Energy & Environment

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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environment
4:01 pm
Mon November 22, 2010

Wimberley Will Switch to Single-Stream Recycling in January

A 96-gallon recycling container in Austin. Wimberley residents will start seeing these in January when the city launches a single-stream recycling program.
Image courtesy Allison Allison http://www.flickr.com/photos/allisonallison/

The southwest Austin exurb of Wimberley, known for its active artistic community, is going to make it easier for people and businesses to reduce landfill waste.

In a news release issued this afternoon, the City of Wimberly said it's switching to a single stream recycling program, allowing both residents and businesses to throw all their recyclables into a single container without having to sort them first.  It's part of Wimberly's three-year contract extension with Texas Disposal Services.

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environment
3:57 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

City of Austin To Produce Reality TV Show On Reducing Waste

Image courtesy kingdesmond1337 http://www.flickr.com/photos/kingdesmond/

The City of Austin's Solid Waste Services Department says it's going to produce a new reality TV program called Dare to Go Zero. The show would air on City of Austin's government channel and is aimed at encouraging Austinites to throw less garbage into the landfill.  KUT News spoke with the City of Austin Solid Waste Services spokesperson Jennifer Herber about the project.

KUT News: What's this idea behind the reality show?

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environment
1:33 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

Texas Ditches Internet for New Wave of Appliance Rebates

The Texas Comptroller is using USPS to run its next round of appliance rebates after a web-based effort in April fell flat.
Image courtesy Texas Comptroller

If you were thinking of buying an energy efficient appliance for Christmas, stop! Wait until after December 20, and the state of Texas will literally give you money to buy it. But after some embarassing problems last spring, you won't be able to file for your rebate online.

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Environment
12:52 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

WTP4 Heats Up Austin City Council Meeting

City Council is taking some key votes Thursday to move Water Treatment Plant 4 forward.
Graphic courtesy of the City of Austin.

Speaker after speaker spoke out for and against Water Treatment Plant 4 during this morning's Austin City Council meeting.  Council members are voting on about $300 million remaining in construction contracts for the plant.  (Take a closer look at the contracts on the council agenda here)

Bill Bunch, executive director of the Save Our Springs Alliance, repeated his plea to council members to vote against the project.  He thinks it’s a waste of money:

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environment
3:05 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Texas to Consider Accepting Low-Level Radioactive Waste From Across US

A Waste Control Specialists facility in Andrews, Texas
Image from Waste Control Specialists' Facebook page

A hearing in Midland, Texas tomorrow will move foward on adopting a process that could allow a low-level radioactive waste facility in West Texas to accept toxic waste from states other than just Texas and Vermont.

The hearing will be held by the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, an organization with representatives from Texas and Vermont. There are about ten such compacts across the US involving two or more states cooperating on radioactive waste disposal.

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parks and recreation
10:35 am
Thu November 4, 2010

Devil's River Land Deal for TPWD Off The Table For Now

TPWD wanted to trade this piece of land for some land it owns plus $7.9 million. But the deal is off the table for now.
Photo courtesy of Laurence Parent.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners decided yesterday to delay considering the Devil's River land deal at their regularly meeting this week. Instead, TPWD staff has been asked to continue working on the project and to explore other ways the agency can aquire land for a new state park or preserve in the Devil's River area.

Commission chairman Peter Holt of San Antonio released this statement in a TPWD press release:

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environment
2:58 pm
Wed November 3, 2010

Plant Near Kyle Leaks 100,000 Gallons of Wastewater into Creek

Officials are investigating the cause of the 100,000 gallon leakage of wastewater into an unnamed tributary of Plum Creek.
Image courtesy of the City of Klye

Environmental experts are currently monitoring Plum Creek after 100,000 gallons of wastewater leaked from a plant in Kyle, a town 20 minutes south of Austin. Per a City of Kyle press release:

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Environment
10:34 am
Wed November 3, 2010

Keep Austin Beautiful Awards To Be Given Today

The 25th Annual KAB Awards were given today to eight exceptional entities commited to beautifying the city.
Photo Courtesy of KAB

The 25th annual Keep Austin Beautiful awards will be handed out today at a luncheon at the Sheraton Austin. The awards are intended to “honor the efforts of businesses, individuals, and community groups, both large and small, that serve as inspirations for greater environmental stewardship.” The awards will acknowledge the contributions of eight different people and organizations, as well as a name a “best of the best” for the organization that has contributed most to the beautification of the city.

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Environment
5:33 pm
Tue November 2, 2010

TPWD Postpones Vote On Devil's River Land Deal

Devil's River State Natural Area is located on east side of the river. TPWD is looking to sell this piece of land for a ranch downstream.
Photo courtesy of © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials have postponed a vote this week that would have finalized a land deal along the Devil's River in Val Verde County near Del Rio.

The vote was postponed pending a public briefing planned for tomorrow at the Texas Parks and Wildlife commission's Conservation Committee.

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sustainability
4:08 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

Dell Is Greenest Large Company in America Says Newsweek

Dell tops a Newsweek list ranking the "greenness" of the 500 largest companies in the US
Image courtesy Flickr user dontthinkfeel http://www.flickr.com/photos/dontthinkfeel/

Newsweek just released its second annual green ranking of America's 500 largest companies. Topping the list is Round Rock-based Dell, which employs about 16,000 people in Central Texas.

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