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Austin ranks on nation's solar industry scene, but far behind leaders

Austin is one of the top cities in America for solar power generation, according to a new report from Environment Texas, but still lags far behind other cities like San Antonio for photovoltaic generating capacity.

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When it comes to solar, Dallas is left in the dark, new report says

Oncor, the electric delivery company in North Texas, is owned by Energy Future Holdings, a debt-ridden company bought by Wall Street investors in 2007 that's on the verge of bankruptcy. 

"Oncor has a solar program but haven't put anywhere near the resources that Austin and San Antonio have," Metzger said. 

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San Antonio Number Six in the Nation in Solar Power

"The cost of solar coming down, there is a growing awareness of solar power as a mainstream energy solution with widespread benefits for our health, our economy, and the environment," said Luke Metzger of Environment Texas.

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EPA Seeks to Clarify Federal Water Law

n 2007, when crude oil spilled into Edwards Creek, a seasonally flowing stream in Titus County, the Environmental Protection Agency did not step in to demand a cleanup.

But it wasn’t because it didn’t want to. The agency said at the time that though it believed the federal Clean Water Act gave it jurisdiction over the stream, that authority was too complex to prove.

In an effort to clarify the EPA’s authority in such cases, the federal agency, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, proposed a joint rule last week that would better define the scope of bodies of water protected under the Clean Water Act. If finalized by the federal Office of Management and Budget, the rule change could allow for increased government oversight of smaller bodies of water in Texas and across the nation, including intermittent streams like the one in Titus County.

“These streams flow into our great waterways," said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas. "People don’t realize their importance.”

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Tough new fracking rules in Colorado drawing keen attention in Texas, where boom rages on

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, a citizen advocacy group, also found hope in Colorado’s actions. “Frequently, legislators in this state ask for other models to look to, and Colorado, being a big oil and gas state, is somewhere Texas officials will take seriously," he said.

Neither Metzger nor Marston expects much action in Texas during this election year, when key positions, including governor and energy regulators, are being contested.

In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office and the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment led the process. “I’d love to think we could have the support of the governor in Texas,” Marston said, “but that’s probably a lot less likely than in Colorado.”

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