REUTERS /US COAST GUARD /LANDOV
A barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel in this U.S. Coast Guard picture taken March 22, 2014. The barge leaked oil into the Houston Ship Channel after colliding with another ship near Texas City on Saturday and emergency responders laid down floating barriers to contain the spill, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.
With no end in sight to containing a spill that may have dumped 150,000 gallons of fuel oil into Galveston Bay on Saturday, the hit to Texas’ economy and environment is already huge — and sure to grow.
The 50-mile Houston Ship Channel, one of the world’s biggest waterways for the transport of petroleum products, chemicals and other materials, remains shut down. Cruise ships can’t depart from key ports. Galveston Bay’s multibillion-dollar recreational and commercial fishing industry is off limits during a peak tourist season. And the scores of vulnerable species in Galveston Bay, most notably birds that are soon to begin their northward migration along the upper Texas coast, are at grave risk.
The type of oil that spilled — a marine fuel oil known as RMG 380 — is black, sticky and particularly heavy. That means that instead of evaporating from the surface of the water like gasoline would, much of it will sink, persisting in the environment for months or even years. While this heavier oil is not acutely toxic, it can smother wildlife, to devastating effect.
“Fuel oil is not easy to clean off anything,” said Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the General Land Office, the state agency that is leading the response and cleanup efforts in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard. “It sticks to things.” Continue Reading
Photo illustration by: Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune.
This article originally appeard in the Texas Tribune.
More than 600 children in a South Texas border town may be prevented from returning to school on Monday because of a long-standing dispute over water rates, which have skyrocketed in recent years amid attempts to make badly needed upgrades to the town’s water infrastructure.
Several attempts at negotiation between the city of La Villa and the La Villa Independent School District have failed, after the district refused to pay more than $50,000 in overdue water bills and the city cut off its water service. School officials say they are being charged too much for water from a mismanaged utility, while the city contends that it needs money to cover millions of dollars in needed repairs to water and sewer treatment systems.
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
The court upheld an EPA regulation aimed at curbing emissions linked to global climate change.
From The Texas Tribune
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is appealing a lawsuit that it has already won — and that was filed by children. Environmental advocates say the appeal shows that the state will go to any lengths to fight the suggestion that it address climate change.
As part of a national environmental movement, a group of youths in 2011 demanded that the commission enact steps to reduce greenhouse gases. The agency refused, and the youths’ parents sued on their behalf.
A year later, Travis County District Judge Gisela Triana ruled in the agency’s favor, saying it could use its own discretion and decide not to institute greenhouse gas regulations. But the commission still appealed, insisting that the court did not have jurisdiction over the case to begin with and that she made an “improper declaratory judgment” — that Texas is responsible for protecting “all natural resources of the State including the air and atmosphere.”
Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images
The Dallas-Fort Worth region wants to spend billions of dollars to secure long-term water supplies as its population continues to explode. But critics say conservation in the region, known for its lush lawns, must come first.
DALLAS — On the northern edge of the city limits, where residents have been subject to watering restrictions for more than a year, a cozy home on less than half an acre has one of the greenest lawns around.
The house is the first in Dallas to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s “WaterSense” label, the agency’s stamp of approval for water efficiency. It is also the only such home in the country that is open to the public for tours and demonstrations. And the Dallas-Fort Worth region — one of the country’s fastest-growing and thirstiest — may be the most fitting location.
In a place where green lawns decked with water-sucking plants like St. Augustine grass and holly bushes are a status symbol, Dotty Woodson, a water resource specialist with Texas A&M University System’s agriculture education arm, said visitors are amazed to learn that the home’s lush zoysia palisades grass only needs watering once a week in the summertime.
“The first thing they say is, ‘Well gosh, here it is August and look at how much we have in bloom!’” she said.
But such outreach programs have yet to make a sizeable dent in the high household water consumption in North Texas. Environmentalists argue that the region must do more to conserve water before spending the proposed tens of billions of dollars needed to build costly new reservoirs or pipelines. Continue Reading