Our Top 5 Stories of 2012

As we wrap up our first full year here at StateImpact Texas, we thought it’d be fun to take a look back at your favorite stories from the year. The list is a hodgepodge of articles, dealing with some of the big issues of energy and the environment in the state this year: fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, energy innovation, and, yes, Bigfoot. And so without further ado, here’s the 2012 StateImpact Texas Top Five, in reverse order.

Photo by Flickr user thewhitestdogalive/Creative Commons

Yes, it's legal to hunt and kill Bigfoot in Texas.

5. Is It Legal to Kill Bigfoot in Texas?

One cryptid enthusiast was curious what Texas law had to say about whether or not it would be lawful to kill Bigfoot in the state. And the answer he got from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will surprise you.

4. Real Vs. Artificial Christmas Trees: An Easier Choice Than You Think

It’s an annual struggle for the environmentally-minded: Do I buy a real or a fake Christmas tree? We dove into the question and discovered the answer is much simpler than you might imagine.

Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Can Downton Abbey teach us anything about our energy future?

3. What Downton Abbey Can Teach us About the Future of Energy

The Masterpiece Theater hit has become phenomenon in the states showing the intricacies of inheritance, servile romance and politics of afternoon tea. But the show may also provide a glimpse into our energy future and provide lessons for how to best adapt to major innovations in energy and technology.

2. Four Reasons Why Obama Decided Against the Keystone XL Pipeline

The controversial Keystone XL pipeline that will take heavy oil mined from tar sand pits in Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast made a lot of news this year. There were issues involving the use of eminent domain, safety concerns, and whether or not the pipeline would even be approved. In January, the President denied a permit for the pipeline to cross from Canada into the U.S., but indicated he would revisit his decision if the pipeline’s route through sensitive environmental areas was changed. And a few months later, he vocalized support for starting construction on the southern leg of the pipeline, which will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries in Texas.

Photo courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat failed to disclose millions of dollars in compensation and stock from a drilling company.

1. Review of UT Fracking Study Finds Failure to Disclose Conflict of Interest

University of Texas at Austin energy professor Dr. Charles “Chip” Groat found himself in hot water after failing to disclose what a review panel called a “clear conflict of interest” in his study on the safety of the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” While leading the study that said fracking posed no direct threat to groundwater contamination, Groat was sitting on the board of a drilling company, making millions of dollars. An independent review panel commissioned by the University issued a scathing review in  December, saying his failure to disclose constituted ”very poor judgement” and harmed the credibility of the original report.

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