A tree trunk is exposed where water used to be in Bridgeport Lake.
Although parts of the state saw massive amounts of rain in October, parched conditions remain a dismal reality for many north Texas towns.
In September, StateImpact spoke with people in two towns – Gordon and Mineral Wells – both scrambling for alternative water sources. Gordon had about four months of water left at the end of August according to the city’s utilities director, Kenneth Epperson.
We recently checked in with Epperson, who says the early autumn months brought no relief.
“We think we’ve got ‘till January the 15th,” he says.
The town had been considering tapping into a lake owned by a local rancher. Unfortunately, that may no longer be an option.
“His is pretty low too; so we’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place,” says Epperson.
According to University of Texas researchers, trillions of cubic feet of methane are trapped under the Gulf of Mexico, frozen.
The U.S. Department of Energy gave Texas over $40 million to research this frozen gas – methane hydrate. As part of a four-year program, researchers will study methane hydrate and evaluate its potential as a new energy source. Combined with funds from other donors, the program has a total value of $58 million.
Ernest Moniz was the keynote speaker of this year's SXSW Eco conference in Austin.
It’s not every day that you get to talk to the US Secretary of Energy about how the oil and gas boom affected your hometown. So, when Alyssa Wolverton saw her chance, she took it.
After delivering the keynote speech at this year’s SXSW Eco conference, Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz took some questions from the audience. That’s when Wolverton, a student at the University of North Texas in Denton, asked him about a proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) within city limits. The town will be voting on the ban this November.
“I was curious to know if you think that your really good idea of diversifying our energy (…) can mesh up with the integrity of our cities that don’t want more advances,” asked Wolverton, who supports the proposed ban.
The conference, called “No Land No Water,” focused on what Lopez believes are inefficient and unsustainable landowning trends in Texas’ flourishing economy.
“In the past 15 years, we’ve seen a little over a million acres of working lands converted to other uses,” he says.
Land conversion can mean more than a loss of grazing space and pretty views. Lopez worries it will further impede water recharge by replacing soft, absorptive ground cover with impenetrable material, like road cement.
New rules proposed by the Obama administration seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants
As greenhouse gases reach their highest concentrations in human history, the Obama administration has pledged to take action on climate change, unveiling a Clean Power Plan this summer to go after a prime target of those emissions: coal power plants. And true to form, that plan is running into opposition from lawmakers and regulators in Texas.
At a hearing of the Texas House Committee on Environmental Regulation Monday, both regulators and lawmakers expressed concern in the feasibility of complying with energy regulations proposed in EPA’s plan.
“One of our main concerns is that they don’t reflect the reality of electric markets, which operate at the literal speed of light” said Brian Lloyd, Executive Director of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. “[The plan] requires very long-life, hugely expensive capital expenses.”
Lloyd said the Public Utility Commission would need to collect an additional billion dollars from ratepayers in order to achieve energy efficiency standards proposed by the EPA. Energy efficiency is one of several initiatives, including renewable energy generation and switching from coal to natural gas power generation shifting, that the agency calls for in its plan.
During a Texas Senate Transportation Committee on Transportation hearing, TxDOT highlighted a $500-million solution enacted by the state to rehabilitate damaged roads linked to heavy oil and gas related traffic in the natural gas hot spot.
John Barton, deputy executive director of TxDOT, broke down exactly how the funds are being used. “We took $225 million and directed it to projects based on the criteria that was established in that bill [HB1025] that asks us to look at the safety in the [road] network.”
TxDOT inspected roadway conditions such as width and truck traffic volume. Continue Reading →
A car tire lays exposed in the dried lake bottom at Lake Abillene near Abilene, Texas.
Summer brought no relief from drought in many parts of Northwest Texas. But storms related to Hurricane Odile could bring some much needed rain. The region, like much of Texas, has been struggling with drought for years. Now some communities there are now faced with a difficult task: find new water, or go dry.
Take the small Texas town of Gordon. Kenneth Epperson works for the Water Department there. By the end of August, the town had about four months of water left for close to 800 users. So he’s looking at his options, one of which is possibly getting water from a local rancher who has a lake on his land and bring it to the town treatment plant via pipeline.
Gordon is just one of many towns facing the prospect of running dry, and because the crisis is regional, stretching across city and county lines, officials are needing to get creative when considering new supplies. “You know, all over, this northwest Texas is kind of in a bind,” Epperson says.