September and October Round Up (Part 2)

Today we continue our recap of important ag law stories that made the news in September and October.  If you missed Part 1 of this series, click here.

Court of appeals affirms dismissal of nuisance suit against oil and gas company.  Landowners who filed a nuisance suit against Marathon Oil for odors, fumes, and dust related to oil production near their home were defeated in the San Antonio Court of Appeals earlier this month.  The Court held that the plaintiffs failed to prove causation between Marathon’s oil and gas production and their complained of injuries.  [Read opinion here.]  Austin-based attorney John McFarland wrote a great blog post discussing the case here.

Texas deer breeders file suit over chronic wasting disease.  Texas deer breeders have filed suit in Travis County against the Texas Parks & Wildlife over rules enacted by the department related to chronic waste disease.  The plaintiffs allege that the regulations are an attempt to shut down the captive deer industry.  [Read article here.]  Thanks to blog reader Judy Ackerman for letting me know about this story.

Court requires intent for liability under federal Migratory Bird Act.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that in order to be liable for the death of a bird under the Migratory Bird Act, the defendant must have acted with intent.  This decision will make it more difficult for companies to be held liable under the Act.  Specifically, this decision could have major impacts on the wind industry, as wind turbines are frequently blamed for bird deaths.  Particularly interesting here is the fact that a circuit split exists as to whether proof of intent is required.  As of now, the 5th, 8th, and 9th Circuits have found that intent is, in fact, required.  Two other circuits, the 2nd and 10th, have reached the opposite conclusion, holding no such proof is necessary for liability.  Commonly, such circuit splits are reason for the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari and hear an appeal.  Time will tell if this is true for this case.   [Read article here and  here.]

Big Bend residents continue to protest pipeline.  The Guardian recently ran an article discussing one Texas ranchers and landowners opposition to the proposed pipeline project that would run from the Permian Basin to Mexico, through the Big Bend area.  The article discusses landowner concerns, the potential FERC jurisdiction, and the use of eminent domain to condemn easements for the project if landowners refuse to agree to sell the necessary easements. [Read article here.]

Ag/Timber number holders must renew permits by January 2016.  As many of you know, holders of agriculture or timber permits are exempt from sales tax on certain items under Texas law.  A change is coming that will require renewal of these permits.  Starting in January, all permit holders must have a current expiration date on their permit.  This requires all agriculture and timber permit holders to renew their permits to obtain a current permit with the required expiration date included.  All permit holders should be receiving letters in the mail with more information.  For more information from the Comptroller’s Office, click here.



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