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

Texas Can Cut Off Planned Parenthood Funds

Planned Parenthood of North Texas (PPNT) publicly debuted on April 6, 2000. The corporate headquarters are in Dallas.
Planned Parenthood of North Texas (PPNT) publicly debuted on April 6, 2000. The corporate headquarters are in Dallas.

A federal appeals court says Texas can cut off state funding for Planned Parenthood pending a trial over a new law that takes away the money.

The court on Tuesday lifted a federal judge's temporary injunction calling for the funding to continue pending an October trial.

Texas officials sought to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics that provide family planning and health services to poor women after the state's Legislature passed a law banning funds to organizations linked to abortion providers. No state money goes to pay for abortions.

Planned Parenthood sued, saying the law violates its free speech rights. The Texas attorney general argued lawmakers may decide which organizations receive state funds.

The judge ruled last month there's sufficient evidence the state's law is unconstitutional.


Rare white buffalo in Texas died from infection

Authorities say a rare white buffalo found dead in Texas died from a bacterial infection and wasn't killed and mutilated as claimed by its owner.

Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said Tuesday that a veterinarian made the determination and that photographs indicate the calf wasn't skinned. The investigation is closed unless new evidence surfaces.

The calf, named Lightning Medicine Cloud, died in May on the Lakota Ranch near Greenville, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas.

Ranch owner Arby Little Soldier reported finding the calf skinned and believed it had been killed. He didn't return a message seeking comment Tuesday.

As a non-albino white buffalo, the calf was revered by Native Americans. According to Lakota Sioux lore, the goddess of peace once appeared in the form of a white buffalo calf.


Dallas County Reports New West Nile Death

Dallas County is reporting an 11th death from West Nile virus. Health officials say the patient had the more serious neuroinvasive strain of the mosquito-transmitted illness.

The latest victim lived in the 75225 zip code; the neighborhood bounded by Lovers, Hillcrest, Walnut Hill and the Tollway.

Dallas County reports a total of 242 cases of West Nile.

Tarrant County, yesterday, reported two additional West Nile deaths, for a total of four.

Meanwhile, there will be no aerial spraying tonight.

Later this afternoon Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and County Judge Clay Jenkins will talk about how to proceed with aerial spraying. It’s expected that half a dozen additional cities south of I-30 will opt in and request spraying.

This follows last nights 2nd round of aerial spraying of insecticide.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas To Mobilize Citizens To Combat West Nile

The city of Dallas wants to mobilize an army of citizens to battle West Nile virus.

Police, firefighters and code compliance officers are asking residents to make it a community project to drain standing water from around homes and schools in their neighborhoods.

Deputy Police Chief Tom Lawrence says aerial spraying is good, but it’s going to take a lot of ground work to mosquito-proof homes and schools.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Texas AG hails court 'victory' against EPA

Attorney General Greg Abbott is claiming victory after a federal appeals court overturned a regulation clamping down on power plant pollution that spoils air in neighboring states.

Texas joined power plants and some other states in challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's cross-state air pollution rule.

Abbott said in a statement Tuesday that the court rebuked the EPA for "violating federal law and intruding on Texas sovereignty."

He said the rule had threatened the reliability of electric service and jobs.

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia panel ruled 2-1 that the EPA imposed too-strict requirements on upwind states without regard to law.

The agency had sought to reduce downwind pollution from power plants in over two-dozen states. The rule had been scheduled to take effect in January.


2 die in multi-vehicle wreck in Dallas

Investigators say a fiery seven-vehicle wreck on southbound Interstate 35 in Dallas has left two people dead.

The Dallas County Sheriff's Office says three other people were hurt in the accident Tuesday morning.

Investigators believe the crashes happened after one car hit a barrier and then collided with another car, sending the second vehicle into an 18-wheeler. Two people in the first vehicle were killed. Several other vehicles then piled into the accident scene.

Authorities are trying to determine what caused the accidents and whether racing was involved. Names of the victims were not immediately released.

Traffic was diverted during cleanup of the accident scene.


5 children killed in SUV crash in East Texas

Investigators say two boys and three girls died when a crowded SUV they were traveling in crashed in East Texas.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Jean Dark says three other children and two adults were hurt in the one-vehicle rollover Monday near Van, about 70 miles east of Dallas. One adult and one child were not injured in the crash.

Dark says the GMC Envoy was carrying too many passengers. She says the SUV did not have child safety seats and that nine of the children were ejected from the vehicle.

DPS identified the children who died as: 13-year-old Rosvaelia Jaimes; 7-year-old Omar Jaimes; 6-year-old Saideth Acuna; 3-year-old Ulisa Acuna; and 2-year-old Judith Jaimes. DPS says they all came from Marshall.


Killer of 3 Texas teens set to die Wednesday

For the third time in three years, execution appears imminent for a former auto mechanic and laborer condemned for fatally shooting three teenagers nearly 15 years ago in a house in Amarillo.

John Balentine, who had an extensive criminal history in his native Arkansas, avoided lethal injection in September 2009 when a federal appeals court gave him a reprieve a day before his scheduled trip to the Texas death chamber. Then in June 2011, he was within an hour of execution when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped it.

Now, the 43-year-old Balentine is set to die Wednesday evening in Huntsville. His attorney is in the courts again trying to block the punishment, arguing in appeals that his earlier legal help was deficient. State attorneys are opposing the appeals.