How to Help the Texas Coast Using GIS

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Millions of people have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, and many more are looking for some way to help. Information is needed on the effects of the damage so that officials can move forward with coordinating recovery efforts. Organizations such as GISCorps, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, and Tomnod are among the groups trying to fill in the gaps.

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National Environmental Policy Act – NEPA Checklist

NATIONALENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT-NEPA-NEPA, or the National Environmental Policy Act, has been an essential part of the EPA since it was signed into law in 1970. As one of the first major environmental laws created in the United States, NEPA has been described as the environmental equivalent of the “Magna Carta” . The main goal of NEPA is to use all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony. In order to achieve this goal, NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental and social factors of their proposed actions, including making decisions on permit applications, adopting federal land management plans, and constructing highways or publicly-owned facilities. In addition, NEPA utilizes Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements to investigate the probability of impacts from alternative courses of action. Continue reading

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Texas Railroad Commission Undergoes Review

SunsetChart

Texas Sunset Commission www.sunset.texas.gov

Earlier this year, for the third time since 2010, the Sunset Advisory Commission of the 85th Texas Legislature has completed its review of the Texas Railroad Commission. It concluded that no major structural changes were necessary but emphasized improvements to the RRC’s oil and gas enforcement program instead. Continue reading

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Banks Geomapping Solutions is Now Part of Banks Environmental Data

To better serve our customers, we have combined Banks Geomapping Solutions with the Environmental Data division so many of you already know and love. With this merge, we are excited to announce that Banks Environmental Data is now offering a full suite of custom GIS products to meet your project needs.Banks March Blog

What does this merge mean? Now we are a one-stop shop for not only all of your environmental data needs, but custom geomapping projects as well. We can design, print and ship custom site and project maps for any number of uses including project planning, presentations, and wall displays for home or office. We are able to print up to 42 sq. in and mount on a variety of materials. In addition to custom hardcopy maps, we can also provide digital data in shapefile or Google KMZ format so you can easily view or analyze the data in ArcGIS or Google Earth.

We are also excited to now offer SWD permit maps for the Texas Permian Basin, a great resource for anyone interested in oil and gas activity in that region. Each of these maps tracks all pending permit applications filed with the Railroad Commission, as well as permitted saltwater disposal well locations and P-18 water/skim volumes. These high quality, semi-gloss wall maps are 42” x 48” so you can effortlessly discern facility locations, and the data is updated quarterly so you can always stay in the know. Our most current update published first week of April. Digital data packages are also available upon request.

Hannah Weaver
Division Director
Banks Environmental Data
hweaver@banksinfo.com

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Innovations in Geography – Understanding Communities through GIS

During the 2016 Texas GIS Forum hosted by TNRIS, Dr. Nazgol Bagheri made history as the first female keynote.  Dr. Bagheri is a trained architect and urban planner currently serving as an Assistant Professor in Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In addition to being the first woman keynote, Dr. Bagheri is an innovative critical feminist geography scholar who is revolutionizing the field of GIS. In contrast to many of the sterile, data driven practices used in modern GIS, Dr. Bagheri’s work highlights how GIS can offer an alternative visualization of space. She combines geography and gender theories together in order to visualize gender relations and their effect on everyday geographic patterns. Continue reading

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Happy Thanksgiving from Banks Environmental Data

happy-thanksgivingIn honor of a holiday best known for turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes we decided to bring a bit of history to the table.

The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 – almost four centuries ago. During this time, explorers were actively discovering the Americas and cartographers were busy hand drawing maps from the explorer’s notes. These maps had some serious flaws. For example, they showed California as an island floating in the Pacific and depicted the great lakes as a large river. Despite these and other incorrect assumptions, the early maps were surprisingly detailed and helped facilitate further European settlement.

We’ve collected a few maps of Colonial America from the Library of Congress and provided them below. Now is a good time to pause and take a moment to be thankful for the invention of GPS. Enjoy!

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What is Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS)

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According to EPA, Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS) is the national database used to store information on releases of oil and hazardous substances. Before the establishment of the ERNS program, there was no centralized source of information capable of displaying all oil and hazardous substance releases that were being reported to the various offices of the federal government. ERNS provides a comprehensive, readily available method to collect reports and assess potential hazards across multiple federal agencies.

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The Global Positioning System (GPS)

AGPS mappings most of us are aware by now, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is the omnipresent force that allows our smartphones and other devices to know where we are located on the globe. It is used in navigation, ecology, advertising, city planning, the military, and a variety of other industries. GPS has become such a presence in our lives that, like oxygen, we hardly ever think about how it works.

GPS is composed of three main parts: the satellites in space, control stations on the ground, and the people using GPS equipped devices. The satellites whirl overhead sending out a constant signal to the earth that tells our devices where each satellite is currently located. If one of these satellites moves out of orbit or needs maintenance of any kind, the control station on the ground can make the necessary adjustments. Finally, our phones and other types of GPS receivers interpret the satellite signals and we are given our location in real time.

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Locating Water Wells from Driller’s Reports

Water Wells from Driller ReportsWhenever a water well is constructed, the driller is typically required to report details about the well on a driller’s log, or driller’s report. These logs include everything from date and depth drilled to location and lithology. Once the log is completed, it is submitted to the state environmental agency for processing. Sometimes state agencies will map these records. Otherwise it’s up to us to sleuth them out! After all, a well log is useless if you don’t know where the well is located. Continue reading

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Historical Maps and Aerials: Looking to the Past to Plan for the Future

With the innovations in satellite and drone technology in recent years, procuring highly detailed aerials and topographic maps of a site is becoming easier than ever. Current, high-quality maps and imagery can be used to help farmers identify trouble spots on their land or property developers plan a new neighborhood. But what about all of the historical resources? In the United States, there are aerial photographs available for many areas as early as the 1920s. Topographic maps have a history as old as the country itself. Continue reading

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Wind energy competes for the spotlight

Texas Panhandle wind farm

Happy 2016! For those of us in the environmental industry, 2016 has already been a year full of headlines. Some of the more positive headlines however, happened just before the end of 2015. In late December, Texas set a new energy record when it produced 40% of its total electricity by wind for 17 full hours. Take a moment to let that sink in. For 17 straight hours Texas was producing just under HALF of its electricity via wind turbines. Continue reading

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Making a Bold Statement with a Small Bird: How the Sage Grouse is Emblematic of Tensions over Government Intervention

The sage grouse is a bird that made national headlines this week because of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to keep this animal off of the federal endangered species list. This verdict comes out of multiple years of tension between the federal government, environmentalists, and energy companies in contemplating how to best protect both the bird and financial interests. Continue reading

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) fundamentals

Much of our work at Banks involves GIS software. We thought we’d give you some background on these tools.

GIS, which stands for geographic/geospatial information systems, is a software tool used for analyzing the spatial components of any given data set. One of the most widely used tools is ArcGIS software, but there are also many free GIS systems available to people of all experience levels as well as plentiful online resources to learn about the various softwares. Most of the tutorials are free. Continue reading

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El Niño to bring rain to California

Credit: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Credit: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

El Niño, also known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation, is a climatic condition where warm waters in the pacific alter weather patterns across the globe. In the United States, this typically results in dryer than average winters for the northern states and wetter than average winters for the southern states down to Mexico. These conditions usually emerge about once every five years.
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Happy Labor Day!

history of labor day united states
Everyone loves a long weekend in late summer. But how did this holiday and treasured American tradition come into being?

According to the Department of Labor,

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

Read more about the history of Labor Day here.

Enjoy the holiday!

The Banks Team

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