Energy & Environment

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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Greenhouse Gases
11:44 am
Thu December 23, 2010

EPA Takes Over Greenhouse Gas Permiting in Texas

The Environmental Protection Agency has partly taken Texas' air permitting program. The EPA will issue greenhouse gas permits to facilities in Texas after today's announcement that states are now obligated to regulate greenhouse gases. Texas is the only state that has chosen not to comply with EPA mandates.

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Environment
2:28 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Bottle Deposit Vote Sends Commissioners Down Memory Lane

In eleven states cans and bottles are redemable for a deposit of five to ten cents.
Thomas Hawk www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/

Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously endorsed the so-called  "Texas Bottle Bill" today, a statewide proposal that would introduce redeemable deposits on bottles and cans in Texas.  

The proposal evoked fond memories of childhood among Commissioners. 

"As a kid, it dawned on me that if I would go out and collect empty bottles, and just take them home and collect the deposit, that would be a little business!" mused County judge Sam Biscoe.

"We all did that!" interjected Commissioner Ron Davis, as other commissioners present murmured in agreement.

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Environment
11:55 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Burn Ban Effective Immediately In Travis County

Camp fires like this one are prohibited in Travis County after County Commissioners issued a burn ban today.
Image courtesy Dido http://www.flickr.com/photos/iyadtb/

Citing extremely dry conditions in Central Texas, Travis County Commissioners followed the lead of some neighboring counties today and issued a burn ban. The ban prohibits anyone from burning "any combustible material outside of an enclosure which serves to contain all flames and/or sparks."

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food
3:18 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Austin Sushi Master Says Not All Blue Fin Tuna Is Equally Un-PC

Local sushi chef Tyson Cole says he tries to buy blue fin tuna that is as sustainably raised as possible
Image courtesy Yi http://www.flickr.com/photos/yi/

An American environmentalist group urged consumers to boycott blue fin tuna this week. The Center for Biological Diversity said the species is critically endangered because of overfishing and the BP oil leak. But Austin restauranteur Tyson Cole says his restaurant tries to serve blue fin tuna that is harvested responsibly.

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Wastewater
2:08 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Texas Gets Ticked With Feds Over Water Permit Spat

A wastewater permit issued to the LCRA for its Sim Gideon steam plant holds one of the 80 permits that are in question by the EPA.
Photo by Matthew Rutledge at Flickr.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlo/3925707584/

In another round of disagreements, the Environmental Protection Agency is asking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to take care of water permits that are expired and not in compliance.

The EPA sent a press release yesterday.

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Environment
4:42 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

City Looks at Converting Garbage Stench into Electricity

Organic material rotting in landfills emits methane-rich biogas, which can be captured and converted to energy.
Image courtesy D'Arcy Norman http://www.flickr.com/photos/dnorman/

That horrible stench you smell near garbage dumps? There's energy in those fumes!

Until fairly recently, the technology used to capture methane-rich biogas and turn it into electricity was not taken seriously as an industrial energy source. That's changing. And now the City of Austin is seeing if it should get on board.

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Environment
3:37 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Lake Austin Will Drop By Twelve Feet Next Month

Lake Austin will drop by 12 feet next month to help fend off invasive plants.
Image courtesy atmtx http://www.flickr.com/photos/atmtx/

Annoying, non-native plants are growing out of control in Lake Austin, and the city is asking the Lower Colorado River Authority to drop lake levels next month to help fend them off. Lake Austin is a stretch of the Colorado River between the Mansfield and Tom Miller dams.

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