A coal power plant in Fayette, Texas (Andy Uhler/KUT News)
Earlier this year, the earth hit a frightening milestone: carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached its highest level since humans have inhabited the earth. The last time there was this much carbon on the planet was nearly a million years ago.
As the heat-trapping gas proliferates, the world warms, and the climate effects domino: droughts intensify, floods increase, ice melts and seas rise. The question now isn’t whether human activity is changing the global climate; the question is what to do about it.
The Obama administration proposed new ruleslast month that would take a first step in curbing carbon emissions from power plants in the U.S. Their target? Coal power plants. The response to the rules from Republican leaders in Texas was predictable: Gov. Rick Perry said the regulations “will only further stifle our economy’s sluggish recovery and increase energy costs.” And Attorney General (and candidate for Governor) Greg “I go into work to sue the Obama Administration” Abbott vowed to fight the “job-killing” rules just as he’s fought other rules from the EPA.
But Texas may want to sit the fight over the new carbon rules out: because they could be an economic windfall for the state, to the tune of billions of dollars a year.
DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw (at far end of table, speaking) addresses the select committee. (Ryan E. Poppe/TPR News)
Texas lawmakers are questioning the heads of state agencies about the overall cost analysis related to the influx of border crossings.
The legislative committee is charged with determining the short-term and potential long-term financial impact that could cost taxpayers $17 million per month.
The House Select Committee on the Fiscal Impact of State Border Security Operations was set up to study what the influx of Central American migrants is costing state agencies. State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, questioned Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw about when he could say the state-led surge has been successful.
“The way I view it is that when the numbers in the Rio Grande Valley go below 2,000 illegal aliens a week, that’s the intended objective to achieve that,” McCraw said.
McCraw said in the first week the DPS detained over 6,000 people coming across the Texas border, the following week that dropped by 45%.
Video shown to Denton City Council by citizens concerned that flares at drilling sites threatened neighborhoods (Cityofdenton.com)
In Texas, a government official has warned that groups opposed to fracking might be acting on behalf of Russia.
In Colorado, a TV ad portrays fracking opponents as goofy idiots who believe the moon may be made of cheese.
The attacks on drilling opponents may reflect how deeply concerned the industry has become over citizen-led efforts to curb fracking, the now widely-used drilling technique that’s dramatically increasing oil & gas production from shale rock formations.
Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor says deploying National Guard troops won't solve the crisis at the border. (Travis Bubenik/KXWT)
Governor Rick Perry has announced his plan to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border in response to the recent influx of Central American migrants.
Perry says the troops are needed to protect against threats from Mexican cartels and other criminals, but the Chairman of the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition says it’s an unnecessary move.
Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor spoke with us about Perry’s plan.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to infiltrate the area with a lot of troops,” McIvor says. “I think you put a lot of fear into the people that live in the area.”
Join us in Marfa this Saturday night (7/26) for a show by the legendary Texas Tornados with Flaco Jiménez, presented by the Viva Big Bend Music Festival.
Part of the proceeds from the show go to support your local, non-profit public radio station. Come out for a night of dancing, Texas tunes and public radio love!
The show takes place at the historic USO Building in Marfa, TX from 9-11:45 pm. Openers Jay Boy Adams and Zenobia get things started at 9 pm, and the Texas Tornados go on at 10:30 pm.
Tickets are available at the door – give us a call with more information at 432-580-9130 or toll-free at 800-903-5787 – or just visit Viva Big Bend’s website for more information on the festival’s lineup!
Compared to other states, Texas has a consistently higher percentage of major industrial plants with “high priority violations” of air pollution laws. Yet, compared to other states, Texas does far fewer comprehensive inspections of polluting facilities.
Or at least, that’s what data seem to show on website run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Not surprisingly, Texas, with a history of fighting the EPA at every turn, says the website has “tremendous potential” for being misleading, deceiving, and inaccurate.
There’s a crisis in the nation’s healthcare. The lack of family doctors, an issue throughout the U.S., is a problem felt most acutely in rural regions, which lacks doctors of all specialities. But a possible solution to make up this deficit has made its way to the U.S/Mexico border, opening here in Texas.
Rural Medical Residencies, where medical students are placed in rural settings for at least two years of their medical training, is a model currently used in a handful of places around the country. The idea is to train doctors in the places they are needed most.
This week we have examined the opportunity and challenge for solar power in Texas. There are no state mandates or incentives for solar.
And the head of the Public Utilities Commission says Congress should end solar’s 30 per cent federal tax credit.
Despite that landscape solar is breaking through in parts of Texas, providing models that renewable energy advocates hope will resonate in the rest of the state, starting with the price of solar power.
Electricity is sold by the kilowatt hour. It refers to the use of 1000 watts used over the course of an hour. A typical U.S. household uses 900 kilowatt hours a month.
The average cost of a kilowatt hour in Texas is about ten cents, nationally it’s about 12 cents. The City of Austin is building solar farm that will deliver at less than five cents a kilowatt hour. Money talks. And that’s a loud voice.
Continuing our weeklong series on the future of solar power in West Texas, we take a look at small-scale solar projects around the Big Bend region.
Tom Michael reports on the advances in technology and affordabilty that have made solar an increasingly realistic investment for homeowners and small businesses.
The Big Bend region is ranching country. Miles of barbed-wire fences, cows clustered in the distance, and windmills on the horizon. Those windmills, of course, draw well-water from the ground. It’s alternative energy, but it’s old technology.
Preston Fowlkes and his family has been in ranching for generations. For the past five years, he’s been replacing his old windmills with solar panels for his water wells, especially in remote locations.
“And we’ve used windmills in the past, but were just not reliable. In my opinion it’s become the best alternative., versus a generator or a windmill or an engine which requires fuel.”