Environment

Texas
3:45 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Rebranded 'Don't Mess With Texas' Targets Young Litterbugs

The famous "Don't Mess With Texas" campaign underwent a retro makeover to dissuade younger drivers from littering.
dontmesswithtexas.org

The Texas Department of Transportation is reinvigorating its perennial “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign this year to reduce littering among younger Texans.

A 2009 survey from the agency showed that over half of all “active litterers” in Texas were between the ages of 16 and 34, despite 95 percent levels of campaign awareness across all Texas drivers.

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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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Texas
12:56 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Meet the Texas Conservation Corps

Texas Parks and Wildlife Director Brent Leisure swears in corp volunteers today.
Ann Choi, KUT News

A youth organization that worked as a secondary emergency-response team during the Central Texas wildfires has a new name.

Environmental Corps, a service program for American YouthWorks, is now the Texas Conservation Corps. American YouthWorks CEO Pac Smith announced the rebranding today, as nearly two dozen new members were sworn in at the Capitol.

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Environment
7:56 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Free Tree Seedlings at the State Capitol Today

East Texas has nearly 12 million acres of commercial forest land.
flickr.com/dhwright

The Texas Forestry Association is giving away 5,000 hardwood seedlings near the south steps of the Capitol this morning. The association will begin handing out the trees at 8:30 a.m. and will continue until 11:30 a.m. or until the supply runs out.

The seedling giveaway is a biennial tradition. The TFA began their seedling giveaway during the 72nd legislative session to raise public awareness of the tree planting efforts that take place across the state.

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austin
5:15 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Plastic Bag Ban Now in Effect

Say goodbye to the old-style plastic shopping bag.
courtesy flickr.com/adav

If you’re going to the grocery store or planning a quick stop at the convenience store today, you’ll need to bring your own bag. Most businesses within the Austin city limits will have to abide by a new rule that prohibits them from providing paper or plastic single-use bags to customers.

While it will take getting used to, the switch to reusables that goes into effect today is good news to some Austinites.

Longtime environmentalists celebrated the end of an era with a party at Cherrywood Coffeehouse in Austin this week. Featured artist Bill Oliver pushed for a bag ban for decades.

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Texas
6:58 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Central Texas Cleaning Up After High Winds (Update)

A downed tree on the UT campus.
Emily Donahue, KUT News

Update (6:58 a.m.): About 1,200 Austin Energy customers remain without power this morning. High winds yesterday broke tree limbs and brought down power lines.

At one point yesterday afternoon, around 18,000 Austin Energy customers were without power.

Right now, Austin Energy repair and tree trimming crews are working to fix harder-to-reach problems. An Austin Energy spokesperson tells KUT News that power should be restored to most customers by early this afternoon.

Customers should report outages by calling (512) 322-9100.

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Environment
8:05 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Map: Prescribed Burn Closes Slaughter Creek Trail

Austin Water Utility conducts prescribed burns to restore native grasslands.
facebook.com/AustinWater

Slaughter Creek Trail in southwest Austin off of Ranch to Market 1826 will be closed all day today because of a planned prescribed burn.

Austin Water Utility’s Wildland Conservation Division plans to burn about 70 acres of land in the area in order to manage brush and encourage the growth of native grasses.

The burn is expected to take five to six hours. It's not clear when the burn will begin.

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Environment
12:54 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Judge OKs Transocean's $1 Billion Civil Settlement Over Gulf Oil Spill

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 11:10 am

A federal judge in New Orleans has approved a $1 billion civil settlement over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill where 11 men died in April of 2010, the AP reports.

As we reported back in January, federal authorities blamed Transocean "for acting negligently when the rig's crew proceeded with maneuvers to the deep-sea well in the face of clear danger signals that oil and natural gas were flowing."

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Environment
6:50 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Forecasting Climate With A Chance Of Backlash

Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist for WLTX, in Columbia, S.C.
Brian Dressler Courtesy of WLTX

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:31 pm

When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.

The only problem? Polls show most weather presenters don't know much about climate science, and many who do are fearful of talking about something so polarizing.

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Environment
5:47 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Protesters Call On Obama To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

Dr. J. William Hirzy, a chemistry professor at American Universiy, rests outside the rally route with a graph he uses to teach his students about the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 3:33 pm

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out on the National Mall Sunday to encourage President Obama to make good on his commitment to act on climate change.

In his Inaugural address from outside the U.S. Capitol, the president said: "We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

Just a few weeks later, next to the Washington Monument, Paul Birkeland was one of a couple dozen people holding a long white tube above their heads.

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Weather
12:04 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

50 Million People In Path Of Potentially Historic Blizzard

Trying to stay warm, a woman in New York City hung on to her hood Friday.
Justin Lane EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 5:40 pm

(We'll be updating this post; most recently at 6:30 p.m. ET.)

Add up the populations in areas that the National Weather Service is warning will get at least 1 to 2 feet of snow starting Friday afternoon and you quickly see just how serious the situation will be.

About 50 million people are in the potentially historic storm's path.

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Business
8:03 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Seeing Fewer Cars on the Road Today? Here's Why

The City of Austin is encouraging employees to work from home today.
flickr.com/_fabio

If you’re going into work today, you must not have gotten the memo.

Today, many City of Austin employees and employees from some local business are partaking in Austin’s first “Work from Home Day." It's a citywide initiative to reduce the environmental impact of thousands of people driving to work.

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Environment
5:10 am
Thu January 31, 2013

UT Students to Give Tree Seedlings to Bastrop

More than 40,000 lobolly tree seedlings are being extracted and sent to Bastrop.
UT's Campus Enviornmental Center

University of Texas at Austin students who are part of the Campus Environmental Center are helping to reforest the burnt lands of Bastrop by sending the city more than 40,000 loblolly pine tree seedlings.

Vlad Codrea, a graduate research assistant at UT, is overseeing the project at the tree nursery at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday, the Campus Environmental Center will extract the tree seedlings from their containers and package them to be sent to Bastrop.

Codrea said the project actually began in March 2011, before the Bastrop fires, when he first asked for funding for a tree nursery from UT's Green Fee Committee. The Committee reviews environmental projects pitched by UT students and awards grant money so the students can complete these projects. Codrea was awarded a $54,198  grant over four years.

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Environment
7:54 am
Fri January 25, 2013

$29 Million: The Cost of Protecting Central Texas Salamanders

The Jollyville Plateau Salamander.
City of Austin by Mark Sanders

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it would cost $29 million over the next 23 years to designate critical habitat land for four central Texas salamanders.

The service wants to list the Austin blind salamander and three other species as endangered. It also wants to designate more than 6,457 acres of land in Travis, Williamson and Bell counties to help protect them. That acreage is up from 5,983 acres in a previous proposal.

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Business
12:05 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

BBB: Austin Air Duct Company is Cleaning Customers' Wallets

The Better Business Bureau is warning Austin consumers from doing business with a local duct cleaning company.
flickr.com/icyaero-photography

An Austin-based air duct cleaning company is looking a little dirty.

A company known alternately as Austin City Air Ducts, ANS Air Ducts, AC Air Ducts and AOS Air Ducts, advertises cleaning services in ValPak coupons and on group buying websites like Eversave. But the Better Business Bureau says it received several complaints about the company from consumers in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas/Forth Worth.

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Environment
12:31 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Texas Ranks Tenth in U.S. for Sustainable Building

UT's LEED Gold certified Student Activity Center.
University of Texas at Austin

Texas ranks tenth in the country in Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. That's according to a report issued by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that issues LEED certification.

The LEED 100-point scale rates the design, construction, and operation of buildings, neighborhoods, and homes to promote sustainable infrastructure. It looks at factors such as sustainability, water and energy efficiency, materials, indoor environmental quality, as well as design and innovation to issue one of four different levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

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Environment
5:30 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Scientists Close to Testing Tracers for Drilling Fluid

Andrew Barron, a researcher at Rice University, holds up a vial of "nano rust". This fluid may be used to identify drilling operations that are contaminating ground water.
Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas

As the debate over the safety of fracking continues between politicians, environmentalists and oil companies, some scientists may have found a way to test the drilling procedure.

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Energy
4:59 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Wind Industry Secures Tax Credit, But Damage May Be Done

Wind turbines dwarf a church near Wilson, Kan. Although Congress voted to extend a wind energy tax credit, the temporary uncertainty dealt a blow to the industry.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 5:10 pm

The wind energy industry is dependent on something even more unpredictable than wind: Congress. Hidden in the turmoil over the "fiscal cliff" compromise was a tax credit for wind energy.

Uncertainty over the credit had lingered long before the last-minute political push, causing the industry to put off further long-term planning. So while the now-approved tax credit revives prospects for an industry facing tens of thousands of layoffs, don't expect to see many new turbines coming up soon.

Growing Uncertainty

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BP Oil Spill
1:44 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Transocean To Pay $1.4 Billion In Gulf Oil Spill Settlement

The Transocean Discoverer Enterprise drill ship collects oil from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well as workers try to stem the flow of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, June 12, 2010.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 5:10 pm

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig where 11 men died in April 2010, has agreed to pay $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties to resolve Justice Department allegations over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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Environment
3:22 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Austin Resource Recovery Wheels Out Pilot Compost Program

If it grows, it goes: a sampling of acceptable composting materials.
City of Austin

The brown bin and the blue bin have company: The green bin, for compost.

Austin Resource Recovery customers are familiar with the trash bin (the brown one) and the recycling bin (the blue container). But nearly 8,000 customers are now giving the 96-gallon green bin a tryout, in a pilot program to determine the feasibility of a citywide composting program.

In case you’ve been living under a rock – albeit one nowhere near a compost pile –  composting is the process of turning food scraps and organic, biodegradable refuse into a nutrient-rich soil appropriate for gardening and landscaping.

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