Hard to believe we have reached the end of August! Here are some of the ag law stories in the news this week.
* Waters of the United States: Where Are We Now? I recently wrote an article for Progressive Cattleman Magazine discussing where things currently stand with the “Waters of the United States” controversy involving the EPA’s new rule defining the scope of the federal Clean Water Act. To read the article, click here. Just yesterday, a North Dakota federal judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the new rule from going into effect today as scheduled, instead allowing the court time to review the record and evaluate the plaintiffs challenge to the rule. Review order here.
* Old Wells Wreaking Havoc in Pecos County. Old oil wells that were abandoned or given to landowners as water wells are causing major problems in Pecos County. The wells are leaking brackish water from a deep underground aquifer onto the surface, causing concern over potential contamination of freshwater aquifers. The Railroad Commission has a fund to help cover the costs of plugging abandoned wells, but because these wells were technically given to the landowners, those funds are not available for use. The landowners claim the costs of plugging are simply too high for them to pay. [Read article here.]
* Motion to Dismiss Will Be Heard Today in Syngenta Corn Litigation. A Kansas federal judge will hear arguments on Syngenta’s motion to dismiss lawsuits filed against it by numerous parties related to China’s rejection of US corn shipments due to certain Syngenta GMO seeds being included, but not yet approved by Chinese authorities. Importantly, this hearing involves the multi district litigation consolidated cases, not any cases that have been remanded back (or never removed from) state court. For an overview of the plaintiffs’ claims, click here. A motion to dismiss challenges the legal sufficiency of a claim, meaning a court will basically ask “if all of the facts are as the plaintiffs have alleged, would they have a sufficient legal claim under the law. If so, the motion to dismiss will be denied and the cases will proceed. If not, the motion to dismiss will be granted and the case dismissed. Here is a good article on the status of the case.
* Professor Beyer Publishes 2015 Texas Legislative Estate Planning Update. Famous Texas Tech law professor Gerry Beyer recently published an article outlining all changes made to estate planning law made by this year’s Texas Legislature. Although many of the changes are minor, it is still a great article especially for attorneys, trustees, and others frequently involved in estate planning to take a look at and keep on file. [View article here.]