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KERA's news coverage of environmental issues in North Texas, the state and beyond.

Texas Planned Parenthood Groups Vote For Merger

From left to right, Cecile Richards, PPFA president, Ken Lambrecht, proposed CEO of Planned Parenthood Of Greater Texas, and Glenda Parks, former CEO of PPTCR
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From left to right, Cecile Richards, PPFA president, Ken Lambrecht, proposed CEO of Planned Parenthood Of Greater Texas, and Glenda Parks, former CEO of PPTCR

Planned Parenthood groups in Austin, Waco and Dallas-Fort Worth are planning to merge into one organization.

The boards of each group voted unanimously Wednesday to merge into Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. The new organization will have 26 clinics in the Interstate 35 corridor.

The new group's CEO Ken Lambrecht said the move will allow the organization to provide more health care services at lower costs. The Planned Parenthood clinics involved say they provide contraception, testing and health check-ups to 120,000 Texans.

The decision follows recent attempts by Republican lawmakers to cut funding to the groups by excluding them from the Women's Health Program. They don't want to include clinics that are affiliated with others that provide abortions. Planned Parenthood has sued Texas saying the rule violates its constitutional rights.


EPA to slash air pollution from natural gas wells

The Obama administration, for the first time, is issuing standards to control air pollution from gas wells that are drilled using the method known as fracking.

Top EPA officials say the new regulations will make sure pollution is controlled, without slowing natural gas production.

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama strongly backed natural gas drilling as a clean energy source. But he's been criticized by the industry and by Republicans for policies that they say discourage energy development.

The standards issued today make some concessions to the industry. Drillers will have more than two years to use technology to reduce emissions. And wells that are drilled in low-pressure areas will be exempt.

The reaction from environmental groups is mixed. Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians says the rules offer ways to "keep the dirty process of drilling in check" -- though he says it includes a concession that will promote "wasteful drilling."


Texas' proposed new math standards draw criticism

Texas' new set of proposed K-12 math curriculum standards are drawing fire from an influential business organization and others who say they aren't rigorous enough.

The State Board of Education gave preliminary approval to the 10-year requirements in January and they are up for final passage by the 15-member board Friday.

Textbook publishers are waiting for that approval so they can begin producing classroom materials.

But Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond says the new curriculum is so broad that it's incoherent in some areas and won't adequately prepare students in algebra.

Hammond and other critics will address the board of education Wednesday.

Sensitive to critics' concerns, board members have modified the proposed curriculum and could make more changes - though that may delay a vote on final approval.


Nurse accused in baby abduction had miscarried

Authorities say a woman accused of killing a young mother and abducting a 3-day-old boy had suffered a recent miscarriage.

Officials in Montgomery County say Verna McClain had told her fiancé she had given birth to his child. After she had a miscarriage, McClain allegedly killed Kala Golden and abducted tiny Keegan Golden from outside a pediatrician's office in suburban Houston. Keegan was found unharmed hours later with McClain's sister.

The sheriff's office said Wednesday that McClain tried to represent Keegan as her own child. Her sister allegedly told authorities that McClain had plans to "do the adoption" after taking Keegan.

McClain now faces a capital murder charge and is being held without bail. Her fiancé, who was not identified, is being interviewed by authorities.


2 dead in Dallas traffic accident, 7 injured

Dallas police say two girls have been killed and seven other people hurt in a traffic accident after a car apparently ran out of gas.

Investigators say a car carrying seven people was stopped Tuesday night along a road, waiting for a relative to bring some gasoline. Police say a larger car, carrying two people, struck the stopped vehicle.

The medical examiner's office Wednesday identified the girls who died as 1-year-old Nebriyah Bates and 4-year-old Tey-Onna Burnley. The coroner's office had no information on whether the children were related.

Police say five people from the smaller car were transported to hospitals. Details were not immediately available on their conditions.

Police say the two people in the larger car were treated at the scene.


Dallas pastor backs Romney in spite of Mormonism

The Southern Baptist pastor who last October called Mormonism a cult and said Mitt Romney is not a Christian is now endorsing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, tells The Associated Press that he still doesn't believe Mormons are Christians.

But Jeffress says voters will have to choose between a Christian like President Barack Obama and a Mormon like Romney. He says the difference is that Obama embraces non-biblical principles while Romney embraces biblical principles like the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.

Given that choice, Jeffress says he believes Christians should support Romney in November "in spite of his Mormon faith."

Jeffress says that there are no perfect candidates - and no perfect pastors either.