Christopher Collins

Christopher Collins is an investigative journalist based in Abilene. The Wichita Falls native graduated from Midwestern State University in 2012 with a degree in Mass Communication. He previously has worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News and the Wichita Falls Times Record News, along with running a freelance reporting business. At the Observer, he writes about rural Texas. He can be reached on Twitter or at [email protected]

By Christopher Collins:



Mike Mimms herds 200 cattle on his ranch near Hereford; the proposed feedlot would border his property.
Environment

It’s Illegal to Take Drone Photos of Cattle Feedlots in Texas. Press Groups Say That Violates the First Amendment.

To get a sense of the Panhandle’s network of cattle feedlots, which can cause health problems for those who live around them, you've got to see it from above.

Close up, a feedlot cow is a sight to behold: It’s a hulking, broad-shouldered eating machine with a three-foot-long tongue and a jaw that never seems to stop chewing. At just 20 months old, one of them can weigh 1,300 … Read More

The Total Port Arthur refinery is shown Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 in Port Arthur, Texas. Over the past several years, Total Petrochemical's sprawling oil refinery in southeast Texas has sprayed tons of sulfuric acid and carbon monoxide into the sky. The French company's 62-year-old facility has also released cancer-causing benzene, regularly surpassed allowable pollution limits, failed to report dozens of emissions and how much. Total is the most heavily fined polluter in Texas in the 2009 fiscal year, according to the year-end report summarizing how companies were punished in the state that produces the most industrial pollution. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Environment

Six Texas Oil Refineries Are Among the Nation’s Worst Benzene Polluters, Data Shows

Benzene was detected at the facilities’ fencelines, and nearby communities could be exposed to the cancer-causing pollutant.

The 367-mile Texas Gulf Coast now holds an unenviable honor: It is home to six of the nation’s most prolific polluters of benzene, an invisible, deadly gas that elevates cancer rates. The finding was announced Thursday by the Washington, D.C.-based … Read More

Bar-G Feedyard near Summerfield is part of a vast constellation of feedlots that dot the western Panhandle.
Environment

Something in the Air

In the Texas Panhandle, which produces a fifth of the U.S. beef supply, communities are being choked by fecal dust from nearby feedlots. The state’s regulatory agency isn’t doing anything about it—and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

In the Texas Panhandle, which produces a fifth of the U.S. beef supply, communities are being choked by fecal dust from nearby feedlots. The state’s regulatory agency isn’t doing anything about it—and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. … Read More

A wild adult American bald eagle is seen feeding two juveniles in a nest near Lake Palestine, Texas in this April 25, 2005 file photo. The Interior Department will announce on Thursday, June 28, 2007 that it is removing the majestic bird from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, capping a four-decade struggle for recovery.
Environment

Bald Eagle Numbers on Lake Buchanan Hit a Record Low

The midwinter survey of bald eagles at Lake Buchanan found the lowest number ever recorded, and illegal duck hunting could be a factor.

Charles Tischler had no trouble spotting the white-throated caracara and red-tailed hawks wheeling through the sky above Lake Buchanan on Sunday. But those aren’t the birds that Tischler, a 68-year-old retired writer, came to this sprawling manmade lake to see.  … Read More

Donald Trump
Texas Politics

Trump Harvests Support in America’s Farmlands

At a farm convention in Austin, the nation’s agriculture sector warmly welcomed a president who has hurt them in the past.

Donald Trump flew down to Austin on Sunday evening to commune with the sunburned, work-weary farmers and ranchers who comprise one of his most prized voting blocs.  Trump used his speech at the annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention to … Read More

Environment

Trump Has Kneecapped Another Environmental Safeguard. Could That Spur Expanded Uranium Mining in South Texas?

The president seeks to weaken a 50-year-old federal law requiring regulators to weigh environmental risks before approving major projects.

Donald Trump fulfilled his vow to slash “intrusive” environmental regulations in favor of monied energy conglomerates. Shortly after taking office, he announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. In 2018, he moved to formally replace Barack Obama’s … Read More

Even before Ozona’s hospital closed in 1996, it had shuttered its maternity ward in the 1980s due to budget constraints.
Health Care

This West Texas Town is a Reproductive Health Void

Family planning clinics and abortion clinics across Texas have been closing at an alarming rate. Rural hospitals are shuttering their maternity wards. For many Texans, this means traveling hundreds of miles just to access basic reproductive health care services.

Critical Condition: Part 3 Labor Away Family planning clinics and abortion clinics across Texas have been closing at an alarming rate. Rural hospitals are shuttering their maternity wards. For many Texans, this means traveling hundreds of miles just to access … Read More

Texas Politics

5 Stories About Rural Texas You May Have Missed in 2019

A view into the weird, sad, and sometimes funny world of rural Texas.

Once again, we’ve completed another excruciatingly slow journey from one December to the next, exhausted and unrewarded for our trouble. Let’s take stock of what’s different: The average temperature has risen from Too Damn Hot to Even Damn Hotter. We … Read More

Environment

The EPA Faces Lawsuit Over Slaughterhouse Pollution in Waterways

The Environmental Integrity Project and other advocates are suing the EPA for failing to update wastewater pollution standards for meat processing facilities for 15 years straight.

The Trump administration has taken another hard jab at protections for the nation’s rivers and lakes—and a broad coalition of advocates is swinging right back. Last week, Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and other groups took Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) … Read More

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