Energy & Environment

Environment
4:45 pm
Tue June 7, 2011

Sealing Your Home Could Result In Harmful Air

Photo by bondidwhat http://www.flickr.com/photos/bondidwhat/

As temperatures soar into the 100s again this summer in Austin, many homeowners will be cranking up their air conditioners. However, unknown to many, the desirable, cooler air they’re breathing could be harmful.

Richard Corsi, a professor at the University of Texas who studies air quality, notices that many U.S. homeowners, particularly those living in warm climates, are sealing up their houses by fixing cracks around their windows, replacing old weather strips, and so on.

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Environment
4:09 pm
Tue June 7, 2011

LCRA Boss Quits

Tom Mason will step down as LCRA general manager at the end of June.
Photo by Lower Colorado River Authority

The man who has been in charge of the Lower Colorado River Authority for the past three-and-a-half years is resigning. LCRA general manager Tom Mason’s last day on the job will be June 30, according to a news release from the agency.

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Environment
1:08 pm
Tue June 7, 2011

Local Waterways Could be Affected by EPA Proposal

Photo by John K http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnkay/

The federal government will be at work this summer on some proposals that could affect waterways you may be familiar with, including the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs. The US Environmental Protection Agency says Supreme Court rulings over the last decade have weakened the Clean Water Act and removed some waterways from federal protection.

According to the EPA, under current Clean Water Act regulations, many small streams that feed into larger streams, rivers, bays and coastal waters are no longer protected by the Act. This means polluting into these waters doesn’t require a permit. The EPA is examining how to change those regulations to ensure waterways are protected.

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Environment
1:53 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Texas Challenges Federal Car and Truck Emission Rules

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Environmental Protection Agency’s rules limiting vehicle emissions are based upon a “legally flawed” conclusion that greenhouse gases are harmful to the public, the State of Texas argued in a brief filed today with the D.C. Court of Appeals on behalf of nine states and dozens of shipping and manufacturing companies.

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Environment
3:54 pm
Wed June 1, 2011

Texas Environmentalists Mostly Disappointed With Legislative Session

A door hinge inside the Texas Capitol
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Texas environmental activists are pleased with changes in fracking disclosure laws and renewable energy initiatives that cleared the state legislature this session, but they are unhappy with cuts to state parks, delays in air quality requirements for oil and gas miners, and environmental legislation that died before making it to the Governor’s desk.

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Environment
2:28 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

Strange Self-Cloning Clam Steals Eggs From Other Clams

Photo by 自分で撮影 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Taiwan-Corbicula_Tairyou.JPG

New research from the Brackenridge Field Laboratory at UT Austin is revealing the secret – and very strange – sexual practices of clams. Corbicula is an Asian freshwater clam that reproduces by cloning. They are physically hermaphroditic, meaning a clam possesses both male and female reproductive systems, but they are genetically male. A species of male hermaphroditic clones might sound bizarre, but it’s not completely unusual in the animal kingdom.

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Environment
11:10 am
Thu May 26, 2011

Rainwater Harvesting Bill Passes Both Texas Chambers

Rainwater can be harvested and stored in plastic or metal tanks, like this collection tank which provides water used to irrigate a nearby garden.
Photo by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service via Flickr.com http://www.flickr.com/photos/agrilifetoday/4923

Rain barrels and other rain catchment systems could soon be installed on state government buildings.

The rainwater harvesting bill made it through the Texas Legislature this week and is headed to the Governor’s desk. HB 3391 requires that future state buildings that are large enough must have rainwater harvesting systems incorporated in the buildings’ design and construction plans.

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Environment
4:07 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Groundwater Bill Closer To Governor's Desk

A groundwater bill making its way out of the Texas Legislature could be used in the future to make some water rights points in court.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

The groundwater bill is closer to becoming a law. The Texas House passed SB 332, which states that a property owner also owns the groundwater beneath their land. The bill goes back to the Senate for a final vote before it goes to Governor Rick Perry.

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Environment
12:29 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Texas House Formalizes Water Rights

Photo by KUT

The Texas House has given its approval to a bill that formalizes landowner’s full ownership of groundwater below their land.

Property rights advocates had pushed for the bill, which allows landowners to pump and sell groundwater, though the state would still be able to impose some restrictions.

Texas is one of the few states that still gives landowners control over the water underneath their property.

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Environment
10:55 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Senate Leader Says He Was “Not Even Aware” Of Fracking Bill

State Sen. Troy Fraser
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A bill that would require natural gas drillers to disclose the mix of chemicals they use in a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing has apparently gone under the radar of the state senator in charge of overseeing the industry.

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weather
5:26 pm
Thu May 12, 2011

High Winds Cause Power Outages Across The City

High winds ripped this branch off a tree located on 32nd St. off Tom Green St. The branch then tore down a power line. Austin Energy crews are working to fix problems like this across town.
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Update at 8:50 am Friday: Austin Energy says power was completely restored to customers at 3 am. Here's their final release.

The majority of outages were due to either tree limbs on power lines or lightning strikes. In all repairs had to be made at more than 260 locations. Many of those repairs were on lines located at the rear of properties rather than at the street. This prevents the use of bucket trucks and requires materials be carried in through backyards, tree trimmers climb trees to remove limbs in power lines and linemen climb poles to make the necessary repairs. About half of the Austin Energy electric system is located at the back of lots rather than at the street.

Update at 5:26 pm: Austin Energy now says the number of people without power is down to 2,400.

Update at 4:50 pm: Austin Energy says the number of people without power is now below 5,000.

Earlier: Austin Energy says it currently has about 11,500 customers without power at 140 different locations across the city. The worst affected area is this part of southeast Austin, where more than 1,700 people are without electricity.

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weather
12:18 pm
Thu May 12, 2011

Rain Drenches Central Texas, Delays Flights, Cuts Power

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

A large area of rain and thunderstorms moved into Central Texas this morning bringing much needed moisture to our drought stricken region.  Almost two inches of rain fell at Camp Mabry this morning with another one to two inches on the way. A flood advisory was issued until noon.

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Environment
2:10 pm
Mon May 9, 2011

UT Team To Probe Environmental Consequences Of "Fracking"

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin will investigate the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", a process used to extract natural gas from shale rock. Fracking has become a widespread practice in the United States and Texas for extracting vast reserves of domestic energy, but it is also the subject of fierce criticism from environmentalists who say it pollutes ground water and air.

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Environment
3:19 pm
Thu April 28, 2011

Preventing Fires Along The Greenbelt

Austin fire investigators say a cigarette is to blame for the apartment fire at the The Woods located just across the street from the eastern portion of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News

Mike May says he loves living right off the Barton Creek Greenbelt. But he knows the apartment complex he is in is at risk during high fire season. So do managers. After burnt coals were dumped in the dog park, the managers started warning tenants about fire dangers.

“They put signs on the fences and things like that when things are going on and they actually just come around and put it on your particular door,” May said.

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Environment
4:52 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Drought Prompts Kyle To Enact Water Restrictions

Photo by Robert S. Donovan http://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/

Extreme drought conditions in Central Texas have prompted the Austin suburb of Kyle to implement Stage One water restrictions.  The biggest implication for home owners is limits on the times and frequency with which they can water their lawns.

Here are the complete details from the City of Kyle's website.

Mandatory Twice Per Week Watering Schedule

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