May 15, 2020 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the ag law front.  Here are some of the cases in the news.

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

*Appellate court finds Texas Central Railroad is a “railroad company” and an “interurban electric railway.”  One of the main legal battles over the proposed high speed rail project in Central Texas has been whether the builder, Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, Inc. qualifies as a “railroad company” or an “interurban electric railway.”  If so, the company would likely be entitled to use eminent domain to condemn property upon which it will build the train tracks.  Opponents have argued that because the company currently owns not trains or tracks, they do not qualify and, therefore, are not entitled to use eminent domain.   A Leon County Judge previously sided with the challengers, ruling the company did not qualify under either definition.  Last week, the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals reversed that decision, holding that Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure was both a railroad company and an interurban electric railway.   [Read Opinion here.]  An appeal is expected.  I’ve got a full blog post on this opinion coming soon.

*SCOTUS remands Kinder Morgan indirect discharge case back to 4th Circuit.  As was expected, the United States Supreme Court remanded the Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP v. Upstate Forever so that the case may be considered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in light of the Court’s “functional equivalent” test as set forth in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund.  [Read more on County of Maui here.]  In Kinder Morgan, The Supreme Court had previously accepted certiorari on the case, but had not moved forward with oral argument.  [Read article here and remand order here.]  To hear me chat about the County of Maui opinion and potential impacts with two of the leading water law scholars in the US, be sure to check out the newest Ag Law in the Field episode that will release next Thursday morning.  [Click here or listen on your favorite podcast app.]

*Vista Ridge pipeline begins delivering water to San Antonio.  If you’ve been a blog follower for several years, you’ll remember we extensively discussed the Vista Ridge pipeline project that pipes groundwater from rural Burleson and Milam Counties to San Antonio.  [Read prior blog post here.]  Recently, the first deliveries pursuant to that project began. [Read article here.]

*NALC publishes compilation of state’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (“Drone”) laws.  The National Agriculture Law Center is famous for their state-by-state compilation resources and they’ve added a new topic recently: Drones.  Click here to see their 50 -state compilation of drone laws and regulations.

Upcoming Presentations

I do not currently have anything scheduled in the next two weeks, but I’ve got several potential webinars in the hopper, so be sure to keep an eye on my “Upcoming Presentations” page to know when and where I’ll be popping up!  Also, don’t forget about our Online Ranchers Leasing Workshop, which will allow you to access our three-hour long leasing workshop from the comfort of your own home, anytime you like, at your own pace.  For more information or to register, click here.

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