• WATER SECURITYAlbuquerque Made Itself Drought-Proof. Then Its Dam Started Leaking.

    By Jake Bittle

    El Vado is an odd dam: It’s one of only four in the United States that uses a steel faceplate to hold back water, rather than a mass of rock or concrete. The dam, which is located on a tributary of the Rio Grande, has been collecting irrigation water for farmers for close to a century, but decades of studies have shown that water is seeping through the faceplate and undermining the dam’s foundations. Cities across the West rely on fragile water sources — and aging infrastructure.

  • DAMSIn an Era of Dam Removal, California Is Building More

    By Theo Whitcomb, High Country News

    Earlier this year, the federal government finalized $216 million dollars in funding for a controversial dam project south of the Klamath River, adding to the $1 billion in direct grants already pledged to the project known as Sites Reservoir. This would be California’s first major new reservoir in half a century. Proponents say a new reservoir off the Sacramento River is environmentally friendly.

  • DISASTER READINESSMore Than 100 Texas Counties Lack Plans to Curb Damage from Natural Disasters

    By Jess Huff and Elijah Nicholson-Messmer

    The plans, which are required by the federal government to access certain grants after a natural disaster, are laborious to assemble — especially for rural counties.

  • SURVEILLANCEPolice Are Using Drones More and Spending More for Them

    By Matthew Guariglia and Beryl Lipton

    Police in Minnesota are buying and flying more drones than ever before, according to an annual report recently released by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Minnesotan law enforcement flew their drones without a warrant 4,326 times in 2023, racking up a state-wide expense of over $1 million.

  • BORDER SECURITYAt Half a Mile a Week, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Border Wall Will Take Around 30 Years and $20 Billion to Build

    By Jasper Scherer

    Three years after Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas would take the extraordinary step of building a state-funded wall along the Mexico border, he has 34 miles of steel bollards to show for it. Texas’ border with Mexico is 1,254-mile long.

  • WATER SECURITYBreaching Snake River Dams Could Drop Reservoirs, Groundwater Levels by 100 Feet

    By Tim Clouser, The Center Square

    As the Biden administration attempts to gain support for breaching hydroelectric dams in Washington, state and federal agencies are preparing for a study on the potential implications. 

  • IMMIGRANTS & CRIMEIllegal Immigrant Murderers in Texas, 2013–2022

    By Alex Nowrasteh

    Crime committed by illegal immigrants is an important and contentious public policy issue, but it is notoriously difficult to measure and compare their criminal conviction rates with those of other groups such as legal immigrants and native‐born Americans. Most research, however, finds that all immigrants in the United States are less likely to commit crime or be incarcerated than native‐born Americans.

  • WATER SECURITYU.S. Supreme Court Blocks the Texas’s Rio Grande Water Deal with New Mexico

    By Alejandra Martinez and Berenice Garcia

    Water law experts say the Supreme Court’s recent decision will set a precedent for the federal government to intervene in water conflicts between states moving forward.

  • ELECTION INTEGRITYVoter Advocacy Groups Ask Feds to Step in After Texas Allowed Some Voters’ Ballots to Be Identified

    By Natalia Contreras

    The request comes as state and local officials undermined ballot secrecy in their bids for election transparency. After Texas lawmakers changed several laws to increase transparency, researchers demonstrated that the secret choices voters make in the voting booth can be identified using public, legally available records.

  • WATER SECURITY‘Time for a Reckoning.’ Kansas Farmers Brace for Water Cuts to Save Ogallala Aquifer.

    By Kevin Hardy and Allison Kite

    in this region of Kansas where water is everything, they’ll have to overcome entrenched attitudes and practices that led to decades of overpumping. After decades of local inaction, Kansas lawmakers are pushing for big changes in irrigation.

  • COASTAL CHALLENGESThe Homeowner Mutiny Leaving Florida Cities Defenseless Against Hurricanes

    By Jake Bittle

    The only protection the town of Hendrickson, Florida, has from the Gulf of Mexico’s increasingly erratic storms is a pristine beach that draws millions of tourists every year — but that beach is disappearing fast. A series of storms have eroded most of the sand that protects Redington Shores and the towns around it, leaving residents just one big wave away from water overtaking their homes. The federal government is refusing to restore eroded beaches in Pinellas County unless homeowners agree to one condition: public access.

  • DEEPFAKES & ELECTIONSColorado Law Will Require Disclosure of AI-generated Content in Political Ads

    By Joe Mueller, The Center Square

    A law going into effect in July in Colorado will place new regulations and penalties on using artificial intelligence to manipulate video or images and using them in political campaigns. The new law will require disclaimers on communications generated or substantially altered by AI which falsely depict what a candidate or elected official has said or done.

  • WATER SECURITYTexas Delegation Urges Congress to Withhold Aid to Mexico Over Water Treaty Dispute

    By Matthew Choi

    A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers are demanding appropriators withhold funds for the country until Mexico lives up to its end of a 1944 water treaty that requires it to send 1.75 million acre-feet to the U.S. every five years.

  • BORDER SECURITYAs Texas' Border Security Efforts Succeed, California is ‘New Epicenter' of Crisis

    By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

    With the success of Texas’ border security mission Operation Lone Star pushing human trafficking efforts by Mexican cartels further west, southern California is “the new epicenter” of illegal immigration, officials say. California has greatest number of Chinese nationals illegally entering U.S.

  • WATER SECURITYIn a First, California Cracks Down on Farms Guzzling Groundwater

    By Jake Bittle

    In much of the United States, groundwater extraction is unregulated and unlimited. This lack of regulation has allowed farmers nationwide to empty aquifers of trillions of gallons of water for irrigation and livestock. In many places, such as California’s Central Valley, the results have been devastating. California has just imposed a first-of-its-kind mandatory fee on water pumping by farmers in the Tulare Lake subbasin, one of the state’s largest farming areas.