How is it already September? Not that I’m complaining about the cool, rainy weather we’ve been seeing this week here in the Panhandle! Here are a few of the ag law stories in the news this week.
* Texas Railroad Commission Failed to Track Oilfield Waste Injections Into Groundwater Zones. In the first of several clips involving the Texas RRC we will see today, the Texas Tribune published an article claiming that even though the RRC agreed to track injections into zones that could hold drinking water sources for decades, the agency has apparently not done so. The RRC admitted that it allowed injections of waste into a “handful” of zones that could contain drinking water, but does not know how many times that has happened over the past 25 years. [Read article here.]
* EPA Believes North Texas Earthquakes Linked to Oil and Gas. The Environmental Protection Agency recently found there to be a “significant possibility” that recent earthquakes in north Texas are linked to oil and gas activity–namely injection wells, despite the RRC disagreeing with this assertion. [Read article here.]
* Texas Lawmakers Review Sunset Recommendations to RRC. The Sunset Advisory Committee recently issued its report on the RRC [read full report here], proposing several changes to the agency and its responsibilities including changing the name, increasing drilling and pipeline oversight, modifying rules regarding abandoned wells, improving record keeping, and removing jurisdiction over natural gas utilities. When the report went before a committee of state lawmakers on Sunset Review, many of the legislators seemed to indicate they viewed these changes as unnecessary, and at least one accused the committee of being “angry” at the RRC. [Read article here.]
* Texas Hornshell Mussel Proposed Listed Under Endangered Species Act. The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed listing the Texas hornshell mussel as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. This freshwater mussel is one of about a dozen mussels being considered for such listing, and may indicate there are more species to follow. If the Texas hornshell (or the other mussels under consideration) are eventually listed, this could have major impacts on state distribution of surface water to many users, including farmers. [Read article here.] The USFWS is accepting public comment on the proposed listing from now until October 11. [To comment, click here.]
* TAMU Real Estate Center Hiring Attorney. For any of you attorneys on the job market, the Texas A&M Real Estate Center is advertising an open position for a real estate attorney with 10 years of law practice and licensed in Texas to serve as a “Research Scientist.” [For more info, click here].
* Upcoming Extension Conferences. There are a couple of great conferences coming up soon that you all may be interested in. The Women Landowner Wildlife Stewardship Conference will be held in Fredericksburg, TX on October 3-4. This is an awesome conference and organizer, Dr. Larry Redmond, does an outstanding job of getting in practical speakers, planning great tours, and having exciting events for attendees. [For more info, click here.] Later this year, December 13-14, the Blackland Income Growth Conference will be held in Waco. This is one of the largest conferences for Central Texas farmers, ranchers, and landowners, and offers a wide variety of programs and information. [For more info, click here.]
*No livestock abuse on my watch. Lastly, because most of these stories were depressing, I wanted to share an article written by Texas Farm Bureau News Editor, Jessica Domel discussing the fact that animal abuse is the rare exception rather than the norm on Texas ranches and dairies. [Read article here.]