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Energy & Environment
2:46 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

EPA's Proposed Emissions Limits Drawing Debate

An oil refinery is shown in the Houston Ship Channel in 2011.
Louis Vest via Texas Tribune

GALENA PARK — In this city east of Houston, petrochemical facilities are a common part of the landscape and a major engine for the local economy.

But they can also be heavy emitters of what the Environmental Protection Agency labels “toxic air pollutants,” such as benzene, which have been linked to health problems like cancer, reproductive problems and birth defects. And at times, the facilities can emit huge amounts of pollution that normally wouldn't be allowed, but are exempt from rules because they happen only when facilities are starting up, shutting down or malfunctioning. 

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Hmm...
1:00 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

What Is That Webby Stuff on Austin Trees?

Fall webworms don't typically do permanent damage but they may further stress already drought-stressed trees.
flickr.com/seabamirum

It’s not yet autumn but fall webworms are showing up on trees across Central Texas.

The caterpillars form webbing on leaves – and spend much of their lives eating those leaves.

"Typically people notice they have fall webworms when they start to see the webbing actually starting to cover the tips of the branches and, if they look closely at those webs or they break open those webs, they'll actually see the caterpillars inside," Wizzie Brown says.

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StateImpact Texas
1:22 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

As Highland Lakes Near Record Low, Will They Ever Fill Again?

The public boat ramp at Cypress Creek Park on Lake Travis has been out of use since the water receded past its end in 2011. Since then, the entire lagoon on which the park is situated has dried.
Dylan Baddour/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas:

The combined storage of the Highland Lakes is expected to approach its record low – 30 percent full – by the end of this summer. After that, forecasters say, the El Niño weather pattern could bring some relief. But how much rain would it take to get them full again?

The total volume of water in the Highland Lakes, the main reservoir for a million people in and around Austin, fell to its lowest level since 1952 (during Texas’ multi-year drought of record) in September 2013. Water flowing into the Highland Lakes hit record lows – just ten percent the annual average — in 2011, Texas’ driest year on record.

Historically, low levels like the ones we’re seeing now have been corrected by massive rain events.

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Texas
4:43 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

How Drug Smugglers Are Taking Advantage of the Texas Oil Boom

Border agents seized a total of 580 bundles of marijuana – totaling 11,973 pounds – from a truck in Del Rio, Texas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

While fracking for oil along the Texas border has become a big business for petrol companies, a new entity seeks to tap into the lucrative market – drug smugglers.  

As infrastructure and activity increases to meet the demand of the booming industry, drug smugglers are starting to take advantage of the new roads and increased traffic, much of which is located on private ranch lands.  

“Because there are so many different companies, and so many different trucks going through that area, it provides a sort of way to blend in if you will,” National Journal writer Ben Geman tells The Texas Standard's David Brown. “Essentially what’s happening is you’ve got smugglers who are stashing marijuana, or other drugs, in trucks that are either 'cloned' to look like one of the industry trucks, or some type of truck that seems to fit right in driving around on these ranch lands.”

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Energy & Environment
1:26 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Whoa! Watch A Spectacular Supercell Take Form In Wyoming

A supercell storm in Clareton, Wyo.
Basehunters Chasing via Twitter

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 4:37 pm

Sometimes some of the most destructive forces in nature can be stunningly beautiful.

On Sunday, storm chasers caught a supercell thunderstorm taking shape in Wyoming. It is absolutely spectacular — the stuff of science-fiction movies:

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Drought and Livestock
10:40 am
Fri May 2, 2014

What Texas Ranchers Can Teach California About the Drought

Ranchers gather inside the Hills Prairie Auction House in Bastrop, Texas. Drought-hardened Texas ranchers have advice to offer their California counterparts.
Karen Zamora for KUT News

How bad is the California drought? Bad enough Texas cattle ranchers can offer some  advice.

California has never seen so little rain over a 12-month period. But in Texas – the nation’s top cattle producing state – drought conditions are nothing new. Due to Texas' ongoing drought, ranchers in Texas lost 15 percent of their cattle from 2011 to 2013 – approximately two million animals.

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Energy & Environment
2:48 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Texas' Biggest Power Company Files For Bankruptcy

The sun shines through the clouds behind an electrical power line in Dallas.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 3:21 pm

As they say: Everything is bigger in Texas.

Today, the state's biggest power company filed for one of the biggest Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in corporate history.

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Energy & Environment
8:31 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Killer Tornadoes Rip Through Arkansas, Oklahoma

Travel trailers and motor homes were piled on top of each other at Mayflower RV in Mayflower, Ark., on Sunday after tornadoes carved through the central and southern U.S.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 12:55 pm

This post was updated at 1:53 p.m. ET

Emergency officials were searching Monday for survivors after tornadoes tore through parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma overnight, killing at least 14 people and leveling entire neighborhoods.

"We don't have a count on injuries or missing. We're trying to get a handle on the missing part," Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said at a news conference Monday. "Just looking at the damage, this may be one of the strongest we have seen."

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