The historic USO Building in Marfa, TX. (Travis Bubenik/KXWT)

The historic USO Building in Marfa, TX. (Travis Bubenik/KXWT)

Texas Tornados in Marfa Saturday Night – Show to Benefit KXWT

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!


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The EPA's ECHO website uses data from state pollution regulators to compare compliance and enforcement. (Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas)

The EPA's ECHO website uses data from state pollution regulators to compare compliance and enforcement. (Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas)

Texas Slams EPA Website that Compares State Pollution Enforcement

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.


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Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor says deploying National Guard troops won't solve the crisis at the border. (Travis Bubenik/KXWT)

Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor says deploying National Guard troops won't solve the crisis at the border. (Travis Bubenik/KXWT)

Chairman of Border Sheriffs Coalition says National Guard Troops Won’t Solve Humanitarian Crisis

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.”


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Dr. Adrian Billings, chief medical officer of Presidio County Health Services, speaks to attendees of a community health clinic in Marathon, Texas. Photo courtesy of the Denton Record-Chronicle. (2012)

Dr. Adrian Billings, chief medical officer of Presidio County Health Services, speaks to attendees of a community health clinic in Marathon, Texas. Photo courtesy of the Denton Record-Chronicle. (2012)

First Rural Medical Residency Opens on U.S./Mexico Border Through Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Permian Basin

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.


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The historic USO Building in Marfa, TX. (Travis Bubenik/KXWT)
The EPA's ECHO website uses data from state pollution regulators to compare compliance and enforcement. (Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas)
Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor says deploying National Guard troops won't solve the crisis at the border. (Travis Bubenik/KXWT)
Dr. Adrian Billings, chief medical officer of Presidio County Health Services, speaks to attendees of a community health clinic in Marathon, Texas. Photo courtesy of the Denton Record-Chronicle. (2012)
(Travis Bubenik/KRTS)
(Travis Bubenik/KRTS)

Despite Obstacles, Solar Gains Ground in Texas

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.

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Bennett Jones points to the solar panels he helped design for Alpine Public Library, July 2014 (KXWT/Tom Michael).

Small-Scale Solar Energy Projects take Advantage of Abundant Sunlight in West Texas

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.”

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The Acacia Solar Plant in Presidio, TX has been online for just a year, but it's re-vamped the city's power infrastructure. (Travis Bubenik/KRTS)

As Solar Grows in Texas, Border City Provides a Model

For most of its life, the small border city of Presidio, Texas has been on the edge of the electric grid.

This rugged part of West Texas has seen a major upgrade of its transmission lines over the past five years, but Presidio’s Economic Development Director Brad Newton says before that, it was pretty much the Wild West of the grid.

“We were working off the old wooden poles that were put about the same time they were filming Giant,” he says, “and electrical outages were very common in Presidio.”

As part of our look at solar power in Texas this week,we went to see how after those new lines were put in, the city turned to the sun to make what used to be regular blackouts and power surges a thing of the past.

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(Recurrent Energy)

The Solar Challenge In Texas: Lessons Learned From Arizona, California

Texas has been called an energy superpower. Fracking technology is allowing Texas producers to extract vast amounts of oil and natural that were once out of reach.

The state pumps more natural gas that any other. And it leads the country in wind energy. But Texas ranks eighth in solar power.

Three attempts by the state legislature to give incentives to solar have failed. The economics of solar in Texas stand in contrast to the rest of the Southwest. And a prominent Texas regulator says solar should not receive any government assistance to expand its footprint.

The United States Department of Energy says Texas represents 20 percent of the country’s potential solar output. So why is solar sluggish in Texas? Blame it on mix of policy choices and economics.

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Cattle from Durango, Mexico arrive at Ganadera Chihuahua near Presidio, Texas,  July 11, 2013. Citing unspecified threats, USDA banned its inspectors working here in 2012. That ban has now been lifted. (Lorne Matalon)

USDA Changes Border Policy – Agents Return To Shuttered Mexican Inspection Pens

The USDA has rescinded a 2012 ban on inspectors working at what was until two years ago the largest single point-of-entry for Mexican cattle into the United States.

The lifting of the ban signals a small but significant shift in border policy for the agency.

After shuttering five border inspection stations in 2012, USDA is signaling that some places on the border are safe enough to continue its work along this hardscrabble slice of the border.

In returning to this part of Mexico, the agency is hoping to invigorate a cattle trade that’s been hurt in both countries.

For 80 years, Mexican cattle grown chiefly today for the American fast food industry has made its last stop on the trip north here, Ganadera Chihuahua in Ojinaga near the Texas border.

That ended two years ago. Mexican veterinarian Jesus Vaca thought his career might be over. Until the ban, he worked closely with USDA agents.

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