West Texas

Bill Ebbesen /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

Even as much of American life has been on pause over the past few months, a plan to move radioactive nuclear waste to West Texas continues forward, with the support of the federal government. The proposal for a facility at a remote part of the Texas-New Mexico border has been up in the air for years, but a new federal report says it should be approved because environmental risks are low.

Julia Reihs/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

It’s a clear, cool morning in West Texas, and about 50 people are watching a helicopter wind its way around the south side of Elephant Mountain – a brown, flat-topped summit about 30 miles south of Alpine. The sun isn’t all the way up yet, but you can tell that the helicopter is hauling some unusual cargo.

Along one rugged stretch of the Rio Grande, U.S. citizens routinely cross the border into the United States illegally. A shortage of basic services in rural Texas, such as health care, means U.S. citizens rely on Mexican services and rarely pass through an official port of entry on return.

Informal, unregulated crossings have been a fixture of life for generations in rural communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Today, however, with the unrelenting focus on border security, this kind of unfettered back-and-forth by U.S. citizens is rare.

Natalie Krebs/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Many Millennials, who are often saddled with student debt and face a sometimes shaky job market, have put off large purchases like homes. But that’s not the case in Midland.

Screenshot from Twitter/@NtfbVoice

From Texas Standard:

Representatives from Texas food banks will gather at the Capitol on Tuesday to talk with legislators about food insecurity and lobby for ways the state can help. Food insecurity is a bigger problem than some may think. The term doesn't just describe people who are going hungry; it also describes people who don’t have the household resources to consistently buy healthy food.

KUT

From Texas Standard:

With communities bowing under the stress of school overcrowding, soaring traffic fatalities, drug abuse and strains on the power grid, more than a dozen top U.S. energy companies have pledged $100 million toward easing the stresses caused by the natural gas boom in the Permian Basin area of West Texas.

KUT News

From Texas Standard.

The Permian Basin is in another oil boom. Output is reaching record highs and it’s expected to grow even more. But one issue facing the area is water. Water is necessary to sustain life, but natural gas companies need it for fracking operations, as well. Now, the city of Midland will become the second city in the Permian Basin, after Odessa, to make a deal with an energy company to take over some water management.

Sculpture © Haroon Mirza; Courtesy the artist and Ballroom Marfa. Photography by Emma Rogers

From Texas Standard.

The next full moon falls on June 27. In the west Texas desert near Marfa – if you are in the high desert grasslands just east of town – you may spot an unlikely arrangement of large black or granite stones like a Texas Stonehenge. As the sun sets on that day, that megalith will begin to come to life.

JBColorado/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Summer is coming. The kids are about to get out of school, and that means trips to the pool. In Texas, there is one pool that stands above the rest – the pool at Balmorhea State Park, a true desert oasis. Generations of Texans have gone west to cool off in the spring-fed pool near the foothills of the Davis Mountains. This year, there’s a problem, though.

Natalie Krebs

From Texas Standard.

Out in the sand dunes of west Texas, a tiny lizard has been wrapped up in a big controversy for years. The four-inch long dunes sagebrush lizard calls the middle of the Permian Basin home, but conservationists have long feared the oil boom there would be detrimental to the lizard’s rare habitat. But in the past year, a new threat has emerged.

Nicolas Henderson/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Does the Wink Sink ring any bells for you? It is, as the name implies, a pair of giant sinkholes near the town of Wink, located about 60 miles west of Odessa. One of the reasons why they’re remarkable is that they’re unique, though that may not always be the case.

New Demand, Same Old Story: West Texans And Their Water

Nov 15, 2017
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

This piece is Part 4 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

In arid West Texas, where rain is infrequent and rivers and lakes are few, groundwater – water from sources beneath the surface of the earth – is key to survival. And as the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin demands more of this resource from the surrounding area, researchers are scrambling to study the systems of webbed aquifers that feed households, farms, ranches and industry in the region.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

This piece is Part 3 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

For generations, Texans have visited the desert oasis of San Solomon Springs for recreation, refreshment and rejuvenation. And for almost as long, the springs have powered the economy of the tiny town that sits next to them; Balmorhea. But now, an expanding industry is bringing big change to Balmorhea.

Travis Bubenik

This piece is Part 2 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

It was almost three years ago when the oil industry took a nosedive.

The headlines told stories of lost jobs and struggling towns,but now, despite the continued downturn, things seem better. At least in the Permian Basin of west Texas.

Untapped: The New West Texas

Nov 15, 2017
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

This piece is Part 1 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

The Permian Basin in West Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year, drilling operations have moved south and west into a region long written off as undevelopable.

Chris Hunkeler via Flickr

The group that manages almost all of the Texas electric grid has decided it's a good idea to build out more transmission lines in West Texas. That in itself might not sound like a big deal, but the reason behind it is. KUT's Mose Buchele joins Morning Edition host Jennifer Stayton to explain.

Why a West Texas Nuclear Dump May Be a Short-Term Fix

Jun 28, 2016
David Bowser / Texas Tribune

A West Texas site wants to get its hands on the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. And if a National Academy of Sciences report is to be believed, this may be safer than the status quo.

Spent nuclear fuel rods are about the width of a Sharpie, a few yards long and deadly for hundreds of thousands of years. And, even after 60 years of commercial nuclear power, the Department of Energy (DOE) has no storage plan.


Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Even after a weekend full of panels and discussion of Texas politics and policy at The Texas Tribune Festival, many political wonks are looking to the main event: January's new legilative session. 

State Senator José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, sat down with Texas Standard host David Brown during the festival to discuss the upcoming legislative agenda, the state's budget surplus, the upcoming election for governor and more.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

It’s been one year since a fertilizer plant exploded in the town of West, Texas – just north of Waco.
15 people were killed and more than 150 were injured. Dozens of buildings were also destroyed in the blast.

A year later there are many signs of recovery and rebuilding in the small town.
But, for some, the rebuilding process has been difficult.

West resident Loretta Volcik says overall, the past year has been filled with one thing: Questioning.

The Den Gallery

This story was originally published on Nov. 29.

Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis: They’re all famous musicians who also moonlighted as visual artists.  

Now, Joe Ely – the Flatlander known by many as the Springsteen of the Southwest – joins their ranks. Ely has been keeping sketches, drawings and photographs since he began life on the road in his teens traveling the U.S. and Europe.