More than a year after the pandemic shut down dozens of Austin famous events like SXSW, ACL and countless live music events, a renewed wave of cancelations are sweeping through the city faster than you can say "Delta variant."
The COVID-19 situation in the Austin-Travis County area is looking grim with the emergence of the Delta variant—the seven-day moving average for new cases is 385 and ICUs are in dire straits with only seven available beds for the entire 2.3 million person metro as of yesterday.
More than five local events have already hit the chopping block, here's what they were.
Glow Paddle ATX
Glow Paddle ATX, a night paddle boarding event on Lady Bird Lake benefiting the Flatwater Foundation, has been canceled by organizers, citing concerns over health and safety. The event was originally scheduled for Aug. 20.
Widespread Panic at ACL Live
IMPORTANT UPDATE: This weekend’s @WidespreadPanic shows are being rescheduled to Friday, October 8 - Sunday, October 10, 2021. See below for details or visit https://t.co/MXx73bmFiU. pic.twitter.com/s6aWLh2Who— ACL Live (@acllive) August 13, 2021
Just hours before Widespread Panic was supposed to take the ACL Live stage on Friday, all the band's shows for the weekend were postponed due to singer John Bell testing positive for COVID-19. However, the shows have already been rescheduled to the weekend of Oct. 8.
Multiple shows at 3TEN ACL Live
CANCELLATION UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, @aLiveOneMusic tonight, 8/13/21 and @thelectricjoint tomorrow, 8/14/21 at @3TENaustin have both been cancelled. Tickets will be automatically refunded through point of purchase. pic.twitter.com/KV2QfVpIwm— 3TEN ACL Live (@3TENaustin) August 13, 2021
This weekend's performances at 3TEN ACL Live are taking a backseat. The performance by A Live One and Kalu & The Electric Joint have not announced any future plans to perform at 3TEN as tickets are being refunded.
And another week down the line, Austin's resident "Empress of Soul" is rescheduling her performance, which was scheduled for Aug. 21, with a new date to be announced. Jones didn't hold back on the sass when she mentioned the closure, flashing a cheeky message directed at Gov. Greg Abbott on Instagram.
Austin Pride Parade
Organizers of the 4th Street parade, which had been scheduled for Saturday, said the decision to postpone the celebration was made with an "unimaginably heavy heart." Pride was also canceled in 2020, making this the second year residents will have to do without. Pride usually brings thousands together in Downtown Austin and organizers asked locals to mask up in the interim.
The long-awaited opening festivities for Waterloo Park, located along East 15th, Red River, East 12th and Trinity Streets, were postponed on Thursday after being announced in May. Though the park will still open to the public today at 10 a.m., festivities scheduled for both September and opening day are now up in the air.
After opening its doors in July for the first time since the pandemic began, Hideout Theatre closed yet again when Austin reentered Stage 5 after just a few shows. The improv comedy theater and cafe said it will reopen as soon as it can.
Blues on the Green
After a momentous return to Zilker Park for a nostalgic two shows before they were called off in response to COVID cases surging. The free shows will be rescheduled but the date is still indeterminate as organizers asked Austinites to get vaccinated in the meantime, "so we can again enjoy free live music in Zilker Park."
It looks like this could be just the beginning for a slew of cancellations to come.
The Austin woman suspected of killing star cyclist visiting from out of town, Moriah "Mo" Wilson, has now been captured after evading arrest for more than a month.
Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, an Austin yoga instructor, is believed by officials to be the killer of Wilson, who was found with gunshot wounds in a friend's house on May 11. The murder is being investigated as a crime of passion after Wilson met up with Armstrong's ex-boyfriend.
According to the U.S. Marshals, Armstrong was located at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Officials said she may have been using her sister's name after fleeing Austin on May 14, the day after police questioned her. She was last identified at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 18.
Federal authorities say they plan on returning Armstrong to the U.S., where she'll face charges of murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Here's a timeline of events since the night of Wilson's murder.
- The night of her death, Wilson met with Armstrong’s ex-boyfriend Colin Strickland, a fellow pro cyclist. According to an affidavit, the pair went swimming, then to dinner, before he dropped Wilson off at her friend's home where she was staying in East Austin at around 8:30 p.m.
- While Wilson and Stickland had previously had a romantic relationship, Stickland said the two were friends. The affidavit says Strickland lied to Armstrong about his whereabouts that evening.
- Video footage shows Armstrong’s Jeep pulled up nearby the home within a minute of Wilson arriving home.
- At around 10 p.m., Wilson's friend called Austin police after finding her in a pool of blood. Wilson had been staying with the friend ahead of the upcoming bike race in nearby Hico, Texas.
- Armstrong was brought in for questioning the day after the murder and released after appearing “very still and guarded” when confronted with video evidence.
- The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force said her black Jeep Cherokee was sold to a South Austin CarMax dealership on May 13 for $12,200.
- She leaves from the Austin airport on May 14.
- Shell casings found on the scene matched a gun belonging to Armstrong.
- Austin police obtained an arrest warrant for Armstrong on May 17.
- She took a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to San Jose, Costa Rica on May 18 using a fraudulent passport, according to the Marshals.
- On May 25, another warrant was obtained for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
- On June 29, she was captured by the U.S. Marshals
On Thursday, the Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in regulating greenhouse gases, a move that comes at a time when experts have warned about the need to take action on climate change.
The ruling was brought after a challenge to a lower court opinion brought by Texas and more than a dozen other states.
Vaibhav Bahadur, an associate professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin called the SCOTUS decision significant, noting that Texas is the biggest energy producer in the U.S., and produces more energy than the United Kingdom.
“Power generation accounts for a significant fraction of U.S. carbon emissions, and the EPA loses its ability to control what's happening in about half of that sector,” Bahadur said. “And it's not just the U.S., I think people and environmentalists on pretty much anywhere on the planet will be disappointed because this is going in the wrong direction. We know we want to be decarbonizing, and this is essentially putting a roadblock on progress toward decarbonization.”
So, we’re going to need some insurance, Bahadur says. He’s carrying out work that’ll act as such through his research on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), the process of sucking carbon from the air and burying it.
For the past five years, he’s been working on a novel approach to storing carbon. It involves supercharging the formation of carbon dioxide-based crystal structures and storing billions of tons of carbon under the ocean floor.
“If all of this is successful, then we will have another option for safely and responsibly storing carbon at the bottom of the seabed for essentially eternity,” Bahadur said.
Still, Bahadur talked about a different approach to responsibly cutting down emissions in the next decade, and doing so in a meaningful and substantial way, then the environment will eventually heal itself and we might not need CCS.
But that’s not the path we’re headed down.
“We're already starting to see temperature records being shattered this year, and we're still to hit peak summer,” Bahadur said. “All of this just makes me think that we need CCS to a larger extent, and possibly sooner than what a lot of scientists anticipate, especially if we can't keep our emissions in check.”
Gary Rochelle, a professor in the department of chemical engineering at UT, thinks CCS was ready to be deployed in 2010 and those 12 years have made a difference.
“But now we've emitted all that CO2,” Rochelle said. “And unfortunately, unlike other pollutants, when you emit CO2, it's there. It's not going away.”
Gary Rochelle and Vaibhav Bahadur are both researching technology to address carbon emissions. (UT)
Still, the delay is good in that now researchers like him have had time to learn about and improve the technology, allowing for fewer problems once it's deployed.
In December, UT announced a licensing agreement with advanced technology company Honeywell. The technology from that is targeted at power, steel, cement and other industrial plants to lower emissions.
Rochelle has been working on the technology since 2000 as part of an international collaborative effort. When he talked to Austonia on Thursday, he had just had calls with collaborators in Germany and Norway. Currently, he’s working with some Ph.D. students on addressing a chemical reaction that can happen with the technology known as oxidation that could lead to ammonia emissions and cause problems for a large-scale commercial unit.
Rochelle says he’s driven to this work because he wants to make a contribution.
“We're trying to develop this technology so that we can make a difference,” Rochelle said. “It's a nice problem to work on. The students are motivated and those are the primary things which drive us.”
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated the high court’s decision which acted as a blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce emissions.
“Today’s landmark victory against an out-of-control administration is also a big win for Americans who worry about skyrocketing energy costs due to expensive federal regulations that threaten our energy industry,” Abbott said. “President Biden cannot keep attacking the energy industry and the hardworking men and women who power our nation.”
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