Texas Parks Will Have Clear Skies 141 Years from Now Under Half-Assed State Plan

Categories: Environment

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NixBC
After all of us and our children are dead, Texas will finally get this pesky ozone problem under control. That's according to a state clean air plan that the Environmental Protection Agency just rejected but Texas environment officials are continuing to defend anyway. Texas environment officials, go pat yourself on the back and then take a nap. You deserve it.

Texas came up with the little sad-sack clean air plan because we were forced to, just like every other state. In Dallas and all the other major American metropolitan areas, the air quality has been consistently terrible. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has been ordering states to come up with ways to do something about it.

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What Does It Mean If Weekend Quakes Were Caused by Fracking?

Categories: Environment

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Joshua Doubek
A dormant fracking site.
Paul Friberg can't say whether the earthquakes that shook North Texas on Saturday, Sunday and Monday were caused by fracking. He says that there are only a handful of instances in the world in which an earthquake strong enough to be felt -- as all three of the recent quakes were -- has been definitively tied to fracking.

Friberg is a seismologist at Instrumental Software Technologies Inc. and recently co-authored a paper about hundreds of earthquakes along a previously undiscovered fault line in Ohio that were caused by fracking.

If Saturday's earthquake, which checked in at a magnitude of 3.3, was indeed caused by fracking it would be among the biggest for which the drilling was at fault. (Dale Grant a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey has said earthquakes of that size are not uncommon for the area around the Barnett Shale, despite them being unheard of before fracking started in the shale.)

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After Banning Fracking, Denton Braces for Backlash from Drillers, a Bush and its Own Lawyer

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Rich Anderson
Denton residents passed a fracking ban, but now it's up to to city leaders to defend it against the powerful oil and gas industry.
Last week, Denton became the first city in the state to pass a citywide ban on fracking. Voters approved the ban in a landslide, with 59 percent in favor of the ban and 41 percent against, after more than five years of struggle between anti-fracking activists and the energy industry.

See also: Denton Fracking Ban Passes, But for How Long?

Now comes the backlash. The General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association are the first, so far, to file suits against the city. Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick is also hinting at legal action, and has announced her agency will continue to grant drilling permits to companies in Denton.

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Dallas' Sprawl Could Go on Forever Thanks to Self-Driving Electric Pod Cars, Researcher Says

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Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler
Plano in 1891
Density is good. Regionalism is bad. Dallas' city government should focus on the city itself, not on getting in good with our suburban neighbors by forming partnerships that hurt the city itself. These are things Unfair Park has heard so often that it basically takes them to be true. For Dallas to become the proverbial "world-class city" it must focus on its urban core, promoting transit, walkability and growing up rather than growing out. If those things don't happen, the thinking goes, then the city's long-term existence is in doubt. We'll be crushed under the weight of toll lanes and the cars of distracted commuters scurrying north at the end of the workday.

What, though, if that wasn't true? What if there was a way forward for auto-centric, low-density cities ringed by suburbs that didn't require a paradigm shift so much as being just a little more purposeful about the trajectory the city was already on?

That's the idea proposed by Dr. Anthony Townsend, the Senior Research Scientist at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at New York University, in his paper "Re-Programming Mobility."

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Denton Fracking Ban Passes, But for How Long?

Categories: Environment

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U.S .Geological Survey
The Texas Oil and Gas Association and General Land Office are the first, so far, to file lawsuits against the city of Denton.

By the time Denton's city offices opened this morning, officials already had two brand new lawsuits waiting for them. As Denton's attorneys begin the weary post-election process of sorting through a legal defense against this inevitable barrage of suits, it's clear the battle over the ban on fracking voters approved Tuesday has just begun.

Denton's proposed fracking ban, which had gained national attention in the last few weeks, passed Tuesday night in a landslide: 59 percent of voters favored the ban, while just 41 percent voted against. This is despite ban opponents far out-spending and out-advertising anti-frackers. Frack Free Denton raised just $75,000 for its campaign, compared with $700,000 spent by pro-fracking groups.

See also: Frackers Have Launched an Aggressive Campaign to Kill Denton's Drilling Ban

But now that the morning-after glow of victory has subsided, the City of Denton must face the mighty backlash of the oil and gas industry. City spokesperson Lindsey Baker confirms that the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the General Land Office are the first so far, though most decidedly not the last, to lash out against the ban.

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Texas' Only Natural Lake Is Polluted With Oil, and the EPA Isn't Paying Attention, Activists Say

Categories: Environment

Texas has exactly one good sized natural lake that we share with Louisiana, and it's totally not getting flooded with oil right now, officials have assured us these last few weeks. On October 13, workers noticed crude oil leaking out of a pipeline and into a Louisiana bayou. The pipeline operator estimated a loss of 4,000 barrels, making it one of the largest spills this year. But while the bayou feeds into the beloved Caddo Lake, the oil has supposedly been stopped in its tracks.

The spill was "immediately contained," a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police told the Wall Street Journal on October 14.

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Nonstop Electioneering Could Sway Last-Minute Decisions on Denton Fracking Ban

Categories: Environment

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Aaron Jacobs
Both Republican and Democratic Denton voters are influenced by last-minute electioneering outside Denton's voting locations

On the last day of early voting in Denton, the Denton Civic Center parking lot was abuzz with one of the most controversial, high-cost issues in Denton history: The fracking ban. The city is considering what would be the state's first citywide ban on fracking. In a state that has eagerly embraced heightened oil and gas drilling in recent years, the passage of the ban would send a powerful message of local environmental concerns to drilling companies across the country.

See also: Frackers Have Launched an Aggressive Campaign to Kill Denton's Drilling Ban

Outside the Denton Civic Center, one of three early-voting locations within the city, both Frack Free Denton and Responsible Drilling representatives raced each other to every car that pulled into the lot. Both had quick speeches and cards prepared to hand out to voters.

Ed Soph, one of the leaders of Frack Free Denton, says the constant, aggressive electioneering has paid off. Soph says he, and fellow Frack Free Dentonites, have won many last-minute votes.

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Underdog Anti-Frackers Struggle for Denton's Vote, But Fight Could Swing Either Way

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Tom Arthur
Dentonites are turning out more than ever for early voting, many in response to the proposition to ban fracking in the city.

As early voting wraps up this week, Denton County has seen a surge in voters, as well as campaign spending. Much of that has to do with the fracking debate, which has also incurred more spending than any other campaign in Denton's history.

See also: Frackers Have Launched an Aggressive Campaign to Kill Denton's Drilling Ban

"It's pretty fair to assume that given how much money is poured into this, that's why so many people are out," says Dr. Adam Briggle, a leader with Frack Free Denton and a bioethics professor at UNT. "Everything now is focused on communicating with voters, especially at the polls, and making sure that they're not confused when they're going in to vote. The language is definitely written by a lawyer. So we want to make sure that folks know that they're voting what they want to vote for."

As of Tuesday night, Denton County election officials report, there was a 16 percent increase in early voting from the 2010 election: 47,035 in-person votes were cast, up from 40,529 on the same early-voting day in 2010.

"I have noticed since I came here that there is great activity," says Lannie Noble, Denton County elections administrator. "We've had people at a lot of early-voting locations trying to get information out to the voters. Most especially here in Denton we've had the fracking parties, for and against, well-represented."

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Texas Drillers Lead the Nation in Pumping Benzene into Earth, Which Is Not Good

Categories: Environment

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Joshua Doubek
Slip through the right series of loopholes and it can be perfectly legal to inject benzene into oil wells. Naturally, drillers in Texas figured this out thousands of gallons of benzene ago.

Using data disclosed by the oil industry, a new report calculates all the benzene that is legally going into wells across the country. There's a lot, it turns out, and it's mostly in Texas.

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Frisco Says Exide Is Being Cheap about Potential Superfund Site Cleanup

Categories: Environment

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Lead makes you dumber, even if you only eat or inhale just a little bit. (Don't take my word for it, see what the scientists are saying). So when Frisco became one of 21 places in the country that failed lead-air quality standards that the feds implemented in 2008, people pointed their fingers at Exide's battery recycling plant in town as a likely culprit.

Exide agreed to close the plant in 2012 and shortly after filed for bankruptcy. Then Frisco officials announced last year that the city would probably keep and contain the lead at the spot where Exide left it, even though researchers say that toxic landfills in populated areas are a terrible idea.

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