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

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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.

A house is flooded in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

About 2% of U.S. homes are at risk of being flooded by the end of the century, thanks to rising sea levels. And the reason for rising sea levels, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is climate change. But flood risk is not translating into lower property values in some areas along the coast.

Salvador Castro for KUT News

The city of Austin is signaling it intends to sue Kinder Morgan, the company behind the proposed Permian Highway Pipeline — a 430-mile natural gas line that has provoked major opposition in the Texas Hill Country. In filing its Notice of Intent to sue, Austin joins opposition already being mounted by San Marcos, Kyle, the Barton Springs Aquifer Conservation District and a property-owner group called the TREAD Coalition

Julia Reihs/KUT

Low levels of toxic blue-green algae are still present in Lady Bird Lake. According to the Watershed Protection Department, which takes samples from the lake biweekly, there needs to be consistently cool temperatures and increased water flow before any major changes happen. 

Cars drive down East Seventh Street as the sun sets.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin is among 30 cities worldwide where emissions have peaked, according to a new analysis from a coalition of cities dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The dunes sagebrush lizard
Center for Biological Diversity

Environmental groups are suing the Trump administration to secure federal protections for a reptile that makes its home among the shinnery oak sand dunes in West Texas and Southeast New Mexico.

A piece of an old pipeline that ran through the Hill Country in the early 1900s.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Charles Chaney Jr. has Utopia on his mind. The Texas City resident is a month away from retirement, and Utopia is the name of the scenic Hill Country town where his family has lived for generations. He had planned to build a house on land he owns there near his brother and sister.

Now, he’s not so sure.

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