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

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Solar power continues to grow in Texas, new research finds, and that growth is due in part to another renewable energy the state has in abundance: wind.

Courtesy of Ed Hawkins

Texas is hot. That is not news. It has, seemingly, always been hot. Again, not news. Here is some news: A climate scientist visualized the Lone Star State's average annual temperatures. It shows that Texas (which, again – we've covered – is hot) is getting hotter.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Austin and South Central Texas until 3 a.m.

The NWS says damaging winds, hail the size of tennis balls and tornadoes are possible.

Raccoons sitting on a fence
Andy Langager via Flickr

I heard a local story of a man who, in his excitement to kill a rattlesnake, used the only thing he had available ─ his thermos bottle. The next scene in this drama has the man in the hospital receiving anti-venom to treat a snake bite.

Dominic Sherony/CC BY-SA 2.0

Three environmental groups are suing the Trump administration to secure federal protection for lesser prairie chickens.

Travis Bubenik/Houston Public Media

From Texas Standard:

Brownsville, Texas, is one of the poorest metropolitan areas in the nation. But it is now being considered for almost $40 billion worth of investment. Three energy companies are planning projects to bring liquefied natural gas plants to the area – striking community controversy and organized opposition to the proposals.

U.S. Coast Guard / Getty Images

A handful of environmental groups are taking the Trump administration to federal court over its rollback of regulations meant to prevent offshore oil spills.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

An oxygen-sapping, fish-killing swath of algae is headed to Gulf of Mexico this summer.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Facebook is building a massive solar farm in West Texas that's believed to be one of the largest solar projects in the nation and the social media giant's first direct investment in renewable energy.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for Travis County until 10:15 p.m., as a strong cold front begins to leave the area. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Experts say carbon emissions need to be reduced and even removed from the atmosphere to avoid catastrophic climate change. Could carbon-neutral oil be a part of that? One company setting up shop in the West Texas oilfields says yes.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Williamson and Lee counties until 10 p.m.

Salvador Castro for KUT

Protesters could face up to 20 years in prison for interfering with oil and gas pipelines under a new proposal from the Trump administration.

An environmental advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, claiming federal officials are failing to protect threatened species of salamanders in Central Texas.

Wind turbines
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The 2019 legislative session saw fights over renewable energy, climate resilience and pipeline construction. Now that the dust is settling on the field of battle, what do the results tell us about Texas lawmakers' priorities for energy and the environment?

Zebra mussels
Chase Fountan / Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Invasive zebra mussels continue their takeover of Texas lakes and waterways: They've now spread to four more lakes in Central Texas, pushing the boundary of their southern expansion.

The United States Geological Survey reported a 3.1 magnitude earthquake just outside the city of Smiley in Gonzales County, about 50 miles southeast of New Braunfels.
USGS

A 3.1-magnitude earthquake struck about 45 miles east of San Antonio Tuesday morning, marking the third time a quake was recorded in the region in the past week. 

It was a warm, wet winter this year across much of the United States. In most states, this means more greenery, more rabbits, more rodents and more snakes — which raises the risk of snake bites for humans and their canine companions.

Biologist Gerad Fox is standing next to a loud rattlesnake. "Right now he's in a classic strike posture, very defensive," says Fox. "The rattle is a warning, saying, 'Back off. I'm dangerous. You should leave me alone.' "

National Weather Service

Another round of heavy rains and strong winds this evening could bring flooding to parts of Central Texas, forecasters say.

The Mississippi River is rising again as torrential rain falls across much of the Midwest. It's the latest in a series of storms that have flooded major cities and small communities along the length of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers on and off for more than a month.

National Weather Service

Heavy rain is moving through the Austin area — some areas could see up to 3 inches or more this evening.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for Travis and southwestern Williamson County through 10:45 p.m. The rainfall is likely to cause flooding in low-lying areas.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

Rows of chairs in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

On its face, you might think a bill to treat wastewater from oil and gas operations would get the support of environmental groups. But you'd be wrong.

The Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collection
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This is a story about 10-million-year-old bones. But it starts in the 1930s.

National Weather Service

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 7 p.m. for Austin and much of Central and Southwest Texas.

The National Weather Service says potentially severe storms could drop 2 to 4 inches of rain — or more — on the area. 

Salvador Castro for KUT

After months of community protests, a group of more than 20 landowners and city leaders gathered Monday to announce that Hays County and the City of Kyle had officially joined a lawsuit to oppose a natural gas pipeline proposed to run through Central Texas.

Nicholas Suan via Flickr

Central Texas can get pretty rainy in the spring, and I've always wondered why it often seems to rain in the middle of the night. It's like the weather is designed to keep me from getting sleep.

So, I asked meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons if he could explain things. 

“Think about the hot, dry desert air that’s out there in West Texas, and here we have this very muggy, warm air [in Austin],” Fitzsimmons said. “Well, the dividing line between those two air masses is like a little front.”

Skull Creek flows black as it crosses over a country road downstream from Inland Environmental & Remediation Inc. near Altair on April 14, 2019.
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

ALTAIR – For more than two months, the waters of Skull Creek have flowed black, its surface covered in an iridescent sheen. Yellowed fish skeletons line the pebbled banks of the Colorado River tributary and a dizzying, chemical odor hangs in the air.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

City of Austin staff think they’ve found a way to move forward with plans to stabilize land along Shoal Creek after a significant landslide there about a year ago. The process is complicated by the question of who will pay for it, though.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Natural gas is a valuable commodity in most of the world – but not in parts of Texas. Now, in West Texas, oil well operators will pay you to take their natural gas. The practice is called “negative pricing,” and it could change everything from the price of electricity to the use of renewable energy.

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