Report | MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative Rapid Response Group

Underground Oil Storage in Texas

COVID-19 shutdowns in the first few months of 2020 caused a severe drop in fuel demand and prices. In order to alleviate the economic burdens placed on the oil and gas industry, the Railroad Commission of Texas passed a temporary exemption in May 2020 that expands the potential options for storing oil underground. The following report explores conventional underground oil storage in salt caverns as well as alternative options and potential risks to human and environmental health. We also provide a summary of the permitting process for storage sites, highlighting periods for public involvement.

Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy 2020

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy 2020: Who’s Leading the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy on Campus? ranks campuses in three categories: shifting to renewable electricity; repowering buildings with clean energy; and adopting electric vehicles (EVs). 

Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

A Cleaner Path for Oil in Texas

The global oil price war, demand reductions resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, and the industry’s mountain of debt have left Texas oil and gas companies in crisis. But even before the crisis, oil and gas drilling in Texas posed dangers to the environment and public health. Any response to the current crisis by the Railroad Commission (RRC) and other state leaders should recognize the underlying risks created by oil and gas production and move toward correcting them.

Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Texas Stormwater Scorecard 2020

The results show nature-based infrastructure is growing across the state. Austin, which received the highest score on the 2017 publication of the scorecard, is now tied with San Antonio in first place, with Harris County close behind. All three local governments have impressive public initiatives, from San Antonio’s citywide watershed modeling and LID planning to Austin’s exemplary education program complete with workshops and manuals. San Antonio is also the only local government with any kind of nature-based infrastructure mandate.  Cities including Dallas and El Paso are considering significant nature-based infrastructure mandates, which could cost Austin and San Antonio the top honor unless Austin passes its own proposed nature-based requirements in their Land Development Code rewrite. Governments across the state incorporated incentives for private developers, and many more began public education campaigns, installed nature-based technologies on public projects, or set up projects to evaluate how to best use nature-based solutions in their communities. 

Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Trouble in the Air

People across America regularly breathe polluted air that increases their risk of premature death, and can also trigger asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts. In 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. That is equal to more than three months of the year in which ground-level ozone (the main ingredient in smog) and/or particulate pollution was above the level that the EPA has determined presents “little to no risk.” These Americans live in 89 large and small urban areas,* and in 12 rural counties. Millions more Americans are exposed to damaging levels of air pollution, but less frequently.

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