December 3, 2013 6:30 am
The $4 Billion Texas Electric Bill
Our StateImpact reporting project has been looking into how Texans may have to foot the bill for billions of dollars in new power plants. It's a possibility if the state decides customers need to subsidize big power companies to make sure there's enough electricity on the hottest days. But it's highly controversial — and not just in Texas.
November 26, 2013 6:30 am
Is A Gridlocked Congress Good For Texas Oil & Gas?
Last week, there was a lot of news out of Washington about the "partisan gridlock" that has prevented Republicans and Democrats from compromising and passing laws. It's an important issue to the Texas oil & gas industry. In some ways, the industry thinks it could benefit more if the federal government does less. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling explains why that is.
November 19, 2013 6:30 am
License To Drill: How Ex-Felons Can Operate Oil & Gas Wells In Texas
There's a lot of money being made in Texas with the surge in drilling for oil & gas. Maybe you've thought about how you could get a piece of the profits by investing in some of the wells. If so, StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling has a warning: The person running the company might be a felon — and that's just fine with the state of Texas.
November 13, 2013 6:30 am
As Texas Petrochemical Industry Booms, Warnings Of What Could Cause Bust
Early next year, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case that some say could have serious consequences for the Texas economy. The case involves new rules for industries that pollute the air. The state of Texas brought the case because it says those new rules could be devastating to profits and employment in the refining and petrochemical industries. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling wanted to find out what's known about the cost of reducing pollution.
November 5, 2013 6:30 am
Texas Oil Drillers Look For Ways To Snuff-Out Flared Gas
The oil industry is staying busy in Texas. State regulators are issuing over a thousand permits a month to allow the drilling of oil wells. But the state is also issuing hundreds of permits to burn millions of dollars worth of natural gas — just to get rid of it at the oil well site.
October 28, 2013 6:30 am
Would Igloos Lower Risk Of Fertilizer Explosions?
Six months ago in the town of West, a fire at a fertilizer storage facility caused a massive explosion, killing 15 people. In coming weeks, federal regulators are supposed to submit their proposals for what could be done to reduce the risk of explosions where chemical fertilizer is store by the ton. There are at least 74 such facilities in Texas alone. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling looked into what changes might protect communities, including the use of buildings that look like igloos.
October 17, 2013 6:30 am
Why Fracking's Gusher Of Geothermal Energy Is Wasted
Across Texas, oil and gas companies have drilled thousands of new wells, bringing up millions of barrels of oil and vast quantities of natural gas. But something else has been shooting up to the surface: millions of gallons of water. Often times that water is very hot — which means it could be put to a very good use. But it's not. Here's why from StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling.
October 10, 2013 6:30 am
How Oil & Gas Drillers Are Trying To Earn Creditability With Environmentalists
Over the next two years, the federal government will start enforcing new rules on oil & gas drillers. The rules require that the drillers use "green" technologies to reduce the loss of methane gas that comes up out of the ground when new wells are drilled. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling has been looking into the environmental effects of drilling. He found that some companies are now opening themselves up to new scrutiny to prove what they’re doing won't hurt their neighbors.
October 7, 2013 6:30 am
How Hurricanes That Hit The Texas Coast Can Float Giant Tanks
We're in the last two months of hurricane season. In years past, big storms have done billions of dollars of damage along the Texas Gulf Coast. Now, questions are being raised about what is not being done to protect one vulnerable type of structure: the huge tanks that hold toxic chemicals and petroleum. High winds and high water can cause them to float, sometimes with disastrous results.
September 25, 2013 6:30 am
The Father Of Environmental Justice Sees Danger In How Texas Regulates
Texas is leading the nation in creating jobs. One factor is the big growth in the oil and gas industry. But as more wells are drilled and more crude is processed, there are worries about pollution and its effect on communities. Just who benefits and who loses? Here's StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling with more on what's called "environmental justice."
September 17, 2013 6:30 am
Texans Use Less Power Than Expected, Baffling State Regulators
Something unexpected is happening in Texas when it comes to how much electricity we're all using. It's less than what experts had predicted. Exactly why this is happening is somewhat of a mystery. But as StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling found, the consequences could determine if Texans have to pay more for the electricity they are using.
September 12, 2013 6:30 am
Restoring Power: What Houston Learned From Ike
Five years ago this week, much of Houston was without electricity. Hurricane Ike had ripped-down power lines as the storm's winds exceeded a hundred miles an hour. Would another hurricane put 2 million utility customers in the dark for days as Ike did?
August 29, 2013 6:30 am
Texas Refinery In Port Arthur: The Nation's Biggest With Problems To Match
Repairs are underway at a refinery on the Texas Gulf Coast. The biggest refinery in the country is also experiencing big problems — so many problems some people are beginning to wonder if the plant is cursed. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling is in Port Arthur where there had been hope the refinery would bring better times for the community.
August 22, 2013 6:30 am
Researching Dirty Air's Effect On Health: Are Some Texans Immune?
Maybe nowhere else is the battle over clean air fought harder than in Texas. The state has tried to block federal air pollution laws saying they stifle economic growth. But just last week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed another law suit to force power plants in northeast Texas to reduce toxic air emissions. We thought it might be a good time to look at the root of why any this matters. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling has the basics on what air pollution can do to people.
August 15, 2013 6:30 am
As Tank Cars Roll Through, Texas Towns Prepare for Accidents
The Federal Railroad Administration is now investigating how safe it is to move crude oil in tank cars. You may have seen them as you waited at a railroad crossing: one after another, shiny, new black tankers. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling wants to know if communities are prepared to deal with an accident.
August 8, 2013 6:30 am
Keeping Old Oil Wells From Leaking
When it comes to drilling deep for oil and natural gas, things can go wrong. Sometimes wells — especially old ones — leak. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling has been looking into a Texas town where there seems to be an oil well on every block.
July 30, 2013 6:30 am
Does Fracking 'Steal' Oil & Gas From Neighbors?
Some see it as stealing. Others say it's just how business is done in Texas. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling has been investigating how Texas determines who owns the oil and gas that comes from deep underground. He begins with what happened in South Texas.
July 23, 2013 6:30 am
Finding Oil In Texas Is Easy, Just Look On The Ground
There's a lot of drilling going on in Texas for oil and gas. So much, that Texas is a big reason why the United States is now producing more oil than it imports. But it all begins with what in the oil business is the most fundamental of challenges: finding the right place to drill, a place to hit "black gold", not a "dry hole." StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling has more.
July 17, 2013 6:30 am
Testing the Water Before You Bore: Baseline Tests Give Clues About Contamination
Texas is behind some other oil & gas states when it comes to regulations that could help reveal if drilling is contaminating underground water supplies. Baseline testing might reduce confusion over what's in the water. StateImpact Texas reporter Dave Fehling has the story.
July 8, 2013 6:30 am
Texas Puts Luminant Mining Under Closer Financial Scrutiny
Texas may be known for oil, but it's also a coal state. And now, there's concern over what the state is doing to ensure that old "strip mines" are cleaned-up. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling found that one Texas company in particular is now getting special scrutiny.
June 26, 2013 6:30 am
Stopping A Hurricane's Storm Surge: Texas Considers What Will Work
Next month, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will consider proposals to reduce flooding when hurricanes hit a critical part of the Texas Gulf Coast. It's the area that includes miles of refineries and petrochemical plants — and millions of people. But who should pay? And should everyone be protected when hurricanes hit?
June 11, 2013 6:30 am
Vehicle Inspection Fraud Task Forces Running On Empty
In Texas cities with bad air pollution, owners pay to have their vehicles inspected to make sure the engines are running cleanly. Part of that state inspection fee is supposed to go towards enforcement. But StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling tells why there's concern that even though there's a lot of inspection fraud, the efforts to catch it are getting cut.
June 5, 2013 6:30 am
The Toxic Risk When Hurricanes Hit The Texas Chemical Coast
The next hurricane that hits the Texas coast will again put some of the nation's biggest refineries and chemical plants — and the communities near them — at risk. But it won’t be the first time. Looking back at some big storms and the havoc they caused is what StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling did to find out what can go wrong.
May 29, 2013 6:30 am
A Gusher Of Work For Texas Oil & Gas Lawyers
In Texas, the "help wanted" sign is out for people who know about oil and gas drilling. But companies aren't hiring just rough-necks and engineers. StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling has the story of billion-dollar deals and six-figure starting salaries.
May 22, 2013 6:30 am
Deadly Chemicals And The Risk When Companies Are Accused of Cutting Corners
We've been reporting this week on how much Texas communities know about potentially deadly chemicals used by nearby industries. Officials tell us that the majority of companies play by the rules so that residents and workers know the risks. But when some companies allegedly cut corners to reduce costs, the results can be tragic.
May 20, 2013 6:34 am
Knowing Your Neighbor When Deadly Chemicals Are Next Door
When chemical fertilizer stored at a farm supply depot in the town of West exploded last month, it raised all sorts of questions about safety. Homes and a school that were within a quarter mile of the facility were heavily damaged. But it doesn't take a catastrophic explosion to put a community at risk — especially when chemicals are in the form of a gas.
May 7, 2013 6:30 am
More Than Their Fair Share? Texas County Questions Frack Water Disposal Wells
It's a nice surprise: so much oil and natural gas is now being produced here in Texas and other states that our dependence on foreign sources is dropping. While what's coming out of the ground may be great for the nation, there's concern about how to put a by-product of the drilling back into the ground. StateImpact's Dave Fehling reports from South Texas.
May 6, 2013 6:30 am
As OTC Kicks Off, BP Gulf Disaster Still Sets Conference Agenda
One of the biggest energy industry gatherings kicks-off this morning in Houston: the Offshore Technology Conference — better known as OTC. It'll feature the latest equipment to drill under the ocean for oil and gas. Many sessions will focus on what has changed since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Industry-wide, the industry spotlight has been on land and the drilling technique called "fracking." Reporter Dave Fehling talked with the chairman of the OTC, Steve Balint.
April 25, 2013 6:30 am
Limiting Environmental Enforcement Raises Fears Of 'Race To The Bottom'
It's been called the "Texas miracle" — the way the state has created more jobs than any other. Texas has attracted new businesses — in part through financial and tax incentives, and by promising less regulation. But some economists warn that while that approach may be working for now, the Texas "business-friendly" attitude may cost the state in the environment.
April 19, 2013 6:30 am
Iowa Community Knows Risks Of Fertilizer But Welcomes Plant Expansion
There's a community in Iowa that now has a tragic link to the town of West, Texas. Both communities have had fertilizer plants that have exploded killing and injuring people.