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Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for August 8, 2017

Coal mining in South Texas
Credit: San Antonio Express-News

Investigative stories across Texas about coal-plant pollution, fired police officers and bungled contracts that cost taxpayers millions.

In Trump era, coal plant south of San Antonio off chopping block | San Antonio Express-News

From the air, the San Miguel coal mining operation 50 miles south of San Antonio looks like a scene from the industrial revolution. One of the five worst polluters in Texas, it produces lignite, the lowest grade of coal.

“Lignite is just garbage fuel; it’s dirty, it produces a lot of nasty metals, it has higher CO2 output per megawatt hour because its not a very good fuel,” said Chrissy Mann, a senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

But the San Miguel plant might be saved from extinction under the Trump administration. Story by Rye Druzin

Fired/Rehired | The Washington Post

Police chiefs are often forced to put officers fired for misconduct back on the streets. Among them: San Antonio Police Officer Matthew Belver, who told a handcuffed prisoner that he was going to “beat his ass.” Story by Kimbriell Kelly, Wesley Lowery and Steven Rich

‘PUSH! PUSH!’ How a bungled private contract cost Texans $130 million | Austin American-Statesman

Details of how Xerox furiously rubber-stamped requests for taxpayer-funded dental work are now being revealed in a huge and expanding lawsuit being heard in Travis County state district court.

The dispute has laid bare embarrassing details of how loosely state bureaucrats oversaw one of Texas’ largest contracts. Court documents show state workers knew of the company’s activities, yet little was done about it as tens of millions of dollars flowed out the door. Story by Eric Dexheimer

Border Patrol surge could lead to loose hiring standards and more corruption | Last Week Tonight

“Donald Trump’s plan to hire more Border Patrol agents could lead to more corruption and misconduct. If only their recruitment ads were designed to attract the most suitable applicants.” Cameo appearance by the Texas Tribune’s Jay Root. Story by John Oliver

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