Energy & Environment

Environment
2:54 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Five Months Later, Lawsuit Against Austin's Bag Ban Still Pending

Although the bag ban has been in place for five months, there is still controversy surrounding the ordinance.
flickr.com/velkr0

Five months ago, Austin cashiers stopped asking, “Paper or plastic?”  And since then, Austin retailers and customers have adjusted to the city ordinance banning single-use paper and plastic bags.

However, the Texas Retailers Association argues banning plastic bags does more harm than good.

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Environment
9:59 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Seeing Smoke? The Reason Behind Austin's Prescribed Burns

The Austin Fire Department now has a specific division that focuses on wildfires and prescribed burns.
flickr.com/kaanah

Smoke will be rising in southwest Austin today near Buda. Austin Water is performing a prescribed burn with help from the Austin and Buda Fire Departments.

The burn will cover over 600 acres of land west of Buda at the Onion Creek Management Unit. The area will burn for up to seven hours, or until around 5 p.m.

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Environment
4:42 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

How Do You Relocate 30,000 Austin Honeybees? Very Carefully.

Randy Oakley and Samuel Oakley set up a one-way trap and a decoy beehive to lure out more than 30,000 honeybees.
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

Some 30,000 honeybees are about to find a more suitable home.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is relocating a massive beehive found in a large oak tree on Highway 183 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

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Environment
4:44 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

New UT Program Takes the Fight to Invasive Species

Although common throughout much of the United States, Fire ants are an exotic, invasive species.
flickr.com/onthespiral

Before crushing those pesky fire ants crawling across your porch, did you ever consider the critters’ effect on the ecosystem? The University of Texas’ newly formed Texas Invasive Species program has $2.7 million dollars to answer those questions and more.

The program, formed with a six-year grant from the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation, utilizes researchers from the Brackenridge Field Laboratory to investigate and protect Texas's ecosystems from exotic invasive species.

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Environment
7:18 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Grim Milestone Looms for Lake Travis: A 50 Year Low

Aerial view of Lake Travis in June
Lower Colorado River Authority

Lake Travis could drop to a  50-year low this weekend, possibly falling below 626.1 feet. 

“When that does occur, that would be the third lowest level ever on record for Lake Travis, and the lowest since November of 1963," Meteorologist Victor Murphy with the National Weather Service said. "It tells us the drought is persistent and ongoing."

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Environment
5:05 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Austin Considers $400 Million, 25 Year Wind Energy Contract Today

Austin Energy is working on its goal of 35 percent renewable energy.
KUT News

Austin Energy is turning to the wind to power the city’s future.

Austin City Council members will look at a contract today that increases the amount of renewable energy purchased by Austin Energy to 35 percent from 25 percent.   

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Weather
9:30 am
Tue June 11, 2013

When Will Austin Reach its First Triple Digit Day?

More rainfall earlier this year should mean 2013 sees (hopefully) fewer triple digit days.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Today marks the anniversary of Austin’s first 100-degree day in 2012, but Austinites have yet to face temperatures in the triple digits this year.

If current weather patterns continue, Austin may only experience a few 100-degree days this summer. That’s according to Cory Van Pelt, a forecaster with the National Weather Service for Austin/San Antonio.

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Environment
7:35 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Hurricane Season Begins

Hurricane Gordon in 2006 as see from Space Shuttle Atlantis
flickr.com/jomatt

Hurricane season officially starts Saturday, June 1, and Texas leaders are calling on Texans to be prepared.

Emergency response agencies staged their annual hurricane exercise Friday at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

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Environment
7:56 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Hays Seeks Alternative Groundwater Sources

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Hays County is looking for alternative groundwater supplies. An open Request for Proposals seeks to pipe in water from aquifers that could be tapped to supplement water from the Edwards and Trinity aquifers.

County Commissioner Ray Whisenant (R-Precinct 4) says the existing supply of water appears to be unsustainable with the county's current growth rate.

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Environment
10:18 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Oil Lobbyists Oversee Protection of Threatened Lizard

Steve Jurvetson via Texas Tribune

When Texas promised to protect a threatened lizard in the oil-rich Permian Basin, state officials entrusted the day-to-day oversight to a nonprofit that sounds like an environmental group: the Texas Habitat Conservation Foundation.

What’s not advertised is the occupation of the board members who created it.

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ENERGY
6:52 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Texas Nuclear Reactor Resumes Operation

South Texas Project, a nuclear power plant of which Austin Energy is a partial owner
STP Nuclear Operating Company http://www.stpnoc.com/photo.php?pageID=30

Austin Energy is getting some of its power again from the South Texas Project. STP is a nuclear power source in the Bay City area where one of four reactors was offline for the past few months because of a fire outside the unit.

On Tuesday it started operating again.

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Environment
7:21 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Pumping from Lake? Get a Contract

Lady Bird Lake
Flickr, Ronnie Pitman http://www.flickr.com/photos/pitmanra/2373739283/

The Lower Colorado River Authority is reminding people who live along the Highland Lakes that you need a contract to pump water from the lakes.

The reminder comes at a time when Central Texans are starting to think about lawn care.

The LCRA wants to keep track of the water removed from the lakes and help educate people about responsible water use. 

Environment
6:36 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

This Spring, Texas Wildflowers Could Be Late Bloomers

StuSeeger/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuseeger/

If you like seeing the wildflowers around Central Texas this spring, get ready for a bigger finish for the season.

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, they say there’s been a slow start, but could be late peak. Cooler weather has delayed the peak of some blooms and it looks like a good late season for flowers that need less rain.

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Environment
6:33 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Texas Mayor: Pray for Rain

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune and Pedro Moura Pinheiro, Texas Tribune

With the drought getting worse by the day, a Texas mayor is turning to a higher power.

He’s asking people to pray for rain.

Odessa Mayor David Turner is calling on community and church leaders to make this Sunday, April 14th, a day of prayer for rainfall.

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Environment
9:29 am
Sat April 6, 2013

'Texas Trash-Off' This Weekend

Groups like one in Crane, TX plan to get out this weekend for the 'Texas Trash Off.'
facebook.com/keepcranebeautiful

This weekend, Keep Texas Beautiful and the Texas Department of Transportation are joining together for 'Texas Trash-Off', which is Texas's "largest single-day litter cleanup" event.

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Environment
7:06 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

How to Report Smoking Vehicles to the State

Low/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/24831034@N08/

If you see a vehicle belching smoke, there’s a way to report it.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality encourages drivers to report vehicles they see that are emitting dirty smoke for more than 10 consecutive seconds.

The TCEQ then sends a letter to the owner suggesting an inspection. Compliance is voluntary.

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Environment
7:21 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

What Will Austin's Stage 3 Water Restrictions Look Like?

dasroofless/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/roofless/5779444286/

No end in sight to the drought, now affecting almost all of Texas. Austin has been under Stage 2 water restrictions since last summer. What do we face from State 3?

This week, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated that less than two percent of Texas is not experiencing drought conditions. The rest of the state has worsened. Here in Austin, chances of rain over the next five days hover between 20 to 40 percent. Experts doubt that will amount to much. Still, water restrictions here will stay at stage 2 … for now.

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Water
4:31 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Purple Pipe Goes Burnt Orange as UT Welcomes Reclaimed Water

Purple pipes at UT-Austin carry reclaimed water, which is recycled wastewater used for non-drinking purposes.
Bobby Blanchard, KUT News

The normally burnt orange University of Texas campus is looking a little more purple.

Today, campus and city officials celebrated the completion of a project that installed purple pipes on campus. The university is estimating these pipes, connected to Austin Water’s reclaimed water system, will save the campus 70 million gallons of drinking water annually.

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Environment
4:04 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Bill Would Hold Tire Haulers Accountable for Illegal Dumping

Tires are getting dumped illegally all over Texas, and the Legislature is considering action.
courtesy flickr.com/yelpar

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the TCEQ counted six illegal piles of tires in Travis County. In fact, the TCEQ has identified only one pile in Travis County with a tire count between 7,300 and 299,999. We regret the error. 

Original story: Next time you’re driving your car, look at all the tires around you. When those tires wear out, they have to go somewhere.

Every year, more than 24 million tires leave the roads in Texas. And many of them are dumped illegally. A proposal before the Legislature today aims to reduce that problem.

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Drought
3:10 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

As Drought Persists, Grocery Prices Rise

The effects of drought caused a rise in grocery prices this year, as Texas and other agriculture producing states grapple with dry farming and ranching conditions.
flickr.com/roofless

The cost of groceries in Texas has gone up as a result of drought conditions in Texas and across the country.

A survey from the Texas Farmers Bureau finds that the price of a uniform basket of goods for an average Texas shopper is $46.40, a five and a half percent rise over last fiscal quarter.

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