March 20, 2015 Weekly Round Up

Spring is in the air!  Hope you are all enjoying some warmer temperatures, and hopefully, some rain!  Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week.

*Briscoe County Will Not Become Part of High Plains Water District.  Despite a TCEQ recommendation that the High Plains Water District annex Briscoe County under its jurisdiction, the District Board voted unanimously not to do so last week.  Numerous Briscoe County residents spoke against the annexation, claiming they were perfectly happy being unregulated by a groundwater conservation district. [Read article here.]

*EPA Regrets Lack of Clarity, Hopes Revised “WOTUS” Rule Will Help.  Last week, EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, spoke at the National Farmers Union Convention and, not surprisingly, discussed the proposed EPA regulation that would define “waters of the United States.”  For more information on this issue, read this prior blog.  McCarthy admitted that her agency and the proposed rule were not clear enough in the beginning, causing much concern among opponents.  She stated that she hopes the rule as is being revised by the EPA after considering public comment will be more clear and alleviate concerns.  Time will tell, as the rule should be published sometime this Spring.  [Read article here.]

*  Wyoming Passes Anti-Trespassing Law.  Last week, Wyoming Governor, Matt Mead, signed a bill “designed to prevent trespassing on private property to obtain resource data.  Opponents claim this is another “ag gag” bill that seeks to violate their free speech rights and to prevent reporting of animal abuse.  Importantly, this bill is written in a much more limited fashion than many of the “ag gag” bills in other states.  Specifically, the Wyoming law applies to all private property, not just agricultural operations, and makes it illegal for any person to trespass on the property in order to collect resource data.  [Read bill text here.]

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*  Appeal Filed in California Egg Production Battle.  Last October, you may recall from this blog that a federal judge in California dismissed a lawsuit brought by six states (Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, and Iowa), challenging the legality of a California law allowing only eggs produced in compliance with certain practices (including no use of battery cages) to be sold in the state.  The court dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the states lacked standing to bring the suit.  This week, the plaintiffs appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  [Review brief here.]

*  USA Today Publishes Article on TX Railroad Commission Chairwoman, Christi Craddick.  Earlier this month, Christi Craddick received national attention after a feature article discussing her life and position with the Texas Railroad Commission ran in USA Today.  The article discusses Craddick’s background, her role at the commission, and current controversies including the Denton fracking ban.  [Read article here.]

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