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Waste Control Specialists' Federal Waste Facility in Andrews County (Courtesy of Waste Control Specialists)

Andrews’ City Manager Glen Hackler on High-Level Nuclear Waste

Earlier this month, the House of Congress passed a bill to move forward on plans for building out the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada. Some legislators hope this will be the final home for the country’s nuclear waste — a problem the federal government has struggled with for several decades. The overdue decision hangs in a political balance, with Senate approval uncertain. 

The Department of Energy is also tasked with finding “interim” homes for the high-level nuclear waste. In this case, “interim” means anywhere from sixty to a hundred years. 

One of those potential sites is in Andrews County, Texas, where the company Waste Control Specialists already operates a low-level nuclear waste site. In 2016, WCS submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store high-level nuclear waste. The company halted the review after financial concerns, but have resumed the licensing process once again. Although some Andrews’ County officials have expressed support of the project, not everyone is convinced. 

Andrews City Manager Glen Hackler says there simply isn’t enough information about the project. “It needs to have the right geology, the right science, and the proper regulatory oversight,” Hackler says. “That’s the official position of the city of Andrews as the governing entity.”

Photo courtesy of Ector ISD

Ector Middle School May Secure Non-Profit Charter Partnership

Ector County Independent School District is getting closer securing a partnership with a non-profit organization that could take over operations for Ector Middle School next year. 

The ECISD Board of Trustees approved an agreement last month with Ector Success Academy Network – the entity that would operate the school as a charter beginning Fall 2018.


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Democratic candidates for governor Andrew White (left) and Lupe Valdez (right) hold a debate at St. James Episcopal Church in Austin on Friday, May 11, 2018. (Photo: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune)

Lupe Valdez, Andrew White clash over abortion, immigration in debate

The Democratic runoff candidates for governor sparred Friday evening over abortion and immigration in their first and likely only debate before the May 22 election.


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The spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park in West Texas. (Travis Bubenik/KRTS)

With State Park Pool Closed, Balmorhea is in For a Long, Hot Summer

The community, which depends heavily on the pool to attract tourists, is currently benefiting from the Permian Basin oil boom.


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On a map of Highway 67 drivers write out potential changes, like rest areas and passing lanes. (Carlos Morales / KRTS)

TxDOT Hosts Public Meetings for US 67 Corridor Study

The Texas Department of Transportation is currently in the middle of conducting a two-year study on the Highway 67 Corridor. As tourism and travel along the highway increases, the study aims to identify short, medium, and long term projects for the corridor. 


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Lupe Valdez and Andrew White will debate Friday in the runoff for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor. (Photo by ROBIN JERSTAD/MARJORIE KAMYS COTERA VIA TEXAS TRIBUNE)

WATCH: Democratic Candidates For Texas Governor Set To Debate Ahead Of Runoff

The two candidates in the runoff to become the Democratic nominee for Texas governor will meet tonight for their first and only debate.


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May 11th News Editor Roundtable

Like the region itself, the news of West Texas is sweeping in its scope. So to help us break it all down, we have news editors from across the region joining us. In this roundtable, we hear from Laura Dennis with the Odessa American and Robert Halpern at the Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa.


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Machines harvest frac sand at the Black Mountain Sand company’s mine in Kermit, Texas. (Photo by Natalie Krebs)

In West Texas, Fracking Companies Face a Tough Challenger – The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

Out in the sand dunes of west Texas, a tiny lizard has been wrapped up in a big controversy for years. The four-inch long dunes sagebrush lizard calls the middle of the Permian Basin home, but conservationists have long feared the oil boom there would be detrimental to the lizard’s rare habitat. But in the past year, a new threat has emerged.

The process of hydraulic fracking relies on the use of a very specific type of sand called frac sand. And the recent increase in mining for it is the new threat facing the dunes sagebrush lizard. This has left conservationists scrambling to find new ways to protect them.


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In May, Balmorhea State Park began limiting visitors to 1,300 people a day. (Diana Nguyen)

Balmorhea State Park Pool Closes After Structural Damage Found

If you’re in West Texas and planning on making a trip to the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world, you’ll have to wait.

That’s because Balmorhea State Park pool has been closed  due to “structural failure.”


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Photo by Steve Jurvetson

Environmental groups ask feds to protect threatened West Texas lizard

Two environmental groups asked the federal government on Tuesday to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as threatened or endangered.


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This Week’s West Texas Headlines: Walkouts, Boundary lines and Charter School Proposals

Like the region itself, the news of West Texas is sweeping in its scope. So to help us break it all down, we have news editors from across the region joining us. In this roundtable, we hear from Laura Dennis with the Odessa American and Robert Halpern at the Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa.


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Dr. Ron Green (Image Courtesy of Southwest Research Institute)

Dr. Ron Green on Understanding West Texas Water

In the early 1950s, over-pumping water in Pecos County led to Comanche Springs drying out. In an effort to not repeat history, researchers are now trying to better understand West Texas’ water systems and how to properly manage them. This research is spurred by growing interest in the Balmorhea area from the oil and gas industry.

Dr. Ron Green is a groundwater hydrologist with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. He joined us to talk about the current understanding of water systems in West Texas, and some of the research that will happen in the near future. 

Manny Varona-Torres and Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand (Diana Nguyen for Marfa Public Radio)

U.T. Arlington’s C.L.E.A.R. is Researching Produced Water Recycling

The upswing of oil and gas production has spurred scientists and researchers to look at ways to diminish the potential impact of oil and gas production on water resources. In West Texas, part of the solution could mean finding effective ways to recycle produced water — waste byproduct made during oil and gas production.

Diana Nguyen speaks with Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand from the Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis Remediation(C.L.E.A.R) about recent research on recycling produced water. The organization partnered with the company Challenger Water Solutions to conduct this research, which Hildenbrand says has been successful.

“The implications for this are…to improve environmental stewardship, but also to save companies money in their operating costs,” Hildenbrand says.

He joined us to talk about the research, its implications, and the water monitoring C.L.E.A.R has been conductingin Balmorhea since 2016.

At Agave Fest, Archeologist Will Discuss Bi-National Research into the Region’s Past

Bison-hunting on the plains, agave-roasting in the desert – throughout its epic sweep, Native American life in our region was most often nomadic. One place stands apart. La Junta – the confluence of the Rio Grande and Rio Conchos – … Continue reading

Nature Notes is broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:35 am and 4:45 pm
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Thu. May 17 Interview: Exploring the Big Bend with Ben English

On this episode, Diana Nguyen speaks to Ben English. He’s an eighth generation Texan who moved to the Big Bend when he was two years old. At one point, his grandparents ran the the old Lajitas Trading Post, while he worked and lived on ranches. He went on to become a DPS trooper and is now retired. He finally ended up back in the region a few years ago.

They discuss English’s childhood and his first book, “Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend,” which was published last year by TCU Press.

West Texas Talk is broadcast each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.
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Thu. May 10 Interview: Literary Criticism, Earthquakes, and Walking with Lannan Resident David Ulin

On this episode, Rachel Monroe speaks to writer David Ulin about how his experiences in New York and Los Angeles influenced his writing. They discuss two of his non-fiction works, The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith, and Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles.

The writer spent several years at the LA Times as a book editor and critic. He is currently assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.  A second edition of his book, The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time, will be published September 4, 2018 with a new introduction and afterword.

Ulin will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, May 13 at 6 pm.

West Texas Talk is broadcast each Thursday at 6:00 PM and each Friday at 9:00 PM.
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Six Months Later: Sutherland Springs Community Breaks Ground On New Sanctuary

Saturday marked exactly six months since a gunman stormed into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and left 26 people dead. However, the small town observed the day not with sorrow but with a sense of rebirth as they broke ground at the site of their new church building.

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May 4th West Texas News Round Up

Like the region itself, the news of West Texas is sweeping in its scope. So to help us break it all down, we have news editors from across the region joining us. In this roundtable, we hear from Laura Dennis with the Odessa American and Robert Halpern at the Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa.

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