Happy December! There has been a lot of agricultural law news over the past few weeks, so here are some of the biggest stories impacting agriculture.
*Texas Supreme Court denied petition for review in Lyle v. Midway Solar. Earlier this year, the El Paso Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed by mineral owners against a solar company for building a solar farm on the property. The court held that the accommodation doctrine would apply, but that because the mineral owner had not sought to actually develop the minerals, there was no valid legal claim. [Read prior blog post here.] The mineral developer filed a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court, which was denied last month.
*Biden administration proposes “Waters of the United States” definition. The Biden administration has released its proposed definition of “Waters of the United States.” [Read press release here and proposed rule here.] The EPA describes this proposed rule as “re-establishing the pre-2015 definition of waters of the United States.” In particular, the rule will include waters that meet either the relatively permanent standard set forth by Justice Scalia in the Rapanos case or the significant nexus standard as described by Justice Kennedy’s dissent in the same case. There is a public comment period for 60 days upon the proposed rule being published in the Federal Register, and a number of virtual hearings will be held in January 2022. I’ll have a full blog post on the proposed rule soon.
*Six building blocks of a soil carbon contract. My friend, Todd Janzen, wrote an article highlighting six key issues to consider before entering into a carbon contract. Todd does a great job of explaining these six “building blocks” as he calls them. [Read blog post here.]
*US Supreme Court dismisses Mississippi v. Tennessee groundwater lawsuit. The US Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Mississippi’s claim against Tennessee in a case involving a dispute over an interstate aquifer. I’ve got a full blog post on this case that will be out in the coming weeks. [Read Opinion here.]
*EPA fines Nutrien Ag Solutions over improper dicamba use in 2020. The EPA has levied a $668,000 fine against Nutrien Ag Solutions for 27 off-label applications of dicamba in 2020. According to DTN, this is the first enforcement action by the EPA over dicamba label violations, as others have been handled by state regulators. [Read article here.]
*Kansas seeks US Supreme Court review of “ag gag” lawsuit. After the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a ruling holding much of Kansas’ Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act” unconstitutional, Kansas has filed a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. [Read prior blog post on appellate court decision here and Petition here.]
I’ve still got a handful of presentations left before the end of the year. Next week, I’ll be speaking at Judges and Commissioners’ Conferences in San Angelo, Ft. Stockton, and Uvalde.
On Wednesday, December 8, I’ll be in Tyler for the Texas Landowners Summit, hosted by Heritage Land Bank. This event features some great information for rural landowners, and I’m excited to be there to chat about ag leases and landowner liability. Click here for more information.
Lastly, I’ll be rounding out the year with a presentation on estate planning in Canyon on Tuesday, December 14. My friend, Leah Davis, will join me and it should be a great program! Click here for more information.
Don’t forget, I’ve got two online courses that are available for you to take anytime, at your own pace, from the comfort of your home. Check out our Online Ranchers Leasing Workshop and Online Owning Your Piece of Texas classes.