Does the Clean Water Act Apply to Groundwater?

If a person discharges a pollutant from a point source into groundwater, and that pollutant then reaches a “Water of the United States” as defined under the Clean Water Act, is a discharge permit required?  Two recent court cases have reached different results on this issue and now the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on this question. Background The Clean Water Act Section 402 requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the discharge of “pollutants” from “point sources” into “navigable waters.”  Each of… Read More →

March 16, 2018 Weekly Round Up

It’s been a busy week for me and for agricultural law!  On Wednesday I spoke in Albany, Texas at a program hosted by the Leon Bosque RC&D and on Thursday evening I was in Brownwood to speak at the Brown County Ag Day.  Welcome to those of you joining from those events. Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week. * FMCSA Extends Agricultural Exemption to New Hauling Regulations Another 90 Days.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it will… Read More →

Unanimous US Supreme Court: United States Can Participate as Party in Texas v. New Mexico

The United States will be allowed to participate as a party in the Texas v. New Mexico lawsuit before the United Stated Supreme Court, wrote Justice Gorsuch last week on behalf of a unanimous bench. Background We’ve been following Texas v. New Mexico for years.  To read a more detailed explanation of the merits of the lawsuit, click here. There are multiple agreements at issue in this litigation. First, what we will refer to as “the Treaty.”  In 1906, the United States entered into a treaty with Mexico, requiring the… Read More →

March 9, 2018 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday!  This week I had the chance to visit with the Dallas Ag Club for their monthly meeting on Monday.  On Tuesday, I moderated an immigration law panel at the High Plains Dairy Conference.  Welcome to those of you joining from those events! Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week. *US Supreme Court Allows US to Intervene in Texas v. New Mexico lawsuit. I’ll have a full blog post on this decision Monday, but those of you who are interested can… Read More →

Do Landowners Have Right to Protest Proposed Water Project?

An interesting legal question has arisen in Bastrop County recently that could have impacts on groundwater law and landowner rights across Texas. Background In 2013, Recharge Water (formerly End Op) applied for a permit from the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (GCD) to withdraw 56,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Bastrop and Lee Counties.  The company planned to export the water for sale in Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties, although no specific buyer had been identified. In response, water… Read More →

March 2, 2018 Weekly Round Up

Phew!  It has been a heck of a week!  On Monday, I was in Cat Spring for our Ranchers Leasing Workshop.  We had a great turnout of 95 folks!  On Tuesday, I was in Waco speaking to the Master Marketer course.  Wednesday brought me back to the Panhandle to speak at the 4th Annual Biennial Water Conservation Symposium.  Welcome to all of you joining from these events. *”FARM” Act introduced in US Senate would exempt agriculture from air emissions reporting.  The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, a… Read More →

Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Dannon’s “Natural” Label

If yogurt is made from milk that came from cows who ate feed that included genetically modified corn, can it be labeled as “natural?”  This was the question recently before a New York federal court. Background Polly Podpeskar filed a putative class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and other consumers who were mislead by Dannon’s “natural” label on certain yogurt varieties.  She claimed that a reasonable consumer would not expect a “natural” product to be made from milk from cows who had been fed genetically modified corn or… Read More →

February 23, 2018 Weekly Round Up

Hello!  I’ve spent most of the week in my office dealing with the aftermath of a computer crash and realization that I did not have a good back-up system.  Lessons learned the hard way!  Today, I’m making my way back home to New Mexico to speak at the Southern Quay and Central Curry Soil and Water Conservation District Banquet.  Welcome to those of you joining from that event. Here are some ag law stories in the news this week. * New lawsuit filed over records from Texas v. New… Read More →

Words Matter When Drafting a Will: A Cautionary Tale

A recent decision from the Ft. Worth Court of Appeals, In the Estate of Larry Ronald Neal, Deceased, offers a good reminder about how important is to carefully word a will to ensure that one’s intent is carried out after death. Background Larry Neal executed a will in 2009 naming his brother, Gary, as executor of his estate and making various bequeaths of his assets.  The will included the following provisions: Article II  “I do give and bequeath to my niece, Valorie Jean (Neal) White, all of my personal effects and all… Read More →

February 16, 2018 Weekly Round Up

Hello from Weatherford, Texas!  Last night, I spoke at an Extension meeting in Denton County and today I’ll be speaking at the Country Land Stewardship Conference here in Weatherford.  Welcome to those of you joining us from these events. Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week. *Budget bill allows seed cotton to be a covered commodity under Farm Bill.   On February 9, Congress passed a budget that made seed cotton a covered commodity for the 2018 crop year under the current Farm Bill’s… Read More →