Cultivator: News for January 31-February 6

Cultivator 2: SpaceX-plosions; CPS Coal Report; Sewage and Still Waters

Welcome to the second edition of your weekly ecological, commonsensical, and anti-commercial news wrap for the Greater San Antonio and South Texas bioregions (i.e., the watersheds of the San Antonio, Medina, and Guadalupe Rivers as well as the wider Gulf they feed). (Oh, and Happy Pigskin Superspreader Day! Please wear your mask, do your distancing, and love the land.)

Did we miss any critical area eco-stories? Tell us about it:

SpaceX Files

Another SpaceX-ploding fireball over South Texas called a success (San Antonio Express-News)

“We’ve just got to work on the landing a little bit,” the company’s principal integration engineer said.

RELATED: Unnoticed in the rush for Gulf drilling leases in Trump’s final days was a SpaceX purchase for derelict deepwater oil rigs for possible future ‘Starship’ spaceports. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that each launch puts out as much climate pollution as shooting 341 people (32 of whom can’t quit fit in their seats) over the Atlantic Ocean, Treehugger estimates. Unsurprisingly, not everyone’s a fan.

While Another Gulf is Possible’s invitation to file objections with the FAA to help stop the expansion of the Boca Chica launch site has expired, the information shared is good, including their highlight of SpaceX owner Elon Musk’s comment that “we’ve got a lot of land with nobody around, and so if it blows up, it’s cool.”

San Antonio Rolling Off Coal

Let’s start this conversation off correctly: Under the terms of the San Antonio’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, CPS Energy must close their coal plant by 2030 (by our estimates). Then there’s our moral obligations to do so to help keep the world from terrifying runaway warming scenarios. With that contextualizing, let’s move on to Friday night scramble to report.

The short take is: CPS says that residents are looking at a $6-12 per month per bill increase to transition off coal. But a fast and dirty read of the report suggests they are overlooking plenty of variables. Expect heavy debate.

RELATED: CPS Energy prepared the ground for this delayed and internally debated release by paying the San Antonio Report to run Ed Kelly’s love letter to the utility he serves—as, we must add, the most cantankerous, transparency-averse ‘company man’ on the Board of Trustees who really should step down. While listed as “Sponsored Content,” its sentiments aren’t so distant from another love letter penned to CPS less than a year ago, this one by local columnist Rick Casey.

Trail Runners

Hike from the Capitol to the Alamo: new 100-mile trail project underway (KXAN)

San Antonio Parks committee signs off on renaming West Side hike-bike trailhead for events coordinator and equality advocate Dora Jordan, a recent victim of COVID-19. (Express-News)

Revisions to San Pedro Creek await public input after discovery of historic Black church’s footprint (San Antonio Report)

Discharge Dispatch

Proposed: 60,000 gallons/year wastewater into Long Hollow Creek/Sabinal River

Editorial: Rivers are lifeblood of region (Uvalde Leader-News)

Take Action: Tell Young Life to Halt Plans to Discharge Wastewater into One of Texas’ Last Pure Rivers (

Proposed: 365,000 gallons/year of wastewater into Honey Creek

Honey Creek Wastewater Dispute Pits Environment Against Development In Texas Hill Country (TPR)

Beside the Gulf Waters

Volunteers Needed: San Antonio Bay Partnership puts call out to help clean Middle Texas Coast of abandoned crab traps. (Victoria Advocate)

Deadly to many species, 38,000 of the traps have been removed since Texas Parks program started in 2001.

State fines Formosa $334K for air quality violations (Victoria Advocate)

Remember when we told you in our last Cultivator edition not to thank Point Comfort-based Formosa Plastics Corp. for the settlement money now being used to study the impact of microplastics? They ain’t done poisoning the coast yet.

Whooping crane survey canceled due to pandemic (Victoria Advocate)

“The whooping crane population is now estimated to be more than 500 birds, according to aerial winter surveys conducted in recent years. All of the whooping cranes alive today, including wild and captive, are descendants of the last remaining 15 cranes that were wintering at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in 1941.”

All Our Relations

Muscovy Ducks Are Protected in Parts of Texas. A Houston Subdivision Is Debating Their Slaughter (Texas Monthly)

The birds have been waddling around the Copper Grove neighborhood for years, but now some residents are crying fowl.

Your News-of-the-Weird wrap on human/nonhuman relations, Texas-style (Texas Observer)

Starring a dog who shot his “owner” in the leg.

Balmorhea of our Hearts

Extended Balmorhea closure presents headaches for swimmers, local businesses (Marfa Sentinel)

We recall as if it were yesterday when it was Fear Factor Scarlet that Apache fracking would explode the cherished springs. Now it’s the retreat of oilfield workers in a downturn that’s turboboosting a hunger for tourists, in spite of COVID spread.

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