Category Archives: Water Law

Texas Supreme Court: Courts, Not TCEQ, Determine Water Rights Ownership in Texas

The Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in Pape Partners, Ltd. v. DRR Family Properties, and in doing so, answered the question of whether it is the courts or the TCEQ that has jurisdiction over water rights ownership disputes in Texas.  [Read Opinion here.] Background Lola Robinson owned two pieces of property in McLennan County, the farm and an adjacent 250-acre tract of land.  In 1986, she obtained two water rights permits from the TCEQ to irrigate from the Brazos River for one of the farms.  The permits did… Read More →

Turtles All the Way Down: A Clearer Understanding of the Scope of Waters of the United States Based on the U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

I am excited to announce that Jesse Richardson, Gatlin Squires, and I recently had a law review article published in the William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review. [Click here.] Our article, Turtles All the Way Down: A Clearer Understanding of the Scope of Waters of the United States Based on the U.S. Supreme Court Decisions, takes a deep dive into the history surrounding the “waters of the United States” definition, charting approaches from regulations to Supreme Court cases to the recent Obama and Trump Rules.  It was… Read More →

April 1, 2022 Weekly Round Up

Happy April! We’ve got lots of happenings in the agricultural law world today. *US Supreme Court will hear case challenging constitutionality of California’s Proposition 12. The United States Supreme Court has granted the Petition for Certiorari in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, a case challenging the animal confinement provisions and corresponding product sales limitations imposed on pork producers. Lower courts dismissed the challenge brought by the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation claiming that the law runs afoul of the Constitution. [Read article here.]… Read More →

March 18, 2022 Weekly Round Up

It has a been a wild couple of weeks around here with seven presentations since the last Weekly Round Up.  Like my schedule, it’s been a busy couple of weeks in the ag law realm as well. * Parties continue settlement discussions in Texas v. New Mexico.  As noted last week, the Special Master overseeing the litigation in Texas v. New Mexico postponed the trial date and gave the parties until March 1 to report back on settlement negotiations.  The parties have asked for additional time to continue ongoing negotiations and will… Read More →

March 4, 2022 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday!  There have been a number of agricultural law stories in the news over the past couple of weeks. *Texas Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Hlavinka v. HSC Pipeline Partnership.  The Texas Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in an important eminent domain case analyzing what a pipeline must show in order to claim common carrier status and the ability of a landowner to testify regarding other pipeline easement values.  To read my summary of the court of appeals’ decision being reviewed by the Supreme Court, click… Read More →

Who Determines Ownership of Water Rights in Texas?

The Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on March 24, 2022 in Pape Partners, Ltd. v. DRR Family Properties LP, a case posing the question of who determines ownership of water rights in Texas, the courts or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality? Background In 2014, the Papes purchased farmland. As part of the purchase, sellers conveyed surface water rights to the Papes.  The Certificates of Adjudication for the surface water rights was originally in 1986 as part of a judgment in a lawsuit under the Texas Water… Read More →

WOTUS Update: Another year, another definition

As we have for the past five years in a row, Shannon Ferrell and I recently authored an article for Southwest Farm Press providing an update on the current status of the meaning of “waters of the United States.  To hear our thoughts on where we are now, click here.  Jim Bradbury and I discussed this exact topic on our most recent Ag Law in the Field Podcast episode, which you can find here. Also, since our article was written, the United States Supreme Court has granted a… Read More →

February 4, 2022 Weekly Round Up

Happy Friday from the cold, snowy Texas Panhandle.  Here are a few of the ag law stories in the news over the past couple of weeks. *United States Supreme Court to review Sackett v. EPA.  The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in Sackett v. EPA in order to answer a very important question under the Clean Water Act:  What is the proper tests for courts to use in determining whether a wetland is considered a Water of the United States?  The US Court of Appeals for the… Read More →

2021 Ag Law Year in Review – National

Happy 2022!  As we do each year, we’ve compiled our list of some of the biggest agricultural law stories in 2021.  Today, we will take a look at this from the national level.  Next week, we will take a look at Texas-specific issues.  To hear Paul Goeringer and I discuss the biggest issues of 2021, click here to listen to our year-end episode of the Ag Law in the Field Podcast. Waters of the United States If there has been one constant over the last 5 years, it… Read More →

United States Supreme Court Dismisses Mississippi v. Tennessee Groundwater Lawsuit

The United States Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous opinion in an ongoing groundwater dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee.  [Read Opinion here.] I wrote a blog post detailing this decision for the National Agricultural Law Center.  To read my summary of the dispute, description of the Opinion, and thoughts about what this means from here, just click here to read that post.