Energy & Environment

Water, energy, conservation, sustainability, WTP4, pollution, oil and gas, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), recycling, and other environmental issues related to Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Raul and Christy Garcia wade through water in East Houston.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn’t liable for flood damage to thousands of Houston homes after the agency cracked open the gates on two massive dams in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

A liquefied natural gas export facility under construction near Quintana, Texas in 2018.
Travis Bubenik / Courthouse News Service

Construction on a hotly contested natural gas pipeline through the Texas Hill Country could proceed quickly after a federal judge on Friday declined opponents’ request to temporarily block the project.

Signs opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Driftwood, Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to give Houston-based pipeline giant Kinder Morgan the go-ahead to clear land for a hotly contested natural gas line through the Texas Hill Country within the next two days, attorneys for the company and the federal government said Wednesday.

Schmutz on a car door Friday afternoon.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Many Central Texans woke up Thursday morning to a delightful sight: a light covering of snow on roofs and cars. But after it melted, what was left was decidedly less delightful: a layer of grime on the car.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Updated at 8:35 a.m. Wednesday.

Snow flurries and sleet are possible Wednesday night, the National Weather Service said, but you shouldn't expect any accumulations on the ground. 

Julia Reihs / KUT

Construction on a 430-mile natural gas pipeline planned to run through the Texas Hill Country reached a milestone this week when pipeline company Kinder Morgan announced it had secured the legal right-of-way necessary to build out the project on private land across the state.

Wikimedia Commons

Austin City Council has approved spending up to $4 million over the next five years on a liquid compound to remove zebra mussels from water intake systems.

Residential property in the Pemberton Heights neighborhood uphill from Shoal Creek was damaged by a landslide in 2018.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The city is abandoning efforts to stabilize a part of the cliff that runs along the Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail near Pease Park after landowners up the hill refused to grant property easements needed for the work.  

A person's sweaty forward
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Last year was the world’s second-warmest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. And the Austin area was not immune to the warming trends.

An oil rig outside Midland, Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The head of the Texas Oil and Gas Association said Tuesday his group agrees fossil fuels contribute to global warming and that the industry will find ways to reduce emissions.

Ranchland near San Angelo, Texas, in Tom Green County.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Cattle ranchers in the Texas Hill Country are facing a tough decision after months of drought.

“You have to decide where’s your quitting point in terms of buying feed, buying hay and feeding your animals,” says Jamie Osbourn, an agent with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension office in Llano County.

Report: Gulf Coast Coral Likely To Face Widespread Destruction By The End Of The Century

Dec 26, 2019
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

Without a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, coral reefs throughout the Gulf of Mexico are likely to face widespread bleaching and collapse by the end of the century, according to a new report from several research universities.

A male house finch
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Bird and nature enthusiasts have volunteered to count and identify as many species of birds as possible within certain areas across North America between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

Ribbons and wrapping paper on display in a store.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

It's the holiday season, and if you celebrate, your trash and recycling bins are likely filling up faster than usual. During the season, you might find yourself standing over one of those bins, holding a byproduct of gift-giving or feasting, and wondering where to toss it. 

Kim Brent / Beaumont Enterprise

Environmental and watchdog groups have long criticized the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for taking it too easy on polluters — and the TCEQ has often countered that its job is to coax industrial facilities into compliance rather than slap them with big fines.

A neighborhood in Houston is flooded after the Addicks Reservoir crested.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A federal judge has ruled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is liable for homes flooded inside the Addicks and Barker reservoirs during Hurricane Harvey.

Solar panels
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Georgetown earned international attention a few years ago by becoming the largest city in the U.S. to run completely on renewable power. Now, the city has chosen a subsidiary of Shell Oil to take over management of its energy holdings.

U.S. Geological Survey

Earthquake activity has skyrocketed in Texas over the last dozen years because of increased oil and gas activity. But those manmade quakes are not included in a long-term earthquake hazard map released Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

When the Trump administration announced plans to roll back Obama-era rules limiting methane emissions from oil and gas operations, even some in industry cried foul. Many saw the regulations as a modest attempt to curb Earth-heating emissions.

A fire burns at a chemical plant in Port Neches
Kim Brent / Beaumont Enterprise

Officials in Jefferson County are telling the city's residents to evacuate amid air quality concerns a week after two explosions and a fire at a chemical plant in Port Neches.

The beach in Port Aransas
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Plans for a crude oil export terminal in Port Aransas have provoked strong opposition from environmentalists and local groups worried about what the project could mean for the Gulf Coast and the popular tourist community.

Kim Brent / Beaumont Enterprise

Officials lifted evacuation orders Friday for around 50,000 people on the Texas Gulf Coast, determining a massive fire was finally under control at a chemical plant rocked by two major explosions two days earlier.

Bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue bridge.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

White-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has decimated bat populations, is spreading in Texas. Scientists are trying everything from vaccines to UV lights to control the disease. Now, they’re asking the public for help.

Kim Brent / Beaumont Enterprise

The Port Neches chemical plant where two explosions and an ongoing fire prompted widespread mandatory evacuations Wednesday has a years-long history of state and federal environmental violations.

Kim Brent / Beaumont Enterprise

Officials say they have no estimate for how much time is needed to bring under control a Texas chemical plant fire ignited by a series of explosions.

A feral hog
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Feral hogs attacked and killed a woman outside a Texas home about 40 miles east of Houston, authorities said Monday.

People sit in a banquet hall during a condemnation hearing.
Mose Buchele / KUT

Kay Pence owns a ranch in the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg. About a year ago, she got a call from the pipeline company Kinder Morgan. The caller told her the company planned to run a section of its 430-mile Permian Highway natural gas pipeline through her property. Pence didn’t like that.

A Rio Grande cooter, type of turtle
National Park Service

An environmental advocacy group is launching a broad lawsuit in an effort to secure federal protections for 274 plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act.

A fertilizer plant in West, Texas
Filipa Rodrigues / KUT

Days before President Barack Obama left office in 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule aimed at preventing tragedies like the 2013 explosion and fire in the tiny Central Texas town of West that killed a dozen first responders.

Nathan Bernier / KUT

Many Central Texas school districts have announced delayed openings this morning, as temperatures dip below freezing and ice has been reported on some roadways in the Austin area.

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