The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), submitted a new water management plan to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that will, according to LCRA General Manager Becky Motal “balance the interests throughout the basin and protect customers during severe droughts, like the one we are still experiencing.” The major proposals would change the way LCRA provides water to agricultural interests (primarily water intensive rice farming) in Colorado, Matagorda, and Wharton counties. Currently, there is a single “trigger point” for releasing water to farmers. If the water in the Highland Lakes is high enough on January 1st of each year, farmers are allowed to draw an unlimited amount of water throughout the year. The new plan would add a second trigger point, in June, and would also require LCRA to monitor lake levels, and shut off supply, if they get too low. Water management plans, such as this, will be critical to Texas’s future, as our population and our thirst continues to rise.
The Port of Corpus Christi, Ambre Energy, and Cline Mining Corp. are planning to construct a massive new coal export terminal with the capacity to move 20 million tons of coal per year by 2017. While coal consumption has declined in the United States in recent years as evidence of coal-fired power’s notorious history of pollution and adverse health effects have come to light, the emerging economies of China and India, and concerns about the safety of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster have boosted coal consumption overseas. The Sierra Club issued a damning report on the port’s plans. In it, they highlight not just the environmental dangers that coal presents, but also the poor economics of coal. The report shows how the ports of Los Angeles and Portland invested heavily in coal export infrastructure only to see those facilities fail due to the volatility of the market. As Kevin Parker, global head of asset management at Deutsche Bank, said, “coal is a dead man walking. Banks won’t finance them. Insurance companies won’t insure them, and the economics to make it clean don’t work.”
Austin became the first city in Texas to ban single use plastic bags after the city council unanimously approved the bag-ban ordinance on March 2, though there are a few exceptions for dry cleaners, restaurant carry out food, and bags that hold perishables. Clean Water Action applauded the ordinance saying, “plastic bags clog our streams and storm drains, litter our streets, threaten wildlife and cost our city over $800,000 each year to manage.” Several other Texas cities, including McAllen, Corpus Christi, and Odessa, are considering similar bans.
Here is another, “insightful” statement from Santorum on carbon dioxide emissions: