Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas


Drought, wildfires, and extreme weather — is this the new normal for Texas?

Latest Posts

A Strange El Niño Is Bringing Rain To Texas

When you hear about El Niño, you might remember the classic skit where Chris Farley plays “El Niño,” a pro-wrestling tropical storm. What other weather pattern gets its own Saturday Night Live send-up? Well, after a year of waiting, El Niño is here, and it is raging like Farley. But it’s it’s not like anything we’ve seen before. […]

Scientists Are Flying Over Texas Oil and Gas Fields To Measure Air Pollution

A team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA – has been circling over Texas, gathering data. The flights are part of a project to find out exactly how emissions from the state’s sprawling oil and gas fields pollute the air we breathe. When he offered me a seat on the plane, Dr. […]

Sex, Drugs and Plant Biology: Why Much of Texas is Covered in Green Gunk

Every spring clouds of green pollen descend on Austin, bringing misery to allergy-suffering public radio reporters like me and frustrating drivers like DeAunderia Bowens. “You know I just got my car washed and literally got up the next morning and my car was covered with this green stuff!” she said on her way to work. “If […]

How The Oceans Have Dried Texas Out

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 […]

How Hill Country Grazing Led to Cedar Fever in Texas

This story originally ran in 2013, but judging from the tickle in our throats, it seems appropriate to post again.  Your Grandpa’s Cheeseburger Might Be Making You Sneeze For many Texans, ‘Cedar Fever’ has its own place in the region’s pantheon of demons, alongside the likes of the Chupacabra, Yolanda Saldivar, and chili with beans. […]

If El Nino Ever Arrives, It Likely Wont Bring Much Rain

The Climate Prediction Center is out with an update on El Nino.  The weather pattern is often associated with heavy rains, so watching for its arrival has become something of an obsession in drought-stricken parts of the country like Texas. In October, the center was giving odds that the pattern would form before the end of the […]

Options Drying Up For Some Parched North Texas Towns

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 […]

Global Warming And The Texas Surge Of New Chemical Plants

A big, new expansion of a petrochemical plant is under construction in Clear Lake. It’ll make methanol, a key ingredient for producing other chemicals. But will it also make pollution that will add to global warming? The expansion of an existing complex owned by Celanese is part of trend along the Texas Gulf Coast as […]

When Can A Big Storm Or Drought Be Blamed On Climate Change?

Nowadays, when there’s a killer heat wave or serious drought somewhere, people wonder: Is this climate change at work? It’s a question scientists have struggled with for years. And now there’s a new field of research that’s providing some answers. It’s called “attribution science” — a set of principles that allow scientists to determine when […]

Fewer Atlantic Hurricanes Bode Well For An El Niño Winter

There’s a good chance of an El Niño weather pattern forming by the end of the year. That could be good for easing or even ending the Texas drought. But it’s not a sure thing. For meteorologists to know El Niño has definitely arrived, warmer surface water in the Pacific needs to engage with the atmosphere. […]

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