oil and natural gas | KERA News

oil and natural gas

Louis Vest / Provided by The Texas Tribune

Eight years ago, two environmental nonprofits sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency was a decade overdue in updating limits on how much hazardous air pollution the country's oil refineries could emit; the groups hoped a lawsuit would force it to act.

The head of the Texas Oil and Gas Association said Tuesday his group agrees fossil fuels contribute to global warming and that the industry will find ways to reduce emissions.

U.S. Is Not 'Energy Independent,' Despite Trump's Claims

Jan 13, 2020
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Jan. 9, in Toledo, Ohio.
Associated Press

Iran has vowed revenge on the United States for the assassination of General Qasem Solemani. In the past, Iran has responded to attacks by targeting oil infrastructure and tankers around the Persian Gulf. So, just how vulnerable is Texas, and Houston specifically, to Iranian retaliation?

TPC Group Plant Explosion
Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle via Assocated Press

Environmental and watchdog groups have long criticized the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for taking it too easy on polluters — and the TCEQ has often countered that its job is to coax industrial facilities into compliance rather than slap them with big fines.

When the Trump administration announced plans to roll back Obama-era rules limiting methane emissions from oil and gas operations, even some in industry cried foul. Many saw the regulations as a modest attempt to curb Earth-heating emissions.

A natural gas flare burns in Pecos County in West Texas.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

A major pipeline operator is suing the Texas Railroad Commission — the state agency that regulates oil and gas drilling — alleging that it has blatantly disregarded longstanding state law that restricts the controversial and growing practice of burning off natural gas.

On a quiet street overlooking Scotland's largest refinery and chemical plant, Kevin Ross surveys the newest outgrowth of the American oil and gas boom.

Since 2016, natural gas from the U.S. has been feeding the Grangemouth petrochemical plant, a vast complex of cooling towers, flaring towers and pipelines. The gas is originally harvested in Western Pennsylvania, sent through a pipeline to Philadelphia, and put on ships across the Atlantic.

Associated Press

Two political supporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country's new president.

A pumpjack with oil on the ground in Pecos County in West Texas
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / For The Texas Tribune

West Texas has seen a dramatic increase in earthquakes, jumping from 19 in 2009 to 1,600 in 2017 alone, according to a new study published Monday by the University of Texas at Austin.

Associated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency took public testimony in Dallas on Thursday on plans to weaken federal methane emission standards.

Those Obama-era rules require oil and gas companies to monitor and fix methane leaks from their pipelines and storage facilities.

The city of Austin is signaling it intends to sue Kinder Morgan, the company behind the proposed Permian Highway Pipeline — a 430-mile natural gas line that has provoked major opposition in the Texas Hill Country. In filing its Notice of Intent to sue, Austin joins opposition already being mounted by San Marcos, Kyle, the Barton Springs Aquifer Conservation District and a property-owner group called the TREAD Coalition

Emergency managers from Bexar and surrounding counties gathered Thursday for a workshop to help them prepare for natural disasters; not for floods or tornadoes or hurricanes — but for earthquakes.


Charles Chaney Jr. has Utopia on his mind. The Texas City resident is a month away from retirement, and Utopia is the name of the scenic Hill Country town where his family has lived for generations. He had planned to build a house on land he owns there near his brother and sister.

Now, he’s not so sure.

Associated Press

T. Boone Pickens, a brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts, died Wednesday. He was 91.

A law went into effect in Texas this week that increases penalties for demonstrators who interfere with oil and gas pipelines and other pieces of "critical infrastructure."

Associated Press

The Trump administration moved Thursday to revoke regulations on methane leaks from oil facilities, a proposal environmental advocates said would renounce key federal authority to regulate the climate-damaging gas.

Harris County and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are suing Exxon Mobil for allegedly violating the Texas Clean Air Act and Texas Water Code, during a fire that broke out at the company’s oil refinery in Baytown on Wednesday.

From Texas Standard:

A recently-published health study indicates expectant mothers living near extensive oil and gas development run a higher risk of having children with birth defects.

Associated Press

The cleanup of millions of gallons of waste and polluted water is far from over four months after a large fire burned for days at a Houston-area petrochemical storage site.

A Travis County judge has ruled construction on a natural gas pipeline through the Texas Hill Country can proceed. The state district court decision Tuesday marks a major setback for landowners and local governments that sued to stop energy company Kinder Morgan from using eminent domain to build the pipeline.

A public meeting Tuesday on a planned natural gas pipeline in Central Texas often felt more like a protest, as Hays County residents shared concerns about the project and speakers vowed to fight it.

A fight over a pipeline is never only about the pipeline. It’s about the environment, property rights, public safety and a community’s sense of itself. Just such a fight is now brewing in the Texas Hill Country, where company Kinder Morgan plans to lay a part of its 430-mile natural gas Permian Highway Pipeline.

The spring-fed pool, photographed in 2006, at Balmorhea State Park has been closed since last May.
Associated Press

An oil and gas company operating in West Texas has donated $1 million to reach the fundraising goal for repairs to what's touted as the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool.

If the oil and gas boom continues as projected, the planet could experience "catastrophic climate change" by 2050, according to an analysis released yesterday.

The report from Oil Change International, a coalition of environmental groups, says continued growth in fossil fuel extraction – much of which occurs in Texas – could derail any hope of avoiding dire effects of climate change.

From Texas Standard.

The International Energy Agency announced earlier this year that U.S. oil production will rise above Russia’s, making the nation the world’s top oil producer by 2023. But last week, the CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources set a much shorter timeline – the U.S. is now poised to become the world’s top oil producer as early as this fall.

The U.S. is on track to become the world's biggest oil producer, pumping out more crude than at its peak nearly a half century ago. For decades, few expected such a comeback, and it's all the more remarkable because the price of a barrel of oil is nowhere near what it was during the last, recent boom.

"This is an incredible statement, but we're probably making more money at fifty dollars a barrel than a hundred," says Kirk Edwards, president of Latigo Petroleum in Midland, the de facto oil capitol of West Texas.

From Texas Standard.

After more than half a century, the U.S. appears to have become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas. The last time we would have been able to say that was when Eisenhower was president. The development is a major shift from predictions just a decade ago, when the U.S. was expected to have to rely on liquefied natural gas imports from Russia, Northern Africa and the Middle East forever, it seemed. What’s changed? Here to put things into perspective is energy insider Matt Smith, director of commodity research at Clipper Data.

The Trump administration is proposing dramatic changes to policies on offshore leasing for oil and gas, opening the door to radically expand drilling in waters that were protected by the Obama administration.

It's the "largest number of lease sales ever proposed, " Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters. The proposed plan to sell offshore drilling leases in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic over a five-year period was detailed Thursday.

Untapped: The New West Texas

Nov 16, 2017

This piece is Part 1 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

The Permian Basin in West Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year, drilling operations have moved south and west into a region long written off as undevelopable.

The U.S. has pulled out of a pledge to conform to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international group that was formed to add transparency and accountability to how governments manage natural resources. The U.S. says it can't comply with all of the EITI's requirements.

A State Department spokesperson says the U.S. will remain as one of 17 "supporting countries" of the initiative. A U.S. representative also serves on the EITI's international board.

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