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EPA May Federalize Texas Air Program & Nightly Roundup


By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Federal regulators said Wednesday they will take over the entire job of regulating air quality in Texas if the state continues to violate the U.S. Clean Air Act.

The announcement by the regional chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comes a day after he said the federal government would issue the operating permit for one refinery in Corpus Christi and planned to take over 39 other permits.

Now, Al Armendariz told The Associated Press, the agency was already hiring staff and studying how to federalize what has always been a state's job.

The EPA's plan is sure to set off fireworks in Texas, where state regulators have consistently said they disagree with the EPA's conclusion that Texas allows the petrochemical industry to spew out an unmeasured amount of toxins as it refines one-third of the nation's gasoline and produces thousands of other chemical products and plastics.

Edwards seeks funds for new Fort Hood center

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards says he expects broad, bipartisan support for a $16.5 million earmark to fund a new Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood.

The money is part of $529 million for military construction projects in the supplemental appropriations bill the House Appropriations Committee is to consider Thursday. The project would replacing the site of last year's shooting rampage.

The Waco Democrat said Wednesday he secured the earmark because the last place soldiers visit before deployment and the first place they see when coming home "should not be the site of a senseless, terrible tragedy."

Maj. Nidal Hassan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with killing 13 and wounding dozens of others at the facility Nov. 5.

Somali terror member may be heading to Texas

U.S. Homeland Security officials have asked Houston authorities to watch for a member of a Somalia-based terror group who may be coming to Texas through Mexico.

The federal agency last week issued an alert for a suspected member of the Al Shabaab group, which has declared allegiance to al-Qaida.

Harris County Sheriff's spokeswoman Christina Garza said Wednesday she could not share details. U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling says he "cannot discuss specific intelligence regarding individual groups."

The alert was issued after federal prosecutors in San Antonio added new charges against a 24-year-old Somali man, Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, who had been picked up in Brownsville in 2008. He pleaded not guilty May 14 to raping and threatening to kill one of hundreds of immigrants he's accused of smuggling into the U.S. Prosecutors say he has ties to terrorist groups.

The pigtails are gone: Willie Nelson cuts his hair

Country music fans have come to expect a little eccentricity from legendary crooner Willie Nelson, but he pulled off a real shocker this time.

He cut his hair.

"Oh Noooooo!," wrote one fan who saw a picture of Willie's new-do on the website of Nashville TV and radio personality Jimmy Carter. Another fan expressed the tongue-in-cheek hope that Willie had taken his freshly shorn hair and "donated it to the oil spill."

Nelson's waist-deep, reddish pigtails have long been one of the singer-songwriter's signature features. But spokeswoman Elaine Schock said Nelson, who's been hanging loose in Hawaii, got his hair cut in the last couple of weeks. She said the Texas-born performer didn't make a big fuss about the makeover, but she theorized Willie might have grown tired of dealing with the long locks.

"There's a lot of maintenance," she said.