Southlake Residents Emit More Carbon Dioxide Than Anyone Else in North Texas

Categories: The Environment

UC Berkeley Cool Climate Network
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have done it. Using science, they've confirmed your deepest suspicion: Southlake really is the worst.

In this case, it's not the exceptionally high number of traffic tickets they hand out. It's the exceptionally large amount of carbon dioxide (90.8 tons) the average Southlaker belches into the atmosphere every year.

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Dallas Will Decide on Plastic-Bag Ban in March. For Real This Time.

March. That's when the Dallas City Council will finally decide whether to ban single-use plastic (and paper) bags.

That was the takeaway from today's council briefing on the subject, the umpteenth since Councilman Dwaine Caraway launched his crusade last March.

For the first hour of the meeting, it looked as though the issue would stagnate as council members retread the same tired ground they've been covering for the past 10 months: Caraway said the bags are an eyesore and environmental nuisance that have to go; Sheffie Kadane countered that businesses and consumers should be allowed to determine the best course; Scott Griggs chimed in with things like "we have a system in place where our externalities are not internalized."

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Texas Comptroller: Fracking-Like "Game-Changer" Could Avert Looming Water Crisis

Categories: The Environment

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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Few people are kidding themselves that the $2 billion voters set aside for water projects in November will be sufficient to quench Texas' growing thirst. The population is growing too fast and the prospect of drought looms too large. Coping with that will take some combination of new infrastructure, technological advances and the slaughter of the firstborn.

Most agree that will also take a good deal of conservation as well, but you won't find that mentioned much in Comptroller Susan Combs' new special report on Texas' looming water shortage. Instead, the report suggests that Texas can invent its way out of its water problem.

Unclear on what exactly that will entail? Combs helpfully translates that into a language Texans can understand: petroleum.

"In many ways, the outlook concerning fresh water could mirror what has happend [sic] for oil, another finite resource," the report says. "Oil markets have been upended in the last few years by vast new supplies brought to market by the application of new technologies, in this case the use of increasingly sophisticated horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques.

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The Keystone Pipeline Solution: Hipsters and Mormons Riding Bicycles

Categories: The Environment

SWA Group
It was always the answer. What better way to pave over fears of spills and an unlocked ocean of carbon than by literally paving the soil above the Keystone XL pipeline with a bike path stretching from Canada to the Texas Gulf?

The concept, rendered in hilarious detail by the SWA Group (the design firm behind Google's corporate campus) apparently pitched the plan to the State Department this month. It's at least half tongue-in-cheek, but SWA has a track record of turning blighted landscapes into well-manicured blighted landscapes. In Houston, it transformed a foul waterway into one with shrubbery, trees and a concrete path called Buffalo Bayou.

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TCEQ Dismisses Dallas Docs' "Knee-Jerk" Call for Stricter Limits on Coal-Fired Power Plants

Two months back, the Dallas County Medical Society petitioned the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to crack down on emissions coming from Luminant's three coal-fired power plants in North and Northeast Texas, which are among the nation's dirtiest.

They based their plea on a white paper commissioned from a Rice University environmental engineering professor showing the ozone, sulfur dioxide, mercury and nitrogen oxides the plants belch out contribute to increased rates of asthma, chronic lung disease, heart attacks, and "premature death" in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The TCEQ listened to DCMS' argument on Wednesday and promptly rejected it. Here's The Dallas Morning News' Randy Lee Loftis:

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Dallas Councilman Philip Kingston Wants to Kill Off "Wrongheaded" Lawn Whisperer Campaign

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You know the Lawn Whisperer. He's the vaguely irritating bearded gentleman, inexplicably decked out in safari garb, whose mug is plastered on buses, billboards and television sets by way of encouraging North Texans not to water their yards so much.

Philip Kingston, the freshman member of the Dallas City Council, is not a fan. At the council meeting this morning, he proposed killing him off.

"I have not been able to find any metric that shows the effectiveness of this campaign, and I think it's just wrongheaded," Kingston said.

His objections came as the council prepared to extend its "public awareness campaigns for water conservation and grease abatement" for five years at a cost of $7 million.

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Dallas' Wastewater Is Actually Making the Trinity River Cleaner

Flickr user fusionpanda
It's fun to joke about the filthiness of the Trinity River. It's even more fun to remind Houston that all that urine and feces and prescription medication we flush down our toilets winds up in their water glasses. By all means, this should continue.

At the same time, it's worth being mindful of a tiny piece of irony: The millions of gallons of wastewater that Dallas, Fort Worth, and their upstream neighbors are sending down there are actually making it cleaner.

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Zebra Mussels' Takeover of Texas Quickly Becoming Inexorable

A zebra mussel-encrusted current meter pulled from Lake Michigan.
The war for Texas' lakes continues apace, though it doesn't look like wildlife officials are holding the line. Despite the state's best efforts to get us to just dump the damned water out of our boats, zebra mussels may have established beachheads in two more North Texas lakes.

DNA from the hardy Eurasian mollusk, terror of aquatic ecosystems and water infrastructure, has been identified in Joe Pool Lake and Lake Worth. So far, no adult zebra mussels or their larvae, called veligers, have been found. They were discovered last week, however, in Lake Belton, south of Waco, by an alert Texas Mussel Watch volunteer who spotted one clinging to the shell of a giant floater mussel. Texas Parks and Wildlife discovered they were already well-established in Lake Belton.

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Most Texans Believe Global Warming Is Real, Just Not that People Are Causing It

Categories: The Environment

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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Good news: The vast majority of Texans think global warming is real. Seventy percent, according to a just-released study from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. That's way more than one might expect from listening to the people they choose for statewide office and proof that Texas' massive, multi-year drought has been persuasive to all but the most stubborn climate-change deniers.

Now for the not-so-good news: Fewer than half of Texans, 44 percent, believe that climate change is caused "mostly" by people. A plurality of them, 47 percent, think there is "a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening."

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Lake Ralph Hall, Texas' First New Reservoir in Decades, Gets Final OK From State

The future Lake Ralph Hall
U.S. Representative Ralph Hall isn't dead. The Rockwall Republican hasn't even left Congress, forging ahead in a Bob Barker-like battle against the ravages of the time. Despite all that, Hall is now the namesake of a reservoir.

Lake Ralph Hall hasn't actually been built yet. The project, planned for 12,000 acres in Fannin County, about 80 miles northeast of Dallas, has been in the works for a decade as the Upper Trinity Regional Water District has sought to lock up an extra 30 to 45 million gallons of water per day for its exploding population. Otherwise, it predicts that Denton County will run out of water by 2025.

The lake is now one huge step closer to reality. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved water use permits for the lake on Thursday, the second-to-last major hurdle. Upper Trinity makes its case to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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