Rural Reporting Project
Texas has the largest rural population of any state — 3.8 million people — yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country. The Observer has made reporting on rural Texas a priority with this long-term project. Staff writer Christopher Collins, who has investigated how crop dusting is putting Texans’ health at risk and the connection between destructive Panhandle wildfires and a mismanaged federal land program, is spearheading the effort from West Texas.
The EPA Told Texas to Crack Down on Dangerous Air Emissions in 2015. The State Never Did, and Now It Won’t Have to.
Trump’s EPA rescinded a rule that would have forced Texas to close a loophole exploited by industrial polluters in 97 percent of illegal emission events.
May, 22, 2015, was a red-letter day for Hilton Kelley. The 58-year-old environmental justice activist was on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., 1,300 miles from ...Read More
As the agency courts tankers that can carry 2.2 million barrels of crude each, activists worry that the plan could spoil the habitats of the aquatic species that thrive here.
In the middle of the Texas Gulf Coast, among a constellation of barrier islands where thousands of Texans come to fish, boat and play each year, lies one of the...Read More
About a quarter of Texas counties have two or fewer primary care doctors and pharmacists. What happens if they refuse service?
Matthew Glass said the first red flag was when the pharmacist called across the room, loud enough for other customers to hear, “What’s the Truvada for?” T...Read More
As the Legislature considers greenlighting hemp production, a litany of farmers, rural economic development advocates and even conservative Republicans are singing its praises.
Haskell, a town of 3,200 an hour north of Abilene, is in high cotton. It has not one, but two grocery stores. Most of the storefronts in the downtown square are...Read More
As industrial chicken farming expands to East Texas, local residents say they’ve been bombarded with the waste of hundreds of thousands of birds, an “overpowering” stench and heavy truck traffic.
It took a decade for Ronnie Blundell to find the perfect plot of land where he could build his dream home in rural Upshur County, a community of 40,000 about 14...Read More
An inspector at a special deregulated hog plant told the Observer that the USDA’s new pork slaughter proposal that eliminates maximum line speeds is a “recipe for disaster.”
On March 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top food safety official delivered good news to the pork industry. The official was Mindy Brashears, a forme...Read More
The all-Republican court has removed criminal penalties for violating a portion of the state Open Meetings Act.
The windows of Texas government have been tinted even darker thanks to a landmark ruling Wednesday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The nine-member panel...Read More
For decades, the energy company has leased to the state the property on which Fairfield Lake State Park sits. But there’s no guarantee the new buyer will do the same.
For decades, Fairfield Lake State Park has been a fixture of family life for Brenda Pate. She’s spent countless hours at the park, an expanse of timber, trail...Read More