Your Weekly Environmental Roundup For Texas and Beyond!

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Land Commissioner Wants To Steal Money From Children To Fund His Nifty New Desal Plant

  • Though Texas schools lost over $4 billion from their budgets over the last legislative session, Texas Land Commissioner, Jerry Patterson, has come up with a devious plan to take even more money from them.  His plan is to use funds from the Permanent School Fund to build a desalinization plant on General Land Office land somewhere between Austin and San Antonio.  “Desal” (as those in the know like to call it) is the talk of Texas these days, with supporters imagining it to be a sort of silver bullet to end all our water woes.  While Texas has a huge supply of brackish water stored deep in aquifers, the process of turning it into drinkable, lawn water-able water is hugely expensive.  If similar Texas plants are any guide, this plant would cost around $100 million, and would produce water at 3-6 times the price of water gained thorugh conservation efforts.

Enron Apparently Still Exists, And Its Trying To Poison North Texans

  • Everyone’s favorite disgraced energy giant, Enron Oil and Gas (EOG) is up to its neck in complaints from residents living near a proposed sand mine in Cooke County, along the Oklahoma border.  Residents expressed concerns about respiratory diseases and cancer to a TCEQ hearing on the subject in Gainesville.  “The real problems begin when they start operating. We’re gonna have air pollution, that’s our major concern, we’re gonna have water problems, that’s another major concern, we’re gonna have truck traffic, emissions from those trucks,” said a concerned citizen, Ozlem Altiok.  A TCEQ contested case hearing will begin on Thursday to determine who will be affected by the mine, and whether construction can continue.

Remember To Visit The Beach While It’s Still There

  • Climate Central released this nifty map which allows you to see exactly where flooding will occur as sea levels begin to rise due to global climate change.  The map coincides with a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report which predicts that by 2070 sea level changes will effect 120 million people and cost around $35 trillion in damages.  Galveston, for instance, sees little flooding from a moderate 2 foot flood surge, but is nearly wiped off the map in the event of a 6 foot surge.

Tar Sands Spill The Result Of Sloppy Management And Regulation

  • Federal investigators reported on Tuesday that the 2010 spill of 843,000 gallons of toxic tar sands diluted bitumen oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan was the result preventable safety measures.  The report faults both Enbridge, the Canadian operator of the pipeline, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal agency tasked with regulating pipeline operators.  Enbridge (which is currently building a tar sands pipeline to the Texas coast from Oklahoma) was blamed for not incorporating readily available knowledge in its safety evaluations, and the PHMSA was blamed for “weak and ambiguous regulations.”

Though Texas has more than enough pollution to go around, we’ve got nothing on Guandong province, China.

  • China Daily Newspaper reported that about 9.5 billion tons of raw sewage (or about 3/4s of the province of 104 million people’s annual waste) is discharged, untreated into the Pearl River which supplies Hong Kong.  That news of this sort is even reported is a sign that China’s government is beginning to get serious about the rampant air and water pollution that has followed China’s remarkable economic growth since 1976.

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  1. GLO water project
    Adam – glad to see your interest in Central Texas water issues.  The more folks understand the pending supply crisis the better. I'd like to clarify a point you seem to be confused on, though.  The School Land Board will only invest in desalination if it makes money for the Permanent School Fund.  

    The General Land Office has put more than $11 billion into the Permanent School Fund, mostly from oil and gas on PSF land. But the fund has grown to its current size of about $26 billion through wise investment.  The earnings from these investments are what is spent on k-12 education (from the PSF.)  No investment, no earnings, no money from the PSF for the school kids. Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson thinks desalination of brackish ground water in Central Texas is probably a good investment.  That's why the GLO spent $36,000 on a feasibility study, to determine if the quantity and quality of water is there to make money selling it.

    If you'd like to know more about Commissioner Patterson's plans, just let me know. There's more information on this here:

    Jim Suydam  

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