The State of Texas: June 27, 2014
Photo of the Day
It seems like all too often, there’s a literal explosion in Texas. This time it was a gas line rupture in Wharton County. One person was injured, and damage was done to a power plant.
Winner of the Day
Juan Carlos has skated into our hearts, and not just because he’s from Houston. In case you were somehow unaware, the dancing rollerblader is competing in America’s Got Talent and is so far doing quite well, thank-you-very-much. Below is Juan in action last week and he’ll compete again in the Sunday episode:
Fallen — Sometime parties tear the roof off the house. Other times, unfortunately, the floor caves in. Such was the case at a Houston house. “Three dozen people were injured Thursday when the second story of a garage collapsed at a Katy home where a crowd had gathered for a religious ceremony, officials and neighbors said,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “About 40 people were in a 600-square-foot room above the garage when the floor collapsed, said Tim Thomas, public information officer for the fire department.” Things could have been much worse, of course. But thankfully it appears that only three people were sent to the hospital for serious (but not critical) injuries.
Clearing the Air — After a string of losses, the state of Texas saw a victory against federal regulators. This time it had to do with a major component of Texas’s flexible pollution permit program (say that five times fast), according to the Austin American-Statesman, which calls the agreement “a win for Texas officials and, essentially, a kind of surrender by the [EPA].” The EPA had criticized the program for “setting facility-wide emissions limits on refineries and the like, thus keeping regulators in the dark about how many gases particular parts of a given refinery or industrial plant are belching into the air.” Attorney General Greg Abbott, of course, has been fighting for awhile to keep federal regulators out of Texas’s booming oil and gas business.
Tenderized Relations — Last week, Texas’s Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples started a beef with Chipotle after finding out the restaurant chain sourced grass-fed beef from Australian instead of turning to locally-raised animals. The chain had explained that local herds were too impacted by the drought, but Staples called Chipotle’s decision “misguided” and “irresponsible.” Now the Chipotle founder has agreed to sit down with Staples and provide more “information about Chipotle’s beef protocols.”
Decent Forecast — It’s not really a half-full situation, but we’ll take any news we can involving water. It would seem the spat of rain has actually made the tiniest, but most appreciative, of dents in the years-long drought. The rain has “brought improvement to every category on the U.S. Drought Monitor map,” according to the Associated Press. “Just less than 5 percent of the state was in the driest category on the map released Thursday.” Lakes aren’t doing too bad, with most of them two-thirds full. Compare this to our driest year in 2011. “More than 72 percent the state was in exceptional drought, the driest category, at the end of June 2011,” while now only 69 percent is in some stage of drought. So, yes, still mostly a half-empty situation but at least there some water!