Texas environmentalists are cheering new federal environmental standards that will force coal- and oil-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions and toxic pollutants or shut down. Industry leaders, however, say they could lead to layoffs and undo strain on the state's power grid.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson announced the new rules Wednesday in Washington.
Texas has 19 coal-fired power plants, more than any other state, and plans to build nine more.
Environmental groups say Texas is America's top mercury polluter and that the regulations will have scores of long-term health benefits.
Some power companies, however, argue that the new rules could lead to power shortages as plants close to for improvements. They say other plants may shut down entirely, leading to job losses.
Texas rejects Valero tax break bid
The Texas environmental agency has rejected a request by oil giant Valero for a large tax break and potential $92 million refund at six refineries that installed equipment designed to remove sulfur dioxide from crude oil.
Valero's requests were first made in 2007. The company had argued that the hydrotreater equipment should be exempt because they help reduce pollution. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Dec. 14 turned down a second request for a partial exemption, according to letters written to Valero and obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Texas grants tax breaks to companies that install pollution-reducing equipment.
Valero wanted the break for the hydrotreaters that were installed after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2006 began requiring refineries to remove sulfur dioxide from crude oil.
1 arrested, 2 teens sought in Dallas double murder
Police are searching for two more teens for questioning in the deaths of two young men found in the trunk of a burning car in Dallas.
Dallas police on Wednesday said they have issued murder warrants for 19-year-old Darryl Dotson and 18-year-old Nathan Scott. A third man, 17-year-old Debanair Wynn, was arrested on a capital murder warrant Tuesday.
Police say the bodies of 20-year-old Steven Govan and 19-year-old Jonathan Williams were found Sunday in a car that was intentionally set afire in southern Dallas.
2 found slain in Dallas-area house
Police say a man and a woman have been shot dead at a suburban Dallas house.
Lancaster police say the emergency call came in around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday from a woman who reported that two armed men had shot the two.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office identified the dead as 57-year-old Alma Guerrero and 26-year-old Roberto Galvan the Third. Police Officer Paul Beck declined to say if they were related.
The woman told police that armed intruders stormed the house and shot the woman and man, leaving unharmed a woman holding a baby. That woman reported the shootings to police.
No arrests have been made.
Lancaster is 15 miles south of Dallas.
Two Arrested For Stealing Christmas Toys
Two Central Texas men are under arrest for stealing donated Christmas toys.
The two were on probation and doing community service at Toys For Kids in Brownwood.
A volunteer saw them putting toys into their cars and reported it.
The Brownwood Bulletin says 20 year old Bubba Thomas Vannoy and 19 year old Cory Lyons were on probation for a series of school break-ins two years ago.
They now face theft charges.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Gas Prices Drop For Christmas Travel
Just in time for holiday road trips, average gasoline prices across Texas are down four cents from a week ago.
AAA Texas reports the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.05.
It’s three and four cents cheaper than that in Dallas and Fort Worth.
6.9 million Texans are expected to “drive” to visit family and friends this holiday season.
AAA Texas says families can budget for the road trip by going to www.fuelcostcalulator.com
BJ Austin, KERA News
Neurologist says Stanford not competent for trial
Medical experts for jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford continue making their case that he is not competent to be tried next month on charges he bilked investors out of $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme.
A neurologist testified at a competency hearing Wednesday in Houston federal court that Stanford has difficulty with speech and his memory due to a "significant traumatic brain injury" the financier suffered during a September 2009 jail fight.
But federal prosecutors contend Stanford is mentally stable. They want Stanford's Jan. 23 trial to proceed.
Stanford had been declared incompetent in January due to an addiction to an anti-anxiety drug he developed while jailed in Houston. Doctors that treated Stanford at a North Carolina prison hospital say he is now competent.