Happy Friday! This week I was able to visit with the Camp County Cattleman’s Association via the internet at their monthly meeting about some Frequently Asked Ag Law Questions. I thank Spencer Perkins for the chance to visit with that group and welcome those new readers joining from that event! It has been a busy ag law week, with lots of Texas-specific stories in the news.
*Governor Abbott Signs “Local Fracking Ban Ban” Into Law. On Monday, I blogged about the bill on Governor Abbott’s desk that would prohibit local governments from passing many laws related to oil and gas production. This week, he signed this bill into law. The ban on local regulations goes into effect immediately. [Read articles here and here.] The drama is not over, however, as the City of Denton has announced it plans to continue enforcing its local ban on fracking within city limits, passed by voters last November. [Read article here.] A similar bill appears likely to pass in Oklahoma. [Read article here.]
* Should the Right to Hunt and Fish in Texas Be Guaranteed in the Constitution? That is a question that will be facing Texas voters on the ballot this November. The proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution will read “The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife. This section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain. This section does not affect the power of the legislature to authorize a municipality to regulate the discharge of a weapon in a populated area in the interest of public safety.” Supporters claim this language is necessary to prevent activist groups from seeking to pass laws prohibiting the use of certain hunting and fishing practices in the states. Opponents claim that amendments to the Constitution should not be taken lightly. [Read article here.]
* Texas Ranchers and Environmentalists Team Up to Fight Pipeline. We don’t often see ranchers and environmental groups on the same side of an issue, but that is exactly the case right now in the Big Bend area. Many residents are protesting a proposed 143-mile Trans Pecos pipeline that, if completed, would transport natural gas from West Texas to the Mexican border. While the pipeline company hopes to acquire the easements needed for the line through negotiation, many landowners have vowed to to fight the pipeline’s attempts to obtain easements, including the attempt to use eminent domain. A great article discussing this issue was published last week and can be found here.
* Q&A With Water Lawyer Mike Gershon. The Texas Tribune recently conducted a question and answer series with Austin-based water attorney, Mike Gershon. The interview focused on issues Mr. Gershon sees with his clients, potential legislative changes in Texas water law, and current water disputes occurring around the state. [Read article here.]
* US Country of Origin Labeling Loses Again at WTO. The US law requiring country of origin labeling “COOL” on meat sold in the United States has once again been held to violate WTO rules. The US appealed an earlier decision by the WTO that the regulations violated the rules and allowing Canada and Mexico to impose sanctions on the US if the practice was continued. If Canada and Mexico do put into place the retaliatory measures they have been authorized to use, it could impact more than just the meat industry, as Canada has published a list of intended target products that includes wine, chocolate, ketchup and cereal. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack is urging Congress to act to amend the rules before sanctions are imposed. [Read articles here and here.]