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

Florian Martin / Houston Public Media

The cleanup of millions of gallons of waste and polluted water is far from over four months after a large fire burned for days at a Houston-area petrochemical storage site.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A new study reveals more evidence that oil and gas companies are significantly under-reporting how much natural gas they burn off into the air in Texas.

A bird feeder and birdhouse on Hill Country property that the pipeline would go through.
Julia Reihs / KUT

A new front has opened in the legal battle against a 430-mile natural gas pipeline planned through the Texas Hill Country, this time focusing on how the project will impact the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This July is on track to be Earth’s hottest month ever recorded, and that spike in heat is part of a larger warming trend that could change the way governments and researchers measure extreme temperatures.

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it's raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

Flooding in Houston after Harvey
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday urged city leaders and residents to prepare for potential severe weather this weekend.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

You might have noticed the weather’s been cooler this year in Austin, at least relatively speaking. After all, it’s July and Austin hasn’t hit 100 degrees yet.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The City of Austin is expected to consider changes to the land development code and drainage rules by the end of the year, speeding up its timeline to mitigate increased flood risk in the area.  

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

DALLAS – A recent collaboration involving the Texas A&M Forest Service and NASA scientists could help urban planners in Texas more quickly coordinate recovery efforts following a natural disaster.

Julia Reihs / KUT

A Travis County judge has ruled construction on a natural gas pipeline through the Texas Hill Country can proceed. The state district court decision Tuesday marks a major setback for landowners and local governments that sued to stop energy company Kinder Morgan from using eminent domain to build the pipeline.

The control room at ERCOT headquarters
Julia Reihs / KUT

This summer, there's a higher likelihood than ever that Texas might not have enough electricity to go around. If you turn on the AC and nothing happens, you’ll want to know why. It helps to remember legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.

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.

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