Another weekend has arrived! I hope you have all managed to stay warm during this first major winter snap of the season. Here are a few ag law stories making news this week.
* Article Profiles Karnes City Response to Oil Boom. The Texas Tribune ran an interesting article on how Karnes City, in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, is handling the impacts of the current oil boom. The article highlights the benefits that the oil field has brought to the town, including money for a new high school, a baseball park, and a new corner store. The article also highlights difficulties facing the town, including crumbling roads and a housing crunch. The article also discusses the boom and bust cycle and steps and investments being made by the city to prepare for the bust that will likely come. [Read article here.]
*Articles on Denton Fracking Ban. A National Geographic article discussed how with the increased number of fracking and production bans occurring across the country, we are seeing a corresponding increase in lawsuits related to such laws. [Read article here.] Texas is supporting that theory. In addition to the Texas Oil and Gas Association lawsuit challenging the legality of the ban filed immediately, the General Land Office has filed suit against he city as well. [Read articles here and here.] Meanwhile, the Texas Railroad Commission will continue to issue drilling and production permits within the Denton city limits, despite the local ban on fracking. Chairwoman Christi Craddick stated that the RRC may override the local ban because it has authority over drilling within the state. “It’s my job to give permits, not Denton’s,” said Craddick. [Read article here.] Lastly, the Texas Tribune published an interesting article discussing the issues that will come before the court related to the fracking ban, including the important issue of the difference between fracking (prohibited) and drilling (not prohibited). [Read article here.]
*New Mexico Supreme Court Refuses to Step into Water Permit Application. The New Mexico Supreme Court denied a petition filed by two southern New Mexico ranchers seeking the Court to order the State Engineer to deny a groundwater permit application filed by San Augustin Plains Ranch LLC. The application seeks the required permits in order to pump 54,000 acre feet of water per year from rural New Mexico and transport the water via pipeline to metropolitan areas, including Albuquerque. The Supreme Court’s denial of the ranchers’ petition to take action now will leave the application in the hands of the State Engineer. The State Engineer previously rejected an application by San Augustin Plains Ranch filed in 2007 as it lacked the details required in order to receive a permit. [Read article here.]
* WTO Rules in Favor of US in Dispute with India. The WTO found that India violated trade rules when it banned imports of US poultry, eggs, meat, and live hogs. India claimed the ban, passed in 2007, was necessary to prevent the spread of “bird flu,” despite there being no case in the US since 2004. The WTO ruled that this ban violated several rules, including the imposition of an import ban without adequate sufficient evidence. India has 60 days to appeal the decision. [Read article here.]
* Story Illustrates Importance of Drafting, Updating, and Double Checking Estate Plan. Parents wanted junior, who had worked on the farm his entire life, to inherit the land. They created a revocable trust that was designed to own the dairy operation, appointed junior as alternate trustee to mom and dad, to ensure a smooth transition. When dad died, the family learned that the dairy operation was never actually placed in the trust–it was still owned by mom and dad, so now mom was the other. Two city girl sisters learned that junior was being favored and convinced mom that the fair thing to do would be to divide ownership of the diary up three ways. Mom agreed, and now junior has two new landlords. This can happen when estate plans are not carefully reviewed to ensure all of the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. [Read article here.]
* Webinar on GMO Labeling Laws. On November 19, the National Agricultral Law Center will be hosting a webinar discussing GMO labeling laws for anyone interested in the topic. Click here for more information.