June 13, 2014 Weekly Round Up

Last night I spoke in Sherman, Texas on mineral rights, eminent domain, and pipeline easement negotiations.  Grayson County Extension agent Chuck Jones planned this seminar after receiving numerous questions from landowners in the area related to these topics.  There was a great turnout and I enjoyed the chance to visit with everyone!

Here are a few stories ag law stories in the news this week.

* Oil and gas industry highlights alternatives to freshwater use in fracking process.  At the Texas Oil and Gas Water Conservation and Recycling Symposium, several oil and gas companies reported on their efforts to increase the use of recycled water and decrease the dependence on freshwater in the fracking process.  Fasken Oil and Ranch reported that they expect that by the end of June they will no longer use freshwater in their drilling and production operations, saving 2.3 million gallons of freshwater.  Presenters also reported a recycling capacity of 1.5 barrels of water per day to be re-used in oil and gas operations.  [Read press release here.]

* EPA extends comment period for proposed “waters of the United States rule.”  The EPA has extended the comment period for its proposed rule that would define “waters of the United States” until October 20, 2014.  Comments on the interpretive rule governing agricultural exemptions was extended to July 7.  This extension comes after a contingent of 70 agricultural groups sent a letter seeking additional time.  [Read article here.]

* DOT exempts livestock transporters from hours-of-service requirement.  The Department of Transportation has granted a one-year exemption from the federal hours-of-service rule to those drivers transporting livestock.  The hours-of-service rule requires all commercial vehicle operators to take 30-minute rest breaks for each 8 hours of service.  Many in the cattle industry express concern over the health and safety of livestock under these rules, particularly in the hot summer months.  In 2013, the DOT granted a 3-month exemption during the summer with no reported adverse safety results.  [Read press release here and article here.]

* Jumping mouse listed as newest endangered species.  A mouse found in New Mexico, southern Colorado, and eastern Arizona has been listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.  This listing will create additional controversy between the federal government–which states that the listing will likely require them to put up fences or take other action to protect the mouse’s water source and habitat, and area ranchers who claim that if the federal government cuts off access to water they will have to abandon grazing allotments.  [Read article here.]

* Not too early to start retirement planning.  Progressive Cattleman ran a great article on the importance of financial and retirement planning for farmers and ranchers.  The author reports that 41% of ranchers do not have a will and that 39% have no retirement savings.  The article features advice from a variety of knowledgeable folks including a banker, a financial advisor, and an extension agent.  [Read article here.]

Photo by Britt Fisk, Clayton, NM

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