Happy July to everyone! Yesterday, I participated in the Texas Range Webinar Series and gave a presentation on water law. We had a great turn out for the webinar and fantastic questions! To those of you joining us from the webinar, welcome!
The month kicked off with a bang as far as ag law in the news is concerned. Here are some of the key stories making news this week.
* TCEQ Files Petition for TX Supreme Court Review in Surface Water Case. The TCEQ is seeking review of the appellate court decision in favor of the Texas Farm Bureau and various farmers in Texas Farm Bureau v. TCEQ. As you recall from this prior blog, this case involves a priority call made by TCEQ on the Brazos River in 2012. TCEQ cut off over 800 junior water users, but exempted certain types of users–municipalities and power generators–from the curtailment order. The Texas Farm Bureau sued, arguing that this order violated the doctrine of prior appropriation. Both the trial court and court of appeals sided with the farmer. We will see if the Texas Supreme Court will want to weigh in. [View Petition here.]
* Numerous States File Suits Over EPA Waters of the United States Rule. Not surprisingly, the EPA’s final “waters of the United States” rule is facing legal challenge. So far, 16 states including Texas and New Mexico, have filed suit against the EPA, claiming that the final rule is illegal as it expands federal jurisdiction beyond that authorized in the Clean Water Act. To read more about the lawsuits, click here, here, and here.
* US Supreme Court Will Hear Mississippi v. Tennessee. On Monday, the United States Supreme Court granted a petition to hear a lawsuit brought by Mississippi against neighboring Tennessee. The lawsuit–seeking over $600 million in damages–involves claims by Mississippi that Tennessee is stealing its groundwater by large commercial water well fields located near the states’ border. [Read article here.]
* Federal Judge Blocks Federal Fracking Rule. BLM regulations aimed at governing fracking on federal land have been temporarily suspended by a Wyoming federal judge. The regulations, which are being challenged in court by four states and two industry groups, were set to go into effect last Wednesday. The judge’s order, however, prevented the BLM from implementing the new rules, at least for now. [Read article here.]
* Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Ballot Language Challenge to Right to Farm Constitutional Amendment. As you may recall from this prior blog post, Missouri voters passed a state constitutional amendment last November that guaranteed farmers and ranchers the right to engage in farming and ranching practices. Opponents of the amendment filed suit, claiming that the ballot language was misleading to voters and the amendment should be held invalid. The Missouri Supreme Court rejected this argument, finding the language “sufficient and fair” and finding there to be “no election regularity.” [Read full opinion here.]
* Registration Now Open for American Agricultural Law Association Annual Conference. This year’s American Agricultural Law Association Conference will be held in Charleston, South Carolina, October 23-25, 2015. I have been an AALA member for more years than I’d like to count now, and this conference is absolutely outstanding every year. If you are an attorney or law student interested in agricultural law, you want to attend. Registration is now open and available here. If you have any questions about AALA or the conference, please feel free to contact me!