Photo by Steve Jurvetson

Report: Sand miners disturbing threatened West Texas lizard’s habitat

An advocacy group’s analysis predicts nearly 10 percent of the dunes sagebrush lizard’s habitat could be disturbed or destroyed by sand mining operations, via Texas Tribune.

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Refinery workers in Veracruz finish their shift. Mexican gov't statistics indicate mounting theft from pipelines that ferry refined gasoline from here to Mexico City. (photo: Lorne Matalon) ​

In Mexico, Oil and Gas Theft from Pipelines is on the Rise

The earthquakes in Mexico have not damaged the nation’s pipeline system, a system that U.S. companies are looking to invest in. For the past three years, the Mexican oil & gas market has been open to foreign companies — for the first time since 1938. U.S. energy companies looking to enter Mexican energy market are hedging their bets while the country grapples with what the gov’t says is mounting theft of oil and gasoline from its pipelines.

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Photo credit: NOAA

La Niña could reverse Texas’ drought trend

By Caroline Halter

Less than one percent of Texas is currently experiencing drought conditions. That’s down from 10 percent at the beginning of August. But, La Niña could change that.

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The Brewster County Courthouse in Alpine

Brewster County loses approximately $470,000 in funding for water projects

By Caroline Halter

Brewster County will no longer receive nearly half a million dollars in grant funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture, also known as TDA. 

Brewster County Judge Eleazar Cano said the money was slated to go towards extending and improving water infrastructure in the southern part of the county.

“We do rely on these kind of funding opportunities to improve our constituents’ lives and even their ability to survive out here,” said Cano. 

Cano explained the problems stem from the county’s previous county treasurer, who failed to properly account for department funds and deliver documents requested for the 2014 and 15 audits in a timely manner.

Judge Cano said he’s doing everything he can to get back in the TDA’s good graces and looking into alternative funding sources.

“We’ve even contacted Hurd’s office, our congressman, to try to get their assistance and you know, seeing if they could help us out,” he said. 

As of now, Brewster County will have to wait 5 years before becoming eligible to apply for grants from TDA again, but the agency did agree to continue funding another project already in progress.

Mario, Alice and Rene Rivera (Courtesy of Mario Rivera, 1970s)

Voices of Blackwell: Mario Rivera

The “Voices of Blackwell” series is a partnership with the Blackwell School Alliance, whose mission is to preserve the history of Hispanic education in Marfa. The segregated institution was open from the late nineteenth century and closed in 1965 with the integration of schools in town. The first story we hear is from Mario Rivera who attended Blackwell in the fifties and went on to become Presidio County’s Treasurer for 32 years.

Lone Star Oil (Foreign Bodies) by Durant Weston, CC-by-2.0

Report: Is Permian Tight Oil Growth Sustainable?

A new study suggests oil production in the Permian Basin could peak as early as 2021 due to geological constraints. This was the downside scenario gamed out by researchers with industry intelligence company Wood Mackenzie.

“We’re going to drill really really hard for the next 3 or 4 years, we’re going to exhaust a lot of parent locations, we’re going to keep drilling but we’re going to be drilling into pressure-depleted areas,” researcher Robert Clarke said in a Wood Mackenzie podcast.

Clarke said in this downside scenario, there will still be a lot of drilling, just of smaller “child” wells.

“Taking that downside scenario case forward, even in 2030 the Permian is still producing just shy of 30 million barrels a day. So this isn’t a story of it peaks and it’s finished,” said Clarke.

Another scenario considered in the report looks at how advances in technology could actually lead to widespread, more efficient fracking. This upside scenario saw production peak at 5.6 million barrels a day in 2025.

The Children's Health Insurance Program provides health care coverage to millions of children in families too poor to buy insurance and not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

400,000 Texas Kids Could Lose Health Insurance. Congress Has Two Weeks To Prevent It

A federal program that provides health insurance for about 390,000 Texas children must be reauthorized by Congress by the end of the month.

Most of the children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, are in working-class families. These are families who are too poor to buy insurance on their own, don’t have an employer that offers insurance and are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

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Attorney Nina Morrision gets a hug from John Nolley after the Bedford man was released from custody after nearly 19 years behind bars on May 17, 2016 in Fort Worth due to efforts by The Innocence Project. Nolley had been found guilty of murder in 1998. Photo by PAUL MOSELEY / FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

A Lying Jailhouse Snitch Sent A Man To Prison; Texas Passed A Law To Prevent That

John Nolley always insisted he didn’t kill his friend. He spent nearly 19 years locked up for the gruesome murder. Then, a judge released him from prison, citing evidence that undermined the jailhouse informant who testified against him – evidence never given to his lawyers during the trial. | via KERA News.

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The Children of the Confederacy Creed, which was installed inside the Capitol in the late 1950s, states that the Civil War was not fought over slavery. Photo by JORGE SANHUEZA-LYON / KUT

Speaker Joe Straus Calls For Removal Of Confederate Plaque From Capitol

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is calling for a plaque honoring the Confederacy in the state Capitol to come down, via KUT News.

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Photo by Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Texas Rep. Kel Seliger Seeks Re-election

Texas Senator Kel Seliger announced today he’s seeking re-election.  

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Texas Democrats Remain Silent About Who Will Lead Their 2018 Ticket

The start of the 2018 election cycle is just around the corner and Democrats remain silent on who will be at the top of their ticket.  Political experts believe the party may now be frantic to find a candidate for the job, via Texas Public Radio.

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Celebrating Mexican Independence on the Border

On the evening of September 15th, 1810 Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo started the Mexican War of Independence with a ring of church bells and a call to arms – the “Grito de Dolores”. More than two centuries later, the cries continue. At an event hosted by the Mexican Consulate, musicians, students and community members from Texas and Mexico gathered for Independence Day festivities in the border town of Presidio, Texas.

Folkloric dancers pose for photos at Mexican Independence Day celebrations in Presidio, Texas. Photo by Elizabeth Trovall.





The Valero refinery, seen from across the ship channel in Houston on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Photo by Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

EPA won’t release benzene levels collected post-Harvey; private tests show elevated levels

Environmental groups hired a private firm after the flooding and found higher than normal levels of dangerous chemicals in the air around a refinery, via Texas Tribune.

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Photo by Sasha von Oldershausen

Voices of the Border: Jesus Torres

Jesus Torres graduated from one of the last classes of Blackwell, a segregated school for children of Mexican descent in Marfa. The school closed its doors in 1965. His experience at Blackwell would inspire him to become a teacher himself. This is his story.


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People line up outside of the University Co-op in Austin to vote last November. State law requires high schools to hand out voter registration applications to eligible students twice a school year. Photo by GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

It’s Texas Law To Help High School Students Register To Vote. Why Isn’t It Happening?

Texas hasn’t been enforcing compliance with a 30-year-old law requiring public and private high schools to hand out voter registration applications to eligible students at least twice a school year, civil rights groups say.

It’s basically up to high schools to make the law work. But only 6 percent of schools in Texas are asking the state for registration forms, says Beth Stevens, voting rights director with the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP). Advocates say state officials need to do more.

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Texas Company Acquires Acreage in the Permian Basin

A Woodlands, Texas-based oil and gas company has made its first reported acquisition and the young company is taking root in the Permian Basin.

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The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C., on June 7, 2017. Photo: Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Supreme Court puts redrawing of Texas political maps on hold

In separate orders issued Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked two lower court rulings that invalidated parts of the state’s congressional and House maps where lawmakers were found to have discriminated against voters of color, putting on hold efforts to redraw those maps, via Texas Tribune.

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Aurcana Silver Exploration Drilling Continues in Shafter Ghost Town

The Vancouver-based Aurcana Corp. is drilling exploration holes at the company’s mineral deposits in Shafter, Texas. Four of six total exploration core holes have been completed. The drilling program tested silver and gold deposits.

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Father Mike officiates a wedding in Presidio, Texas.

Voices of the Border: Father Mike

Father Mike is a pastor at the Catholic church in Presidio, Texas. He moved to the United States in the late 1980s from his hometown in the Phillppines. He’s since made West Texas his home. Living in the small border town has lent perspective to his own immigrant experience. This is his story.

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Aerial views show severe damage and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Port Aransas, Texas, Aug. 28, 2017. Photos by Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

Hurricane Harvey highlights the role of immigrant labor in Texas economy

By Caroline Halter

The Trump administration’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA was expected. But it comes as Hurricane Harvey recasts a spotlight on the role of immigrant labor in Texas.

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Demonstrators call on President Trump not to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, outside the Department of Public Safety on Aug. 29. GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

Trump Will Allow DACA To Expire – Unless Congress Authorizes The Policy

The Trump administration decided today to phase out the Obama-era program that protects from deportation people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, via KUT News.

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In El Paso, these Students Actively Wait for Trump’s DACA Decision

President Trump has decided to allow the Obama-era policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, to expire. The program has protected three-quarters of a million young immigrants, living here without papers. Some are students. There are many in Texas who will feel the sting of a new federal policy, especially in the city of El Paso.

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Geri-Ann Hernandez talks on the phone with the car insurance company for her Toyota Camry. She says the company told her it’s probably totaled. JORGE SANHUEZA-LYON / KUT NEWS

Houston Homeowners Face Another Daunting Task: Navigating The FEMA Aid Process

As the waters begin to recede in Southeast Texas, those affected by hurricane Harvey have more challenges ahead. One of those daunting tasks includes applying for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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AT&T Outage in the Big Bend Region

AT&T has reported a cut fiber optic line in the Fort Stockton area, which has caused a disruption in both land and cellular service. According to AT&T Government Relations, a crew is working on it and they hope to have service restored early this evening.

UPDATE: Chemical Plant’s Smokes Not Toxic, Authorities Confirm; Pence To Meet With Harvey Victims in Corpus

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez confirmed that smokes from explosions at the Crosby plan are not a danger for community, via Houston Public Media.

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Eddie Wilson and the Armadillo World Headquarters

On this episode of Rambling Boy, Lonn Taylor reveals stories from Eddie Wilson and his famous Austin venue Armadillo World Headquarters, “an institution that dominated the Texas musical scene for a decade”. Eddie Wilson published Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir earlier this year.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Mondays after the 10 am newscast and again after the 7 pm newscast.
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Fri. Sep 22 Interview: Ramona Rose

On this edition of West Texas Talk, a conversation and in-studio performance from musician, artist, and poet Ramona Rose.

Originally from upstate New York, Ramona came Texas via Joshua Tree, California, with intent to help with Hurricane Harvey relief – she ended up in Marfa after meeting some people in El Paso who told her it was a good place to start.

She stopped by Marfa Public Radio’s Studio A to perform a few songs and talk about life experiences.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Conserving a “Keystone Species”: Lynda Watson is “the Prairie Dog Lady” of West Texas

They form a sophisticated society, with intricate communication. Prairie dogs are remarkable for their intelligence and sociability. And they’re a “keystone species” – a foundation of biodiversity – on the West Texas plains. They nearly disappeared. Our region was once … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm.
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Thu. Sep 21 Interview: Johnny Stallings on Walt Whitman as “the poet of American democracy”

On this episode of West Texas Talk, writer, actor and director Johnny Stallings talks about Walt Whitman’s enduring legacy in American society. Stallings will be performing one of Whitman’s most renowned works, “Song of Myself,” on Friday, September 22 at the Presidio County Courthouse at 7pm.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Wed. Sep 20 Interview: Harley Tallchief Continues Native American Traditions of Beaded Sculpture and Dance

Harley Tallchief splits his time between running an oil rig in Odessa, creating ornate beaded sculptures, and practicing traditional Native American dance. Originally from the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York, Tallchief found himself in Odessa after running out of money on his way to California for a job opportunity. Since then, he’s continued to work in the oil industry while continuing his native traditions. He says that beadwork is a reprieve from the demanding job of running an oil rig, “It calms me down… It’s like a therapy for me — peace and quiet…”

Tallchief’s first exhibit, “Beaded Sculptures,” will be on view through September 28th at the Nancy Fyfe Cardozier Gallery at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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