Energy & Environment

Water, energy, conservation, sustainability, WTP4, pollution, oil and gas, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), recycling, and other environmental issues related to Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Ben Philpott / KUT

Today, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry goes before the U.S. Senate for his confirmation hearing in the hopes of becoming the next secretary of the Department of Energy. 

Of course, Perry famously derailed his presidential bid in 2011 by forgetting the department’s name even as he vowed to abolish it in a GOP primary debate. But, while the former governor may have been – and, according to a New York Times report, may still be – fuzzy on the agency's purview, he is certainly not the only one.

Last year, global warming reached record high temperatures — and if that news feels like déjà vu, you're not going crazy.

The planet has now had three consecutive years of record-breaking heat.

Courtesy of Gabriel C. Pérez

Irving, Texas, oil giant Exxon Mobil must hand over internal documents about global warming to the Massachusetts attorney general, a federal judge ruled earlier this month. It was just the latest development in a strange legal battle that’s sucked in the Texas attorney general and cast a shadow over President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the State Department.

Via Pixabay

The water utility for the City of Austin is hosting two meetings today –  one in the morning and one this afternoon – to look at how Austinites pay for water. The meetings are part of a process called a cost of service rate study that could determine how water rates are calculated in coming years.  

Mose Buchele

On Sunday a group of  birders will meet in Bastrop to take part in the longest running citizen science project in the world. It’s called the Christmas Bird Count, it began 116 years ago.

flickr/senor_codo

With little fanfare the Environmental Protection Agency released a new environmental rule last week that would limit sulphur dioxide pollution from power plants as part of the EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

City officials in Corpus Christi, Texas, are warning residents not to use their tap water — at all — after possible contamination by an unknown chemical.

A press release from the city points to "a recent back-flow incident in the industrial district," and instructs residents to use just bottled water all food preparation, drinking, washing and bathing needs until further notice.

Cooper Neill / Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The controversial oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing can contaminate drinking water under certain circumstances, according to a long-anticipated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report released Tuesday.

Lizzie Chen for KUT

A group of researchers from UT Austin says they’ve created a way to measure the true cost of power in the hopes of guiding America’s energy future.

The study takes into account the fact that the price we pay on our electric bill does not always reflect electricity’s true cost. Some power is subsidized. Some electric sources create public health and environmental problems that aren’t included in the cost.  Then there’s the expense of building and maintaining infrastructure to consider. 

Daniel Reese for KUT News

To say President-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration has public health and environmental advocates worried may be an understatement.  Like a lot of Republicans, Trump wants to roll back environmental protections and some people are already protesting his positions in the streets.

But, beyond protest, how will these groups push their agendas under the next administration? 

flickr/smreilly

Tomorrow, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets in Vienna to try to figure out a way to cut oil production.  For decades OPEC’s set oil prices by controlling supply. So the meeting will be closely watched because it could lead to higher oil prices.

But, the idea to manipulate oil prices by setting limits on oil, didn’t start with OPEC. It started right here in Texas.

UT Jackson School of Geosciences

When a team of researchers left Austin on a scientific expedition to drill deep into an ancient mountain range, fans of weird fiction perked up their ears. 

Eddie Seal / Texas Tribune

During the presidential campaign Donald Trump made a lot of promises about boosting America’s oil, gas and coal industries. Now that he is set to become president, Americans will find those promises easier to make than to keep.

flickr/senor_codo

After years of legal battles, the Environmental Protection Agency has started the process of removing Texas from a list of states that need to comply with requirements of one of its air pollution rules.

Photo by Keystone Pipeline System

After last week’s presidential election, the company that owns the Keystone XL pipeline said it was interested in finishing out the project. The pipeline was originally planned to carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, but the part linking up the pipe on the U.S. border with Canada was stopped by President Obama.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Tonight, the public is invited to give its input at a hearing held by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) over a permit to allow Dripping Springs to dump almost a million gallons of treated wastewater into Onion Creek, about a day upstream of Austin. That idea has many people in Austin very worried. 

Eddie Seal/Texas Tribune

As soon as five years from now, global demand for oil might stop growing. That prediction may not seem surprising, if it came from an environmental group, but when oil giant Shell said as much in a recent conference call, it caused a stir.  Oil companies don’t usually talk publicly about people losing interest in their product.

Lizzie Chen for KUT

Texas generates more wind power than any other state in the country. It’s a fact that a lot of people in the state like to crow about, but a new federal review of which states use the most wind as a percentage of their total electricity generation has called that into question. Texas didn’t make the top 10.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

At the corner of 16th and Salinas streets, Leticia Hurtado and Yolanda Lopez are on the sidewalk formulating their plan of attack. The pecan tree they’re standing under has good nuts, but many of them are too far up in the branches to reach.

Alaska's Bureau of Land Management regularly posts photos and videos of flying squirrels, scampering porcupines, majestic moose or dramatic landscapes.

But the video that went up last week was different. It was ominous. It was mysterious. It was ... the Chena River Ice Monster, as captured by a baffled BLM employee.

The video shows a strange, undulating icy shape appearing to move through the water. The video has a dramatic soundtrack and an overlay of a camcorder, but BLM insisted the footage itself was unedited.

Pages