environment

Austin
1:22 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Cheap Dining Till Thursday For Bike-to-Eat Week

KUT News

Biking this week will save you more than just gas money. Bike-to-Eat Week (BTEW) is a project giving cyclists discounts at certain locally owned restaurants in Austin. All you have to do is show up on a bike to automatically receive a 10 percent discount on any of these restaurants.

“The idea is to bring restaurants which are part of the local community, the Austin community, on the radar of the cycling community,” says Christopher Stanton, executive director and founder of the Ghisallo Foundation, which created Bike-to-Eat Week. “This will as a result bring the idea of engaging with that cycling community at large to the restaurant.”

Read more
Weather
1:04 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

In Houston, Billboards Go Digital This Hurricane Season

Digital billboards like this one can display emergency alerts.
Photo courtesy Clear Channel Outdoor

The Texas Gulf Coast is preparing for the upcoming hurricane season.

Today emergency and traffic officials tested digital billboards that will provide emergency messages throughout the Houston area.

Drivers saw a message that said, “Emergency Alert: This is only a test.”

Read more
Environment
5:16 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Earth Day Weekend Roundup

Starting tomorrow and lasting through Monday, Austin celebrates Earth Day.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/usnationalarchives

Once a hippie holiday, now a fully mainstream observance (especially in Austin), Earth Day 2012 is coming this Sunday.  Get your credit card and your Djembe drum ready, because here in town, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Mother Earth, and give a little something back.

SHOPPING

Over 110 Austin businesses will donate five percent of their profits to environmental causes, such as Friends of Barton Springs Pool and the Hill Country Conservancy.  That makes Sunday a great time to do grocery shopping (Whole Foods and Wheatsville Food Co-Op are participating), go to the cleaners (at Eco Clean Garment and Laundry), or take your pet to the vet (at Austin Vet Care), to name a few participants. 

Read more
Environment
3:50 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

How to Opt Out of Receiving Phone Books and Junk Mail

Austinites can opt-out of receiving mailings like phone books.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/19melissa68

It’s often remarked that in the Internet age, the phone book is obsolete. And now, with a few keystrokes, Austinites can opt out of receiving them.

Austin Resource Recovery has partnered with the nonprofit organization Catalog Choice to offer a registry where citizens can elect to stop receiving phone books and certain types of junk mail – the dead-tree version of a “Do Not Call” list. You can register at https://austin.catalogchoice.org.

Aside from the environmental impact, the city notes the cost savings it may realize from saving on cleanup of unwanted litter. “More than 100 billion pieces of unsolicited mail are received by Americans each year—and municipalities foot the bill for waste collection and disposal,” the city notes in a release announcing the initiative.

Read more
Energy
8:26 am
Tue April 17, 2012

U.S. Has A Natural Gas Problem: Too Much Of It

Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to coax out oil and gas has led to a natural gas boom that the U.S. market is having trouble absorbing.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 6:43 am

There's a boom in natural gas production in the United States, a boom so big the market is having trouble absorbing it all.

The unusually warm weather this winter is one reason for the excess, since it reduced the need for people to burn gas to heat their homes. A bigger reason, however, is the huge increase in gas production made possible by new methods of coaxing gas out of shale rock formations.

Read more
Nature
11:19 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Check Out the World's Largest Summer Bat Colony

The Bracken bats, seen leaving their cave at dusk.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/jenbooks

The Mexican free-tailed bats living under the Congress Avenue Bridge are renowned as the world’s largest urban bat colony. But their cousins in the Hill Country are no slouches either.

New tours are beginning at the Bracken Bat Cave, on the outskirts of San Antonio at the Natural Bridge Caverns, where participants can witness the evening exodus of bats from what’s called the world’s largest summer bat colony -- period.

Unlike the bat watching along Lady Bird Lake, the tours aren’t free: they costs $25. But they're being held in conjunction with Bat Conservation International, an Austin-based group dedicated to preserving bats and their habitat.

Read more
Environment
11:50 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Recent Report Adds Fuel to Fracking Debate

This image produced by the Departme nt of Energy explains the hydraulic fracturing process.
Image courtesy fossil.energy.gov

A newly-released report on fracking – the practice of pumping hydraulic fracturing fluid into wells to break up and extract oil shale and natural gas deposits – has caused something of a stir in Texas.

Read more
Texas
11:56 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Keystone Pipeline Sparks Property Rights Backlash

Image by Todd Wiseman/Jay Root, Texas Tribune

As the White House and Congress battle it out over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian company that wants to build it is still using its land-seizure powers to get property easements for the ambitious project.

And it’s ruffling some feathers in a politically conservative patch of Texas.

Several landowners along the proposed pipeline route say TransCanada has bullied them into selling their property by asserting “eminent domain” authority, the same power that governments use to seize land for highways and other public infrastructure projects. A property rights coalition tracking the condemnation proceedings has uncovered at least 89 land condemnation lawsuits involving TransCanada in 17 counties from the Red River to the Gulf Coast — cases that could test the limits of a private company's power to condemn property.

Read more
Austin
8:54 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Top Morning Stories 2/17/12: Fracking and Groundwater, $90 Million More for F1 Track

An image from the UT Energy Institute's report on fracking.
Image courtesy Chesapeake Energy

UT Study Says Fracking Doesn’t Directly Contaminate Groundwater

A new report by the University of Texas at Austin released this week says there’s no direct link between groundwater contamination and hydraulic fracturing – a controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil from shale formations.

The research was done by UT's Energy Institute. The report’s authors say contamination is often the result of above ground spills or mishandling of wasterwater, but not caused directly by fracking. 

Fracking involves blasting water, mixed with sand and chemicals, underground to fracture rock and improve the flow of natural gas and oil. The practice is used at the North Texas Barnett Shale.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is also studying the environmental effects fracking may have on groundwater. Its preliminary results differ from the UT study.

Read more
Austin
4:12 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Blowing in the Wind: A Plastic Bag Ban Timeline

Austin's plans to ban single-use bags have been revised several times.
Photo courtesy www.flickr.com/arselectronica, Ramin Bahrani

Plans to phase out single-use plastic bags at Austin retailers are still up in the air.

Austin Resource Recovery, the department tasked with drafting an ordinance banning the bags, has drafted and scrapped two separate ordinances in as many months. But with a lull before the department rolls out their third (and presumably final) draft, now is as good a time as any to pin down their previous proposals.

Read more
Austin
3:47 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

City Warns About Fires In Large Compost Heaps

This compost heap is probably not large enough to spontaneously combust, but should still be properly maintained.
Photo by cool.as.a.cucumber http://www.flickr.com/photos/smreilly/

Spontaneous combustion is real, at least when it comes to compost heaps.

Large commercial compost heaps of over 12 feet tall can become dangerous if not properly maintained, says Lauren Hammond, spokesperson for Austin's solid waste services department.

She says, the conditions have to be "just right" for a pile to self-ignite.

The record triple digit heat we've been experiencing can raise the temperature of a compost pile above 160 degrees. Mix that with the various gasses that are released from decomposition and the abundance of dry organic material, and you could have a real fire hazard on your hands.

Though most residential compost piles are no where near 12 feet tall, Hammond says, they still need to be maintained and monitored weekly.

Read more
Environment
11:40 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Drought Hurts Some Insects and Helps Others

Photo by Prashant Maxsteel http://www.flickr.com/photos/prashantmaxsteel/

The drought presents both good and bad news for Austinites struggling with insect and pest populations. Ants and mosquitos are in decline right now, while spider mites and chinch bugs are thriving.  

Texas Agri-Life entomologist Wizzie Brown says that hot dry conditions are good for some insect populations and bad for others. She says the number of fire ants at ground level and mosquito populations drop during droughts.

Read more
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.

Read more
Environment
12:17 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Buy Stuff, Help Earth

View in a larger map

It's Earth Day, in case no one told you already, and all the businesses plotted on the map above (also listed here) have vowed to contribute 5 percent of their gross receipts today to local non-profits devoted to ecological preservation and the environment.

Read more
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.

Read more

Pages