The Army Corps of Engineers says it's denying a permit for building the oil pipeline right above the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The move comes after months of protests.

In Victory For Protesters, Army Halts Construction On Dakota Pipeline

The Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the construction of a key section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, granting a major victory to protesters who have been demonstrating for months.

The decision essentially halts the construction on the 1,172-mile oil pipeline about half a mile south of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Thousands of demonstrators from across the country had flocked to North Dakota in protest.

“Our prayers have been answered,” National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said in a statement. “This isn’t over, but it is enormously good news. All tribal peoples have prayed from the beginning for a peaceful solution, and this puts us back on track.”

Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works, said after talking with tribal officials and hearing their concerns that the pipeline could affect the drinking water, it became “clear that there’s more work to do.”

“The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing,” Darcy said in a statement.

The Army Corps says it intends to issue an Environmental Impact Statement with “full public input and analysis.”


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(Flickr/SMREILLY)

(Flickr/SMREILLY)

How the Idea Behind OPEC Started Right Here in Texas

Tomorrow, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets in Vienna to try to figure out a way to cut oil production.  For decades OPEC’s set oil prices by controlling supply. So the meeting will be closely watched because it could lead to higher oil prices.

But, the idea to manipulate oil prices by setting limits on oil, didn’t start with OPEC. It started right here in Texas.

During the oil boom of the 1930s, large oil producers were worried that independent drillers were over-supplying the market.  To control production and stabilize prices the Railroad Commission issued “pro-ration” orders to limit production from each oil well.


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Police confront protesters with a rubber bullet gun near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Sunday, during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

Police confront protesters with a rubber bullet gun near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Sunday, during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

Woman Injured At Standing Rock Protest Might Lose Arm, Family Says

A woman protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline who was wounded earlier this week might lose her arm as a result of the injury, her family says. Sophia Wilansky’s injury is the most gruesome to date of the months-long standoff at Standing Rock, N.D.

“The doctor just said she may need as many as 20 surgeries over very many months to have any hope of saving her arm and her hand,” Wilansky’s father, Wayne Wilansky, told a group of reporters outside a Minneapolis hospital.

Police and protesters — who call themselves “water protectors” — have very different explanations for how Sophia Wilansky was injured early Monday morning. Protesters say she was struck by a police weapon; police suggest she might have been involved in an explosion caused by protesters.

“Both sides agree that the overnight protest got tense, but that’s where any agreement ends,” reports Amy Sisk, a journalist with the public media collaboration Inside Energy.

Sisk, who has been reporting on the protest for NPR for months, says the clash on Sunday night saw 400 protesters and police facing off over a bridge that had been closed by authorities, blocking access to the pipeline construction site:

“As protesters took to the bridge, police deployed tear gas and sponge bullets. They also sprayed water on demonstrators while the temperature was below freezing, sparking concerns about hypothermia. Protest leaders report numerous injuries requiring hospitalization.

“Linda Black Elk is a medic at the protesters’ camp. ‘It seems like with every action with every conflict that takes place they escalate their violent tactics by using some new type of weaponry,’ [she says].”

“Rob Keller with the Morton County Sheriff’s Department says protesters refused to obey police orders, and some pelted officers with rocks. He defends police crowd control methods:

” ‘Had they not been utilized, that line would probably have been overrun and we’d have a worse situation than we have now.’ “

Protesters say police threw a concussion grenade that hit 21-year-old Wilansky and caused her injury. Wilansky’s father told The Associated Press that there were multiple witnesses — “and my daughter, who was completely conscious, said they threw a grenade right at her.”


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The city of Georgetown, Texas is on the cusp of buying 100% renewable energy. The city pursued renewables as the Clean Power Plan was being developed by the Obama administration. The plan is before a federal appeals but the new administration is expected to kill the plan before the court issues its ruling. (Lorne Matalon)

The city of Georgetown, Texas is on the cusp of buying 100% renewable energy. The city pursued renewables as the Clean Power Plan was being developed by the Obama administration. The plan is before a federal appeals but the new administration is expected to kill the plan before the court issues its ruling. (Lorne Matalon)

Texas City Moves To 100 Percent Renewable Energy, Spurred By Federal Plan That New Administration Is Expected To Spurn

GEORGETOWN, Texas — Donald Trump’s victory and the impending Republican majority in Congress mean the Obama administration’s initiative to cut greenhouse gas emissions – the  Clean Power Plan – is almost certainly dead on arrival. It’s currently before a federal appeals court, under challenge by 24 states, but the new administration is expected to spike the plan before the court rules.

Yet one conservative Texas city has decided to do what the plan was meant to help promote. It’s going 100 percent renewable – wind and solar – in a state largely defined by oil and gas. There are environmental benefits to the switch, but the decision is all about the money.

In the central Texas city of Georgetown, the droning sound of natural gas powered industrial air conditioning represents unpredictability. Natural gas prices are low now, but historically that market is like a yo-yo. This city of 55,000 is on the cusp of joining Burlington, Vermont, population 42,000, as the country’s only sizable cities buying 100 percent power from renewable energy. Liberal Burlington is a far cry ideologically from fiercely conservative Georgetown, but they’re fellow travelers in energy.

“So we begin the conversations of what the future might look like,” explained Georgetown’s utility chief Jim Briggs.

The city had been buying power from a utility that was expanding its coal-fired power plants.  But when the Obama administration began pushing back against new coal plants, Briggs decided to go all green, and it had nothing to do with the environment.

“It was regulation and legislation coming out of Washington,” he explained.

Then there was the money.

“We wanted the least risk, most cost effective option we could get for the community.”


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A Border Patrol veihicle drives past vehicle barriers near Deming, NM. (Jim Greenhill via Flickr/Creative Commons)

A Border Patrol veihicle drives past vehicle barriers near Deming, NM. (Jim Greenhill via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Immigration And Border Security Top President-Elect Trump’s To-Do List

Donald Trump told CBS he plans to build a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. Adding he’s not going to round up all unauthorized immigrants as he vowed during the campaign — just the law breakers.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
From Roma, Texas, Border Patrol Agent Isaac Villegas looks out over the Rio Grande and into Ciudad Miguel Alemán, Mexico, on March 8, 2016. (Martin do Nascimento)

From Roma, Texas, Border Patrol Agent Isaac Villegas looks out over the Rio Grande and into Ciudad Miguel Alemán, Mexico, on March 8, 2016. (Martin do Nascimento)

With Trump in D.C., Texas might spend less on border

If President-Elect Donald Trump delivers on his promise to dramatically beef up security on the U.S.-Mexico border, leading Texas lawmakers say they might quit spending so much state tax money on it.

With a tight Texas budget session ahead in 2017, state legislators are already looking for every available dollar. Not having to spend $800 million on border security — the amount allocated in the previous two-year budget — would amount to a huge financial windfall at the state Capitol. Not counting federal funds, the Legislature spent about $114 billion in the last budget.

“We’ve been spending a lot of state resources on issues associated with the border, border security, transnational gangs, human trafficking, so I look forward to maybe holding back on some of that money, actually,” said Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. “There’s all sorts of talk about what an administration that will work with Texas border states can do. It’s kind of a new day.”

No one knows for sure what promises Washington will actually deliver on. Already Trump’s vows to undo the North American Free Trade Agreement, rip up the Iranian nuclear deal and impose term limits on Congress are meeting the reality of financial markets, geopolitics and entrenched government bureaucracy.

With the uncertainty in Washington in mind, Republican state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, author of the border security package in the Texas House of Representatives, said he wants Texas, which straddles two-thirds of the U.S-Mexico border, to keep a robust presence along the international boundary until lawmakers see what concrete steps are taken in a Trump Administration.


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Diver in the San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Part (David Martin Davies)

Diver in the San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Part (David Martin Davies)

Rising Concerns That New Oilfield Could Threaten Balmorhea Springs

The recent discovery of a massive oilfield in West Texas has many in the region on edge. Some are anticipating on a flow of jobs to the area but others are concerned that the drilling will spoil the desert’s beloved springs.

Scuba diving into the San Solomon Springs is like exploring a coral reef – except it’s in the middle of the West Texas Chihuahuan desert.

The water is crystal clear and filled with fish. They swim right up to the divers and surround them.

In a cave there are six large catfish who are less social. And 25 feet deep at the bottom the spring water is evident – jetting up through the sand – keeping the pool at a constant temperature.”

“It’s heated by the springs – by the lava underneath so it’s about 72 to 76 degrees always,” said Edward Wiles.


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Elise Pepple

Elise Pepple

West Texas Public Radio Names Maine Producer Elise Pepple as General Manager

Elise Pepple, a producer of community outreach programming for public radio and podcasts will become the general manager of Marfa Public Radio (KRTS) and West Texas Public Radio (KXWT) this fall.

She has produced for the nationally recognized Story Corps radio series as well as for isolated radio stations in Alaska. Pepple has been a TEDx speaker. She is a resident of Portland, Maine.

“This is a dream position for me,” Pepple said. “It’s an opportunity to help sustain and shape remarkable public radio stations. KRTS and KXWT are a platform to celebrate the wide range of Far West Texas.”

She said she has a strong interest in programming that engages residents in remote rural communities and encourages them to tell their life stories.

Jim Byerlotzer of Midland, president of the Marfa Public Radio Corp. board, welcomed Pepple’s experience in remote parts of the country.

“Our stations in the Big Bend and Permian Basin serve truly distinctive communities set in a huge, magnificent but sometimes isolating landscape,” he said. “Their common radio stations can be a vital unifying force.”


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Rudy Garza and Elise Pepple
photograph by Rachel
A rainbow over the Marfa Plain. The Marfa Plain sustains some of the most robust native grasslands in West Texas.
Karl Gebhardt, McDonald Observatory
(Flickr/SMREILLY)
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The writings and drawings of an old Texas solider

The first adult book Lonn ever read was The Adventures of General Marbot. He was seven years old.

This week on the Rambling Boy, Lonn tells us about the book’s author, John W. Thomason Jr — a widely published Texan whose career in the Marines took him all over the globe and was the inspiration for both his stories and his professional drawings.

 

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Monday evenings after the 7 pm newscast.
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photograph by Rachel
A rainbow over the Marfa Plain. The Marfa Plain sustains some of the most robust native grasslands in West Texas.

Where the Great Plains Meet the Mountains: the Native Grasslands of West Texas

The West Texas grasslands are a sight to see. In autumn, the golden expanse of the Marfa Plain or the Diablo Plateau shines beneath a brilliant blue sky, to dazzling effect. The grasslands are also a foundation – central to … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm
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Rudy Garza and Elise Pepple

Thu. Dec 1 Interview: Rudy Garza on barber culture and visiting Marfa for the first time

Rudy Garza used to dream about visiting Marfa. But as a barber based in San Antonio, never managed to find the time until this past weekend.

On this episode of West Texas Talk, he sits down with Elise Pepple to talk about barber culture, his most memorable cut, and his impressions of the town he wanted to visit for so long.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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David Shields came to Mexico 35 years ago from his native Scotland. Today he is one of Mexico's leading energy analysts. (Lorne Matalon)

Tue. Nov 22 Interview: David Shields, Mexican Energy Analyst

On this edition of West Texas Talk, Lorne Matalon speaks with Mexican energy analyst David Shield in Mexico City.

The Scotland-born Shields is widely followed in Mexico and abroad as one of the most credible sources of information on Mexico’s energy sector. For the first time since Mexico nationalized its oil and gas market in 1938, an act that resulted in the expulsion of foreign energy companies, Mexico’s domestic energy market is opening up for both competition and foreign investment. The reform was introduced in 2013 to rescue an under-performing energy sector, one that has battled inefficiency, corruption and most recently a low price environment.

Matalon and Shields also discuss electricity which on average costs 25% more than electricity in the United States for both residential and commercial customers.

His consulting work has ranged from advising companies on projects, investment opportunities and has included updating companies on changes in Mexican energy policy. He is also active in promoting accountability in public tenders at the state-run energy companies through a transparency program promoted by the Mexican Federal Comptroller’s Office.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Remembering J. Frank Dobie at the Dobie Dichos

J. Frank Dobie was a folklorist and writer often dubbed “the father of Texas literature.”

Lonn and Dedie recently went to Oakville, Texas for an event called Dobie Dichos — a gathering of Texas writers to commemorate Dobie’s life and works.

Today on the Rambling Boy, Lonn tells us about the Dichos, Dobie’s impact, and how Lonn’s family might have crossed paths with the Dobie forebears.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Monday evenings after the 7 pm newscast.
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