The State of Texas: EPA Report Says Fracking Might Be Bad For Drinking Water
Plus: Governor Greg Abbott cools on the prospect of a bathroom bill, the Dallas Cowboys’ QB controversy is rearing its head again, and Baylor donors try to put a price tag on the school’s sexual assault scandal.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I am happy to report that after great deliberation and with the counsel of my family and friends, I have indeed decided to run for the office of mayor in the 2019 race.”
—Former World Wrestling Entertainment star Booker T. Huffman in a statement posted on Twitter. Huffman, better known by his stage name “Booker T,” will apparently be running for mayor in his hometown of Houston.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally released the complete version of its long-awaited study on hydraulic fracturing on Tuesday, saying (sort of?) that the oil and gas extraction technique that is known informally as fracking does, in fact, have the potential to contaminate drinking water sources. The agency was able to identify some specific instances in which fracking-related activity resulted in polluted drinking water, and the report says drinking water can possibly become polluted at any stage of the fracking process. As the New York Times notes, this is pretty much the polar opposite of what the EPA said in a draft of the same report that was released last year. In the older version, the EPA said there was no evidence that fracking contaminates water supplies. This final version, however, shows no sign of that sentiment, because the EPA came to the conclusion that such a determination could not be “quantitatively supported,” the agency’s science advisor explained in a statement. Oil and gas folks are pretty upset about this flip-flop, but it’s not that big of a deal. The agency is being very clear that it still can’t quite make a sweeping conclusion regarding the effects of fracking thanks to “data gaps and holes,” and the EPA did not go so far as to make any policy recommendations based on the report. “Because of these data gaps and uncertainties, it was not possible to fully characterize the severity of impacts, nor was it possible to calculate or estimate the national frequency of impacts on drinking water resources from activities in the hydraulic fracturing water cycle,” the agency wrote on its website, according to the Texas Tribune.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Governor Greg Abbott doesn’t seem so hot on bathroom bills anymore. According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott is in favor of taking a more “wait-and-see” approach on any bill that would prevent transgender people from using the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. “I have not seen any proposed legislation yet,” Abbott told reporters on Tuesday. “I think we are in a situation where there are more unknowns than there are knowns.” Abbott’s a little out of step with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who has been pushing hard for a bathroom bill for quite some time. Abbott’s hesitancy may have something to do with the fact that Texas’s business world has largely come out against the potential passage of such a bill, citing concerns that national backlash to any anti-LGBT legislation could cost the state billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs. “This is an issue that should be determined with a full evaluation, all the information,” Abbott said. “We are in the information-gathering stage right now.”
It seems like just yesterday that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was everyone’s favorite signal-caller. Now, it seems he’s only everyone’s favorite Dak. The rookie QB hasn’t been up to snuff in the past few games (he’s been pretty decent, but just not as good as he was at the beginning of the season), and on Tuesday, team owner Jerry Jones made some statements that call into question the team’s commitment to keeping Prescott in the pocket. When asked about a potential scenario that would result in the return of Tony Romo, Jones told 105.3 The Fan, “I don’t have a definition for it, but you’ll know it when you see it. It’s kind of like a definition I heard one time of another issue trying to define a negative topic, and they said, ‘I don’t know how to say it, but it’s just something that when you see it, you know it’s there.’ We’ll see it.” That probably makes sense only to Jerry. For what it’s worth, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said on Monday that Prescott is “going to play quarterback as we go forward,” which seems to be a pretty straight-forward answer to the quarterback question.
A group of big-time Baylor donors put together a report in an attempt to estimate the financial cost of the university’s sexual assault scandal, and the price tag is astronomical. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, the report says Baylor’s sexual assault scandal could potentially run up a bill of $223 million. The analysis looked at audits, IRS Form 990s, Equity in Athletics Data Analysis, media reports, examined the Penn State child sexual abuse investigation, and compared settlements with sexual assault victims at other schools to reach a projected $223 million. Per the report, Baylor has dropped or will eventually spend “almost $33 million in legal, consulting and public relations costs, $30 million in fines and sanctions and more than $24 million in settlements with former employees” alone. When you factor in additional costs, like investigating sexual assaults, settling with victims, hiring new employees and staying in Title IX compliance, that’s another $121.7 million. The report also projects Baylor will lose about $101.3 million in private donor contributions until 2019. Yikes.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Drinking water is not particularly safe in Ranger (or anywhere else, apparently) USA Today
Rick Perry got a “D” in “meat” class Daily Beast
The life of a Texas high school football coach’s wife Houston Chronicle
Police in Forney evacuated a Walmart because of a confetti toy that looked like a bomb Dallas Morning News
A Brownsville judge is back safe and sound after he was apparently, uh, kidnapped in Togo? McAllen Monitor