Scrap Metal Yard, between Hirsch and Lockwood, Buffalo Bayou, Houston, Texas
Houston area residents who live near some scrap metal recycling facilities are inhaling dangerous levels of a metal carcinogen called Chromium Six. It’s the same pollutant at the heart of the class action lawsuit portrayed in the film Erin Brockovich.
The Houston Chronicle first reported about the pollution in 2012, after the city received 189 complaints over five years about red and yellow smoke, explosions, fire, and difficulty breathing in the affected areas.
State Representative Gilbert Peña, a Pasadena Republican, introduced a bill, HB 3760, that would give regulators at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) more oversight over metal recyclers. At a committee hearing on the bill Tuesday, Peña said the solutions required by the bill would be simple. Continue Reading
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
A weed grows out of the dry cracked bed of O.C. Fisher Lake in July. The drought has taken a severe toll on Texas' lakes and rivers.
Over the last several years, climate patterns from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have exacerbated the historic Texas drought. A reverse in those patterns could bring Texas abundant rains over the next couple decades, according to State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.
But, Nielsen-Gammon says, long term trends give Texans no reason to break out the champagne. Global climate change means the next major drought could be even worse than this one.
The Texas climate is sensitive to weather cycles in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and neither has favored precipitation in the state since 2005. “The Pacific Ocean has been unfavorable for rainfall since about 2000 or 2005. The Atlantic Ocean has been unfavorable since 1995,” Nielsen-Gammon said.
Economists and state officials are reaching for their calculators as to predict how the Texas economy will respond to lower oil prices. We’re already seeing falling oil and natural gas revenues pinch incomes and constrain spending, including layoffs at some energy companies. But is there also a silver lining? Could the downturn in the energy sector also mean savings at pump and a new eagerness to spend?
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
State Parks are seeing more visitors. Above: Palo Duro Canyon, in the Panhandle.
Lower Gas Prices = More Road Trips
The average price of gas in Texas dipped to $1.82 a gallon in late January, and though it’s climbed back to $2.17 today, it’s still a dollar cheaper than the state average a year ago, according to the Automobile Association of America (AAA). The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration predicts the average price of gas will remain under $3 per gallon for the coming year.
With those savings, drivers are starting to hit the road more. Continue Reading