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The Texas Drought’s Over, But The Texas Slow-Motion Water Crisis Is Not

The latest drought report from the Texas Water Development Board has some good news. After more than five years, spring rains saturated the ground enough to finally end our long drought — our long soil moisture drought. But that doesn’t mean water shortages don’t still plague some parts of the state, and that water challenges wont stay with [...]

Hard Times Come to the ‘Hotel Capital’

This story originally ran as part of KUT 90.5′s series “Meanwhile in Small Town Texas.” Cotulla, Texas, is a small town deep in the oil fields of the South Texas Eagle Ford Shale. It’s a town that bet big on the oil boom. Five years ago the census put the population at less than 4,000 [...]

Keeping Houses Out of Texas Floodwaters Could Cost Billions

Back on May 26th, Houston woke up to flooded freeways and neighborhoods as bayous overflowed their banks. In the Texas Hill Country, homes and bridges washed away and levees broke. But super-heavy rainfall is nothing new in Texas and in fact, it was years earlier that experts had warned that the state was doing dangerously [...]

After HB 40, What’s Next for Local Drilling Rules in Texas?

This year state lawmakers severely restricted the ability of Texas towns to regulate local oil and gas drilling. A law known as House Bill 40 was a reaction to a fracking ban passed by voters in the North Texas city of Denton. Denton has come to represent local fracking bans and clashes between local governments [...]

As EPA Pushes For Cleaner Air, Refineries Push Back

If you lived in Houston in the 1980s, you might have noticed that something has changed about the air you breathe: back then, it was a lot dirtier. But whether it needs to be “cleaner” than it is today is at the heart of debate heating up as new federal regulations are being written. In [...]

Could Evidence of Manmade Quakes Bring Tectonic Shift in Texas Regulation?

There have been earthquakes in almost every corner of Texas since the start of the state’s most recent oil and gas boom. One “swarm” that really captured people’s attention started in the town of Azle in 2013.  When oil and gas regulators at the Railroad Commission of Texas visited the town, local people suggested ways [...]

What Could Reduce The Risk Of Another Catastrophic Oil Well Blowout?

A little before 10 o’clock on the night of April 20th, 2010 multiple explosions blew apart the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Eleven crew members died, 17 more were injured while nearly 100 others narrowly escaped. In the five years since, the drilling industry says it has dramatically changed how it does business to make it [...]

As Deadline Nears for Texas Haze Rule, A Look at How Lawsuits Shape Regulation

Note: This is a text version of a previously posted radio story. One week remains for the public to comment on an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to reduce smog in one of Texas most beloved national parks. The EPA’s plan to limit so-called ‘regional haze’ is one of a slew of new air quality rules [...]

Proposed Law Would Allow Houston To Regulate Mountains Of Coal

State lawmakers are proposing legislation to deal with something we reported on this past December: giant piles of petroleum coke or “pet coke.” It’s a form of coal piling up along the Houston Ship Channel, and it’s leading to complaints from some nearby residents. We recently reported how black mountains of petroleum coke could be seen along [...]

Five Years After BP Spill, What’s Killing Gulf Dolphins?

It was five years ago next month that a BP oil drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers. Millions of gallons of crude spilled into the water. Damage was done to aquatic life. But is the spilled oil now to blame for the deaths of hundreds of dolphins? “The magnitude and [...]

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