Texas News

Valarie Smith

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Wildfire potential is increased through Thursday across portions of the state, including the Western Plains and Trans Pecos.

According to a press release from the Texas A&M Forest Service, the combination of above normal temperatures and dry conditions, as well as an extended period of forecasted elevated to critical fire weather, will create an environment conducive to wildfire activity this week. Impacted areas include Amarillo, Lubbock, Wichita Falls, Midland and Alpine. The peak day for increased wildfire potential is likely Wednesday due to above normal temperatures, high wind speeds and low relative humidity over dry fuel beds.

Twitter filed a lawsuit against Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a California federal court Monday and asked a judge to halt the state’s top lawyer from investigating the company.

The social media giant’s court filings include a request for a temporary restraining order that would keep Paxton and his office from enforcing a demand that seeks documents revealing the company’s internal decision making processes for banning users, among other things.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visited Mission, Texas, on Tuesday to address the rising number of migrants arriving at the border and federal immigration policy changes.

Abbott spoke after being briefed by Border Patrol and law enforcement in the Rio Grande Valley, a high entry point for migrants.

From Texas Standard:

The Texas House of Representatives is considering several bills aimed at preventing future failures of the state’s electric grid.

Officials with the Plano school district and Plano police department are investigating allegations that classmates abused and bullied a Black middle school student.

Summer Smith said her eighth grader, a student at Haggard Middle School, was at a sleepover party when he was forced to drink a cup of urine. A video of the alleged abuse is circulating on social media.

From Texas Standard:

Many Texans who have faced economic hardships during the pandemic are now eligible for rent assistance through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

Texas lawmakers on Thursday heard testimony describing an energy market in crisis in the aftermath of last month’s historic winter storm and blackout. One way consumers could feel that pain is with skyrocketing residential gas prices.

Texas Gas Service supplies natural gas to around 650,000 customers, including many in Central Texas. When gas supplies dropped during the storm, the company had to buy it at higher prices on the spot market.

Gov. Greg Abbott Taps New Head Of Texas Utility Regulator In Wake Of Power Outages

Mar 4, 2021

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday promoted Arthur D’Andrea to chair the state’s utility regulator, replacing the Public Utility Commission leader who resigned earlier this week following widespread power outages in February.

The board overseeing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the independent nonprofit entity that operates and manages the electricity grid that covers much of Texas, fired ERCOT CEO Bill Magness Wednesday night.

The move by the board to vote in favor of a "60-day termination notice" came after they convened in a private executive session for more than three hours. The board barely discussed its decision once returning to the public session.

Texans React To Gov. Abbott's Lifting Of COVID-19 Restrictions

Mar 3, 2021

Reactions to Gov. Abbott's lifting of COVID-19 restrictions have been mixed. Some Texans are calling it a mistake, while others are saying it's a positive step forward.

The change will go into effect next week on Wednesday, March 10. Abbott said he's hopeful vaccine distribution will accelerate. So far, The Texas Tribune reports less than 7% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles sparked some frustration among lawmakers Tuesday when speaking about constituent data at the Senate Finance Committee.

In testifying, Whitney Brewster, director of the state DMV, received questions from lawmakers about a security breach with Vertafore last November that led to a change in practices at the agency.

Lee esta historia en español.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he's lifting statewide executive orders that limit occupancy for businesses and require Texans to wear masks in public spaces.

"Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%," Abbott said.

According to a new report from Save the Children looking at data from the last four months of 2020, only two states – Mississippi and Louisiana – scored worse than Texas for ensuring children are adequately fed, equipped with the tools to learn remotely, and growing up in a financially stable home.

The chairwoman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the agency that regulates the state’s electric, telecommunication, and water and sewer utilities, resigned Monday, according to a resignation letter provided to the Texas Tribune.

Texas Schools Still Tallying Storm Costs, And Some Won't Reopen Soon

Mar 1, 2021

When the winter storm hit Texas last week, the overhead sprinklers across the hall from Valerie Malone’s first-grade classroom broke and flooded rooms on both sides.

Malone’s elementary school is one of seven in the Arlington Independent School District that couldn’t open for in-person learning this week, joining dozens across the state. The fast-plummeting frigid temperatures and power outages froze sprinkler systems, destroyed flooring and disrupted crucial services to school buildings, temporarily preventing some from providing students with food and shelter.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, in a speech Friday at a major national conservative gathering, joked about his recent trip to Cancún during the Texas winter weather crisis and promised that former President Donald Trump would be a lasting force in the Republican Party.

Texas grocery store shelves have begun filling out again. But for the state’s agriculture industry, recovering from the winter storm will take time, and consumers are likely to feel it in their pockets.

The historic freeze and power outages brought agriculture across the state to a halt. Dairy farmers were forced to dump gallons of unpasteurized milk for days as processing plants were left without power. Packing houses also shut down with machinery cut off from electricity and employees unable to make their shifts, said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

State lawmakers are demanding answers about the power outages that left millions of Texans in the dark and cold during last week's winter storm.

The first hearings into what went wrong took place Thursday.

The head of the state's power grid operator on Thursday defended the group’s decision to order widespread blackouts during last week's winter storm, telling state lawmakers that doing so helped prevent a larger disaster.

Lee esta historia en español.

State lawmakers on Thursday are holding the first of what will likely be many hearings in response to the blackouts that gripped Texas last week. One question they'll be asking: How can we keep this from happening again?

Here are the options they're likely to consider.

Gov. Greg Abbott, speaking Wednesday evening in a rare statewide televised address, sought to reassure Texans that the state was moving aggressively to get to the bottom of the power grid failure that left millions of them in the cold and dark last week.

From Texas Standard:

As many Texans continue to work their way through the ripple effects of last week's storm and outages, there's little question that the operator of the electrical grid system in Texas is in the hot seat. Lawmakers are planning investigations and the governor is demanding the resignation of the chief of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT.

You’ve probably seen the horror stories about people with power bills at $5,000, $10,000 or more after the winter storm last week knocked out 40% of Texas’ power generators and sent power prices soaring.

Well, chances are that won’t happen to you.

Texas Winter Storm May Lead To COVID-19 Surge

Feb 23, 2021

Texans did a lot of things to stay safe and warm last week that weren’t necessarily pandemic-safe and could contribute to another surge in cases.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is apologizing for turning away two people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday because they could not prove they live in the United States.

On Feb. 21, it posted a statement on Twitter. UT Health Rio Valley, the clinical practice of the university, stated it "apologizes to those patients who were affected" and "did not follow the most current State of Texas guidelines."

Heather and John Paul Dineen said they did everything they could to prepare their farm for the winter storm and extreme cold temperatures that have wreaked havoc on Texas this week.

The Waxahachie couple — fulltime farmers — stocked up on food, water and extra hay for their cattle. They made sure their equipment was in working condition and they winterized their property, draining water from outside hoses and covering exposed faucets and pipes.

But even that wasn’t quite enough.

Texas Agency Bans Utility Cutoffs For Failure To Pay

Feb 22, 2021

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has implemented a ban on utility cutoffs for consumers who don’t pay their bills. The move does not apply to cooperatives or to municipality-owned utilities like CPS in San Antonio or Austin Energy.

Commission chair DeAnn Walker introduced the order during a Sunday afternoon emergency meeting. She explained that the commission met on Sunday — when disconnections aren’t allowed — to ensure that no consumer cutoffs begin on Monday.

ERCOT To End Emergency Conditions, Oncor Works To Restore Power

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it expects to come out of emergency conditions later this morning.

“There is enough generation on the electric system to allow us to begin to return to more normal operating conditions,” said Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin in a statement.

No additional outages were needed overnight to keep power supply and electric demand in balance.

Warning that the state is “not out of the woods yet,” grid managers at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said Thursday they are making progress restoring power to millions of Texans. The reason? Some power plants and infrastructure that were knocked offline due to the freezing weather are up and running again.

But the grid's condition remains critical. Half a million people are still without power, and snow is once again falling in parts of Texas, which could slow efforts to restore electricity.

WASHINGTON - As millions of Texans continued to suffer in subfreezing temperatures without power and water, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz traveled with his family to sunny Cancún, Mexico on Wednesday where the temperatures were around 80 degrees.

First spotted at an airport by a social media user who posted his photo, there was an immediate outcry overnight that a U.S. senator would travel out of the state amid the worst storm in many Texans' lifetimes.