Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas



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Watch Out Almonds! Pecans Aim to Displace America’s Nut

This is a story of two nuts: the almond and the pecan. In the 1960s the pecan industry loomed large over the almond. But, then, something changed. Since then, the almond crop has seen a nearly 33-fold growth, while the pecan crop has seen little to no growth. But things are looking up for the […]

Dangerous Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer Losing Favor In Texas

In Texas, some of the most deadly explosions have been caused by a substance that otherwise plays a vital role in how we grow crops: ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It’s what blew-up in the small city of West two years ago, killing 14 people. But the use of the popular chemical has suddenly dropped significantly. Maybe […]

Here’s Why the U.S. Banned Crude Oil Exports

It might sound surprising that the U.S. does not allow the export of one of its most valuable and plentiful natural resources — but in the case of crude oil, it’s true. A lot of Texas politicians would like to see the ban overturned, and soon lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives may vote […]

As Crude Oil Rides The Rails To Houston, Texas Firefighters Prepare For The Worst

There was a rail disaster northwest of Houston last week but you probably didn’t hear about it. That’s because it was staged as part of a training exercise at a Texas firefighting school where a new risk is changing the curriculum. It’s scene that’s a nightmare for first responders. A train has left the tracks. […]

Regional Haze, The ‘War on Coal,’ and How Environmental Policy Is Made

Everyone’s heard of the War on Drugs. There’s also, of course, the War on Terror. And as presidential election season heats up – we can expect to hear more about another war.  For years some politicians have accused President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency of waging a “war on coal.” For StateImpact Texas, KUT’s Mose […]

Where are the Water Projects that Are Asking For $5.5 Billion in State Loans?

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) had planned to distribute about $800 million in low interest loans for Texas water projects this year. By the time the deadline for project applications closed, total requests reached $5.5 billion, many of them from urban and suburban parts of the state. The new system of financing was set […]

US Geological Survey to Increase Earthquake Risk Levels in Texas

A seismic hazard map is essentially what it sounds like – a map that shows the potential for earthquakes in certain areas.  The maps give people a sense of the likelihood of earthquakes occurring, where they might occur, and how strong they might be.  The maps can influence everything from public policy to building codes […]

How We Weigh Carbon Emissions: A Radio Drama

Every year humans pump tens of billions of tons of carbon dioxide, or CO2, into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. That CO2 traps heat into the atmosphere, causing climate change. Whenever governments talk about fighting climate change, limiting carbon emissions what they are talking about. But how do we keep track of the CO2 we’re releasing? […]

Rolling Blackouts Highlight Troubles With Electric Grid In Rio Grande Valley

It had been about three years since Texas experienced major rolling blackouts, but they happened this week in the Rio Grande Valley. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the group that manages nearly all of the Texas grid, says the blackouts are related to longstanding problems with the transmission system in the region. Trouble […]

Will Mexican Drilling Bring Texas Profit?

Today, members of the state House Energy Resources Committee met in the Rio Grande Valley town of Edinburg to discuss how a partial privatization of Mexico’s oil and gas sector could impact the Texas economy. Until this year, drilling in Mexico was run by Pemex, a state-owned company.  A change in Mexican law has now partially opened the […]

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