Five stories that have North Texas talking: Pipeline responsible for Arkansas spill hooks into Texas, Kaufman County D.A. and wife to be honored before overflow crowd, SMU wants a more diverse herd of Mustangs and more.
After a 65 year-old pipeline in Arkansas burst, dousing a Little Rock suburb in crude oil, public officials are asking questions about the inspection process. Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline which ruptured Friday in Mayflower is 858 miles long. It starts in Illinois and ends right here in Texas. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is investigating the spill and says Exxon has assured him that Pegasus inspections were up to date. Daniels says that raises questions about whether the inspection process is good enough.
More than half of the nation's pipelines were built before 1970. More than 2.5 million miles of pipe run underground throughout the country and according to federal statistics, there are about 280 significant spills a year. The NTSB investigates major pipeline accidents and reports the findings are almost always the same; cracks and corrosion were found during inspection, but never fixed. The NTSB has investigated 15 pipeline accidents in Texas between 1969 and 2000. To view the complete list, click here. Federal data shows that on average, nearly 3.5 million gallons of oil spills from pipelines each year. [NPR]
- But accidents certainly aren’t derailing growth in the oil industry. Between January and February, the Texas Railroad Commission issued close to 4,000 permits for drilling, mostly for crude oil. Economist Karr Ingham says that’s the highest two month number in the history of the Texas Petro Index. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the upstream oil and gas sector employed more than 267,000 workers at the end of 2012 which was greater than expected. Ingham estimates the oil and gas sector makes up about 12 percent of the Texas economy. [KUHF]
- Dignitaries from across the state including Governor Rick Perry will pour into North Texas today to honor slain Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia in a public memorial service. It is scheduled for 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale, 3018 N. Belt Line Road in Mesquite. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Wortham, 300 S. Third St. in Wortham. An overflow crowd is expected to memorialize two people who family members say shared a deep love for one another. “It was a match made in heaven,” said J.R. McLelland, Mike McLelland’s oldest son. “They were two peas in a pod. She backed him in everything he did.” The Kaufman County Courthouse and other county buildings will close today 11 a.m. The county offices, with the exception of emergency services, will remain closed the remainder of the day in tribute to the McLellands. [Dallas Morning News]
- It was a short-lived bid for freedom. The inmate who took out the trash, hopped the razor-wire fence and escaped the from the Lew Sterrett jail early Wednesday morning has been caught. Sheriff’s officials announced 38 year old Donald Greenlee’s capture just after 1 a.m. No details yet on how it happened. Before his escape, Greenlee had been held on felony burglary charges. [WFAA]
- SMU wants to diversify its student body, so the university is partnering with a well known charter school company to make that happen. KIPP charter schools tend to be in zip codes with large minority populations and low performing public schools. Going forward, SMU will provide a free summer program for KIPP students and waive the application fee for those applying. Most importantly, SMU pledges to admit five to seven KIPP grads each school year. As of now, Truth Academy in East Oak Cliff is Dallas’ only KIPP campus. Another opens in the Red Bird area in August and there are plans to add nine more by 2022. [Dallas Morning News]