Galveston’s Texas-Size Plan to Stop the Next Big Storm

Southeast Texas’ coast is flat and twiggy, bordered mostly by the sea and emblems of the region’s biggest economies—high-rise hotels and oil and smoke-puffing gas refineries. The coastal resort city of Galveston, about an hour’s drive southeast of downtown Houston, transports more tons of cargo than any other port in the United States. It’s a peaceful, watery place. Two long, thin bodies of land stretch toward each other along the Gulf Coast—Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, separated by l...

I Went to Kenya to Get Over a Broken Heart. Then Bad “Texas” Barbecue Broke My Heart Again.

The sign above my head read “Texas Barbeque.” The smell of brisket, pork ribs, and other slow-cooked meats wafted from just beyond the swinging double glass doors in front of me. But even if the scene felt somewhat like home, I couldn’t escape the truth. I was more than 8,600 miles from where I grew up and lived part-time in the quiet piney woods of East Texas. I was on the outskirts of Kenya’s cosmopolitan capital, Nairobi.By then, I’d spent six weeks traveling Kenya. I intended to somehow avoi...

The Deepwater Horizon’s Very Unhappy Anniversary | Hakai Magazine

In March 2024, about a dozen scientists and crew members ventured into the Gulf of Mexico armed with an underwater rover, crab traps, and other research kit. Led by Craig McClain, a deep-sea biologist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the team set out to study the site where, on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and setting off one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.

It was McClain’s third trip to the disaster’s ground zero, an...

The Man Planting Live Oaks to Save Louisiana’s Coastal Ridges

Bob and Dorothy Thibodeaux were married for more than 60 years, until Dorothy died last August. They raised eight children together; four more were lost during pregnancies, Thibodeaux, 83, recalls each time he talks of his family. Now widowed, he thinks about his late wife on the warm spring afternoons he spends sitting quietly on their home’s front porch, where an old live oak tree grows in front of it. He planted it in 1968, in the early years after he and Dorothy moved to Church Point, Louisi...

Climate change is hitting the heart of Cajun country—through its crawfish

Dane Powell put his name on small-town east Texas when he opened Dane’s Crawfish and More in 2020. The restaurant was an immediate hit among Kirbyville's rural population of roughly 2,000, even if COVID-19 restrictions forced them to work out of a drive-thru window.Restaurants specializing in the freshwater crustacean and crawfish farming are common in the region. East Texas is deeply influenced by south Louisiana’s Cajun French culture—descendants of exiled colonial French Canadians. Much of th...

LNG production comes with a price, Gulf Coast communities warn

This 2-part series was co-produced by EHN and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 2 here.Este reportaje también está disponible en español.CAMERON PARISH, La.—In southwest Louisiana, amidst natural disasters and industrial expansion, everyone’s lost something — boats, income, family, homes — Leo Dyson admits.“The house is nothing,” Dyson, a retired commercial fisherman, told EHN of he and his wife’s property lost to Hurricane Rita’s estimated 18-feet of storm...

15 Years After Hurricane Ike: How Bolivar Peninsula and Its Food Culture Have Changed

My mother almost always orders the stuffed shrimp. No matter the occasion nor the restaurant, her routine when visiting our beach cabin on the southeast Texas coast has been predictable for as many years as I can remember. She opens the menu—these days, after searching for her blue-and-pink­–framed reading glasses—and scans it for a few minutes, as if contemplating trying a new dish that night. Then, without fail, she gently folds the menu shut, looks up, and says, “I think I’m getting the stuff...

From Sea to Plate to Sea: How Oyster Shells Are Shoring Up Coastlines

It’s essentially a return to an age-old practice. “We’re not coming up with something new,” says Darrah Bach, who manages the CRCL’s oyster shell recycling program. “But we’re providing for a system that worked beautifully for a long, long time.”
Louisiana is uniquely suited for oyster shell recycling. The state produces more oysters than anywhere in the US – an industry of both wild harvested and farmed oysters that makes up 50 percent of the nation’s supply. The Louisiana Department of Health...

Citrus crisis: As an iconic Florida crop fades, another tree rises

The citrus industry, long a defining symbol of Florida, is facing an existential crisis due to a plant disease that arrived in the state in 2005 and has spread to affect 80% of the orange groves. In 2004, Florida had an estimated 7,000 growers. Today, there are about 2,000. If the latest estimates hold, the state’s current growing season will yield 61% less fruit than last season, partly due to hurricane effects.

The Estes family’s most productive trees have been cut down and burned.

Back at his office, Mr. Estes leans back in a chair and crosses his hands over his chest. Years after the arrival of what’s called citrus greening disease, “we really don’t have a good answer,” he says.

What he does have is a willingness to adapt. He and other farmers aim to chart a path of ingenuity that can keep agriculture – and its livelihood for workers – in the state. To do that, a first step is to prove that new crops like pongamia fulfill their promise.

In these cemeteries, nature also rests in peace

At its most peaceful, the Indiangrass Preserve in southeast Texas is hushed and still. Its springtime canvas is lush with prairie grass; monarch butterflies cling to yellow tickseed flowers as eastern bluebirds circle overhead. Come summer, rains will douse its shallow wetlands, where bobcats pause to drink as they prowl for cottontails.

An agrochemical research facility occupied part of the site as recently as 2001. Then the Katy Prairie Conservancy restored the land into a nature preserve.


What happened to New Orleans’ Black truck farming culture? – Scalawag

George Lafargue is proud of his tomatoes. They're not like the tomatoes you'd buy in the supermarket, their centers lifeless in taste, color an off-white. His are as red on the inside as on the outside, full of flavor, like fireworks on your taste buds. As tomatoes should be, he says.

He grows some of his stock for George's Produce, his storefront in New Orleans' Westbank, on a 23-acre plot of land he owns outside the city. The rest of it comes from other small farmers across south Louisiana an

It Runs Downhill: The Fight to Save Florida’s Indian River Lagoon —

In 2018, University of Central Florida undergraduate student Heidi Waite published a study in the journal “Marine Pollution Bulletin” that found that oysters in the Mosquito Lagoon, the lagoon’s northernmost end, had the highest level of microplastics ever measured — at any time, anywhere on Earth. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that measure less than 5 millimeters in length, the leftovers of larger pieces of plastic gradually breaking down. Researchers have found that these tiny piece

It was one of South’s earliest free Black towns. Now it fights a highway.

“We need to stay steadfast,” Beverly Steele, one of the organizers, tells a crowd at a meeting in June.

In the violent, post-Reconstruction era, remaining silent helped keep the community safe, but that won’t work any longer. So its small band of community organizers is speaking up.

Officially, what’s known today as Royal was founded in 1865, but the community’s oral history can be traced back for decades prior to the Civil War, residents say. And part of what they want the world to know is th

‘We’re trying to protect our kids’: Ohio town seeks answers after spill

State officials have advised residents in the region to drink bottled water. The EPA says it has screened the homes of roughly 500 residents so far and not found contaminants. The agency also pledges to hold railroad company Norfolk Southern responsible for cleanup costs.

A parade of emergency responders and politicians – and yesterday the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency – has come to the town trying to help. And today the Biden administration said a team of medical profess

Test in Ohio: How to repair derailed trust

“It’s just devastating for our little town,” Ms. Unkefer says as she wraps a customer’s flowers. “We’ve been through so much. We’re just trying to survive, and we will. But you just worry.”

Working at a flower shop in town, Kathleen Unkefer continue​s​ drinking bottled water. She mentions friends who now have trouble selling their local honey and chickens.

“You’re not going to turn things around in a 24-hour news cycle,” says Stan Meiburg, ​a former Environmental Protection Agency official now

Not rolling on the river: Drought tests America’s main water highway

“I never say we control the river,” Professor Willson says. “We’re trying to manage the river. When you manage something, you’re using your experiences, your knowledge.”

That can mean continued investment in infrastructure and research, and managing water in a way that’s functional for both the river and its surrounding communities.

Water levels in the Mississippi River fell far below normal this autumn. Recent rains are starting to allow freight to flow more freely. But questions remain about

Shaken but resilient, Florida residents move forward together after Ian

“It’s really inspiring to see everybody come together the way that they always talk about on the news,” says Ms. Liepitz’s daughter Damie Liepitz, referring to the recent generosity of their neighbors in sharing food, shelter, and a gas-powered generator.

Questions have begun surfacing about whether state and local officials acted swiftly enough in ordering evacuations for residents in parts of southwest Florida ­– official evacuation orders were handed down just 24 hours prior to Ian’s landfal

Rise of the climate optimists, pushing back against gloom

To take a fatalistic approach is “to risk people throwing up their hands in the air and not doing anything,” says Christopher Barile, a researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The focus on hope – visible in books, podcasts, and nonprofit efforts – is partly a response to pessimism, to a rising sense of feeling either overwhelmed or that there’s nothing humanity can do. One sign of the times: In a 10-nation survey last year , 59% of young people age 16 to 25 said they are extremely or very

Five years after Hurricane Harvey, a legacy of perseverance

“There’s a capacity inequity,” says Samuel Brody, a flood mitigation expert at Texas A&M University. “Without the capacity to understand, to plan, and to mitigate” for future flood risks, “small communities are going to continue to be left behind.”

Many people in rural regions like this one have relatively low incomes, don’t have flood insurance, and live where local governments have limited resources to bolster their support.

Their struggles hold lessons for the nation amid warnings by scient

Wildfires, hurricanes, and lessons on cooperation from Florida Panhandle

The Florida Forest Service launched a public service campaign earlier this year to help residents better prepare their yards and homes, as well as suggested supplies for emergencies. And timber-recovery block grants, like the one allocated in 2019 that is helping pay for debris removal, could help as well.

Florida is awake to the risk and trying to respond.

Eventually rains helped put out the fires. But climate change could increase the number of double-headed crises like this one, where the w
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