October 11, 2013 Weekly Round Up

**This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.**

Thank you all for your comments and emails on the Surface Water Issues blog that was posted earlier this week.  These are major issues that are important not only to agriculture in Texas, but to all people nationwide.

To wrap up the week, here is a list of a few ag law stories making news this week.  Have a great weekend!


(First)  A group of animal rights activists, including PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, journalists and professors have filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah challenging the  state’s “agricultural operation interference law.”  The law, passed in 2012, prohibits a person from knowingly or intentionally recording an image or sound from an agricultural operation by leaving a recording device on the operation without the consent of the owner.  Further, the law prohibits a person from gaining access to an agricultural operation under false pretenses, from seeking employment in order to record the operation with knowledge that the owner prohibits this type of recording, and from recording an image or sound while criminally trespassing.  [Read law here.]

Specifically, the lawsuit claims that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as well as the Supremacy Clause.  The plaintiffs claim that the law prohibits only a certain type of speech–that negative towards the agricultural industry–while allowing content positive to the industry.  Thus, the Plaintiffs believe that the law is overly broad, impermissibly provides content and position-based restriction on speech, violates due process and equal protection, and conflicts with the federal Whistleblower Act.  [Read Complaint here.]


(Second) In the last couple of weeks, three separate transmission line applications have been filed with the PUC.  These lines will run through Collin, LaSalle, McMullen, and El Paso counties.  Intervention deadlines will be coming up soon for each project.  Read Landowner Alert here.

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(Third)  An article in Time Magazine discusses the concerns over water being used for fracking wells in South Texas.  Importantly, the article outlines other options available to oil companies including recycling or using brackish groundwater, rather than potable fresh groundwater, in fracking operations.  Some states, such as Colorado, require that water removed at the conclusion of the fracking process must be recycled.  [Read article here.]


(Fourth)  State Impact Texas published an update this week on the status of the Keystone XL pipeline which, when completed, will send tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.  The southern portion of the pipeline (running from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast) is nearly complete, but some lawsuits over the use of eminent domain to obtain easements for the pipeline continue.  In Nebraska, multiple lawsuits and disputes are ongoing related to obtaining the land required to build the pipeline.  [Read article here.]


(Fifth) A severe blizzard struck South Dakota this week, killing tens of thousands of cattle.  [Read newspaper article here and a great blog from the child of a South Dakota rancher here.]


 Lastly, for the Supreme Court junkies out there, the New York Magazine ran an interesting article this week of a conversation that a reporter had with United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  [Read article here.]

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