Texas

Texas
11:39 am
Thu November 3, 2011

BP To Pay Texas $50 Million For 2005 Refinery Blast

BP has agreed to pay $50 million in civil penalties to the state for an explosion six years ago at its refinery in Texas City. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged BP with violating state air quality laws during and after the explosion. The blast in 2005 killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others.

The settlement says BP does not admit any wrongdoing “because of the uncertainty and costs of litigation.” It also prevents the state from being able to sue BP over the claims in the future.

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Texas
12:39 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

State Climatologist: Drought at Least 1 More Year

Two Texas senate committees held a joint hearing Tuesday to discuss the state's ongoing drought.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

What does the future hold for the Texas drought? Two Texas Senate committees heard testimony today on what has become the worst single-year dry spell in Texas history. The state’s climatologist, John Nielsen- Gammon, told lawmakers not to expect relief anytime soon.

“Going forward this drought is likely to last another year at least because the primary trigger of the drought, La Nina in the Pacific, has returned so it’s extremely unlikely we will come out of drought conditions by the winter,” Nielsen-Gammon said during a hearing at the Capitol Tuesday morning. 

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Texas
10:43 am
Fri October 28, 2011

Galveston Island's West End Threatened By Erosion

The west coast of Galveston is eroding while the east coast remains resilient.
Photo by KUT News

Researchers at Rice University say urban development in Galveston Island should be more focused towards its east end. The island's length, width, and thickness sets a far stronger foundation in the long run than its west coast, according to the study, which was funded by the Shell Center for Sustainability.

"The west end of the island is low, and that makes it more susceptible to storm surge and breaching,"  Rice University oceanography professor John Anderson said. "It's also experiencing erosion rates of three to five feet a year, and during major storms those rates can easily be ten times that amount in a single event."

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Texas
1:36 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Drought's Economic Impact Spreading Across Texas

Photo by Molly Jade for Texas Tribune

A year into the driest stretch in recorded state history, most Texans are still far from running out of water. But the devastating economic impact is beginning to extend beyond rural agriculture and into tourism, real estate and other staples of more urbanized economies.

The tiny town of Robert Lee, the self-described "Playground of West Texas,” is already reeling from these problems. 

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Texas
1:31 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Fewer Counties Keeping Burn Bans in Place

Several counties have lifted bans on outdoor burning, but the Texas Forest Service says that doesn't mean the fire danger isn't still quite high.
Image courtesy of Texas Forest Service

At one point in in August, a record 251 out of the state's 254 drought-stricken counties banned outdoor burning. But thanks to last week's cold front and showers, that number has dropped to 220 according to the Associated Press. All the counties around Austin still have bans on outdoor burning. Travis County just readopted one earlier this week.

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Texas
3:59 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

The Biggest Nuclear Bomb Being Dismantled In Texas

This undated handout photo provided by the National Nuclear Security Administration shows the United States' last B53 nuclear bomb. It was dismantled Tuesday at a plant outside Amarillo, Texas.

Anonymous ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Wed October 26, 2011 10:04 am

The Energy Department has quietly dismantled the last of its enormous B-53 nuclear bombs. Workers at a nuclear management plant just north of Amarillo, Texas, separated some 300 pounds of high explosive from the uranium that surrounds it inside the bomb.

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Texas
5:17 pm
Sat October 22, 2011

Immigration Changes Get Mention at Citizenship Workshop

Photo by KUT News

Austin residents looking to become U. S. citizens got some help Saturday navigating the system. Immigrant Services Network of Austin, a coalition of immigrant service organizations, hosted a free workshop.

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Economy
2:02 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

The Top 5 Stats From Today's Texas Jobs Report

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The latest job numbers were released by the Texas Workforce Commission today, and while there's no startling news to report, there are some interesting tidbits:

  1. Texas's employment advantage may be fading. The state's unemployment rate is up to 8.5 percent from 8.2 percent a year ago, while the national unemployment rate has fallen from 9.6 percent a year ago to 9.1 percent this month.
  2. Austin had the lowest unemployment rate among the five largest cities in Texas, at 7.4 percent (same as last month, but up from 7 percent a year ago). The highest? El Paso, at 10.6 percent (up a full point from a year ago).
  3. Much of the state's job creation has come in the private sector, which added 26,500 jobs. But...
  4. The public sector is taking a beating. It lost over 11,000 jobs in September, and has shed 33,700 jobs since September last year.
  5. The highest percentage of job gains in the state came in the "Professional and Business Services" category, which includes professions like accountants, lawyers, computer engineers and the like. They're up 5.3 percent in job gains since last September.

The full release from the commission can be found here, with notes by KUT News.

Justice
1:34 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

As Cost-Saving Measure, Texas Prisons Cut Lunch On Weekends

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 1:30 pm

The state of Texas already made waves in September when it decided to stop honoring death row inmates' final meal requests. The decision was prompted by the huge meal requested by white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer.

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Crime
11:28 am
Fri October 21, 2011

From Botched Morton Case, Hope Emerges in Cold Inquiry

Almost everything that Caitlin and Jesse Baker know about their mother, who was mysteriously murdered 23 years ago when they were small children, comes from memories shared by relatives and from fading family photos of the smiling, petite brunette.

Over the years, aunts and uncles told them stories about their protective and generous sister. Their father recalled the loving wife who seemed to live in her pink sweat suit. Their grandmother shared pictures of their mother’s favorite horse, Molly, and tattered newspaper clippings of articles she wrote as a student journalist.

But no one has been able to answer the question that has tormented the Baker children for years: Who entered their North Austin home on Jan. 13, 1988, and beat Debra Masters Baker to death?

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energy
2:27 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Texas Sets Wind Power Record

Photo by the russians are here http://www.flickr.com/photos/therussiansarehere/

Texas generated the most wind power in its history earlier this month, as more coastal wind farms come online. On October 7, the state generated 7,400 megawatts of wind power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Fifteen percent of all electricity on the ERCOT grid, which covers 85 percent of Texas, was coming from wind power on that day. The previous record, set in June, was 7,355 megawatts.

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immigration
1:46 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

ICE Removes Record Number of Immigrants in FY 2011

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Immigration and Customs Enforcementannounced this week it deported more immigrants during the 2011 fiscal year than it did in any year since the agency's 2003 inception. The total includes more than 216,700 people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors.

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Texas
1:45 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

Lubbock Cleans Up From Dust Storm

The dust storm turned daylight an ominous red in Lubbock.
Photo by timandkris http://www.flickr.com/photos/timandkris/

Life is getting back to normal in Lubbock after a dust cloud shrouded the city on Monday. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper described it as an “end-of-the world sight”, and when you check out this video, you can see why.

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wildfires
4:56 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Where's the Wildfire Benefit Money Going?

Photo by KUT News

Monday night's star-studded concert at the Erwin Center benefiting Central Texas wildfire victims raised more than $500,000. 

We sat down with MariBen Ramsey of the Austin Community Foundation – the beneficiary of the fundraising proceeds -- and asked Ramsey to explain where this money's going to go.

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wildfires
12:59 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

Wildfire Benefit Tonight, McCaul Blasts Federal Response

Firefighters putting out hot spots last month in Bastrop County
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Want to help Central Texas wildfire victims and hear “On the Road Again” performed by the Red Headed Stranger himself? A fundraiser tonight at the Frank Erwin Center will feature Willie Nelson, George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett and Asleep at the Wheel.

Also on the stage will be Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Christopher Cross, the Texas Tornados, Randy Rogers and Terri Hendrix.

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