Energy & Environment

Environment
5:04 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

History of Texas Drought 2000-2011

 

 

Our current drought has ravaged crops and pastures, and is contributing to devastating wildfires in West Texas. Using data from the US Drought Monitor, we are able to show you the history of drought in Texas from 2000 to 2011. The higher the bar, the greater percentage of Texas' land mass was in drought.

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Environment
3:41 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Report: "Fracking" Harms Climate More Than Coal

A coal power plant in West Virginia. A new study says hydraulic fracturing, a method used to extract natural gas, is more harmful than coal energy because of the large amounts of methane gas it emits.
Photo by Wigwam Jones http://www.flickr.com/photos/wigwam/

Cornell University researchers are about to publish scientific evidence that a controversial method to drill for natural gas used in Texas and elsewhere is more damaging to the environment than using coal for energy production, reports The Hill.

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Environment
9:46 am
Fri April 8, 2011

Environmentalists Protest Controversial Plastic Bag Bill

It's not everyday you see environmentalists protesting a bill that would require grocery stores to recycle plastic bags.

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Environment
4:01 pm
Fri April 1, 2011

Ozone Season's Greetings!

Austin Mayor Lee Leffignwell marked the start of Ozone Season with a press conference at City Hall.
Mose Buchele for KUT News.

It's that time of year again. 

April 1 to October 31 is ozone season in Central Texas.  These are the months when we expect the highest amounts of ground level ozone in the air. Last year, the Austin area came dangerously close to falling out of attainment of the federal clean air standard of 74 parts of ozone per-billion.  With the Environmental Protection Agency set to announce even stricter standards, it could be even harder for the region to stay in attainment this year.

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Environment
4:51 pm
Mon March 28, 2011

Austin Energy Issuing Rebates For Electric Car Charging Stations

A Chevy Volt charging station on display outside the Austin Convention Center during SXSW 2011.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The city's public utility, Austin Energy, will issue its first rebate check tomorrow for a homeowner who installed an electric vehicle charging station. The rebates are worth up to $1,500. A "Level 2" charging station can be installed for about $2,400.

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Environment
3:49 pm
Sat March 26, 2011

Austin Skyline To Dim For Earth Hour Tonight

Major downtown buildings will turn off their lights for an hour starting at 8:30 pm.
Photo by Justin Fain at Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/fainspawn/3993122523/

Austin's skyline will be noticeably darker from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm as the city participates in Earth Hour, an annual event held across the globe to raise awareness about energy conservation and climate change. 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell held a press conference yesterday to announce the list of buildings that will be going dark tonight (security lights excluded):

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Nuclear Power
1:45 pm
Sat March 26, 2011

NRG Slows Expansion As Feds Review Nuclear Regulations

NRG announced this week it will slow an expansion to add two units to the South Texas Project nuclear power plant in Matagorda County. NRG is waiting to see how federal regulators at the Nuclear Regulator Commission react to the nuclear crisis in Japan.

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Energy
2:36 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

New Mercury Regulations For Coal Plants

The EPA announced mercury regulations that would require coal plants to cut emissions. This plant is the Cliffside Steam Station in North Carolina run by Duke Energy .
Photo courtesy of the Rainforest Action Network on Flickr.

The EPA announced yesterday new national standards for mercury emissions and other air pollutants. Within three to four years, coal plants be required to install new technology to cut back the amount of mercury released into the air from smoke stacks.

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Energy
11:40 am
Tue March 15, 2011

Japan Disaster Puts Texas Nuclear Deal on Hold

South Texas Project nuclear facility, in Matagorda Bay, is in the process of adding two more units.
Photo courtesy of the NRG Energy.

CPS Energy of San Antonio announced today that negotiations over buying power from the South Texas Project [STP] expansion have been put on hold.

NRG Energy is in the process of adding two more units to the South Texas Project nuclear facility in Matagorda Bay.  CPS Energy, NRG and the Japanese company Tokyo Electric Power Co. would be the owners of the expansion, but Tokyo Electric's participation is now in question after a massive tsunami  damaged one of its nuclear plants in Japan.

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Environment
3:57 pm
Thu February 10, 2011

Texas Almost Doubled Computer Recycling in 2010

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Computer recycling in Texas almost doubled in 2010 compared the year prior, according to the state's environmental regulator. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says 24.3 million pounds of old hard drives, motherboards and various other computer parts were diverted away from landfills last year.

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Environment
5:25 pm
Wed February 9, 2011

Report: Austin Has Highest 5th Greenhouse Gas Emissions In US [Corrected]

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Correction: The National Geographic report cited in this story erroneously listed Austin as the having the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the United States.  In fact, Austin has the fifth highest rate of the 19 cities listed. We regret the error. You can view the complete study here.

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Environment
4:29 pm
Fri January 28, 2011

Austin Falls Behind San Marcos In Multifamily Recycling

Image courtesy cote http://www.flickr.com/photos/cote/

If you were asked which Central Texas city was offers the best recycling service, what would your answer be? If you answered Austin, then you could be wrong.

As of February 1st, San Marcos residents living in multifamily units will become the first in Central Texas  to receive a single-stream recycling service. Single-stream recycling allows residents to mix recyclable paper, aluminum cans, glass and plastic in one 90-gallon bin.  Each apartment unit in San Marcos will be billed an extra $5.53 a month for the weekly service.

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environment
10:57 am
Wed January 26, 2011

Las Brisas Permit Approved

The TCEQ has okayed a permit for a coke-fired power plant near Corpus Christi
Image by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved an air permit for the $3 billion Las Brisas petroleum coke-fired power plant in Corpus Christi against the recommendations of two state administrative law judges and the Environmental Protection Agency. (Read the story from KUT.)

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Greenhouse Gases
6:27 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Texas Loses Another Greenhouse Gases Battle with the EPA

New coal plants will now have to obtain permits for greenhouse gas emissio under the new federal law but Texas has refused to comply. A federal court ruled the EPA can take over greenhouse gas regulation in Texas.
Jonathan Warner/Flickr

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied Texas a ruling Wednesday that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from taking over the permitting process for the state's larger greenhouse gas emitters, like coal plants and oil refiners.

The ruling lifts a temporary stay that was granted to Texas on December 30, one week after the EPA announced the new greenhouse gas regulations.

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Environment
12:23 pm
Tue January 4, 2011

Williamson County Extends Burn Ban

Image courtesy Dido http://www.flickr.com/photos/iyadtb/

Williamson County enacted a 30 day burn ban on the first Tuesday in December. That would have expired this week, but dry conditions prompted county commissioners to extend the ban for 60 days.

Here's an explanation of what you can and cannot do:

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Environment
4:43 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Lake Austin and the Hydrilla Plant

Austin has rejoined its battle against the invasive hydrilla plant
Image courtesy City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

Lake Austin is getting lower.  The Lower Colorado River Authority is drawing down the lake's level so that City of Austin crews can do battle with hydrilla, an invasive water plant that clogs the lake. 

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Environment
3:01 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Plastic Bags Could Be Banned In Austin

Plastic shopping bags will be banned in Brownsville this week. Austin is reportedly considering another attempt to do the same thing later this year.
Image by KUT News

Austin city leaders have been talking about banning plastic bags at stores for a while, but signs for such an ordinance look strong this year. 

“We have a report that we’ve been working on, on the cost impact of plastic bags. That study has been presented to City Hall, we hope to have that in the hands of city council within a couple of weeks,” said Bob Gedert, the City of Austin’s Solid Waste Services director.

That report has not been released to the public yet.

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Environment
4:31 pm
Tue December 28, 2010

How Would Peak Oil Affect Your Life?

Drivers currently clog I-35 in downtown Austin and other highways, but some experts say that could disappear in a matter of decades for lack of oil.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

Nationally, gas prices are hovering around $3 a gallon these days. It’s far off the record price of more than $4.10 in the summer of 2008. Remember those days? Well, what about $5 dollar, even $10 dollar a gallon for gas?

To understand the rest of this story, you need to get one concept: peak oil.

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Environment
12:27 pm
Tue December 28, 2010

Holly Power Plant Demolition Bidder Gets Litigious

Image by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

CST Environmental, a company based in San Leandro, California, is suing the city because it wasn't awarded a bid to demolish a decommissioned power plant in East Austin, according to the Austin Business Journal.

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Environment
9:50 am
Mon December 27, 2010

Where You Can Dump Your Christmas Tree in Austin

This map shows where you can drop off your Christmas tree in Zilker Park on the dates listed below.
Image courtesy City of Austin

Starting today, Austin Solid Waste Services pay-as-you-throw customers can leave their trees on the curb for pickup. If you tree is 6-feet or taller, it must be cut in half.


Everyone else can drop off their Christmas trees by the Polo Fields in Zilker Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following days:

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