Texas."

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