Category Archives: WOTUS

September 1, 2017 Ag Law Weekly Round Up

It has been quite a week here in Texas.  To those of you suffering the devastating floods, our thoughts and prayers are with you. To those of you joining us this week who attended the Ranchers Leasing Workshops in Lubbock and College Station, welcome to the blog!  Also, happy to have new followers from the estate planning program I recently spoke at in Longview. Here are some of the ag law stories making news this week. *WOTUS Rule repeal comment period extended through September 27, 2017.  The Environmental… Read More →

Duarte v. Corps of Engineers: California Wheat Farmer Settles Clean Water Act Lawsuit

This week, it was announced that the parties have reached a settlement agreement in the Duarte Nursery v. Army Corps of Engineers.  This case has been a high-profile concern for landowners and agricultural producers across the United States. Background In 2012, Duarte Nursery purchased 450 acres land in Tehama County, California with the intent to farm the land, initially by sowing winter wheat.  The property, north of Sacramento, consists of rolling grassland.  Prior to 1988, the land had been farmed, but from 1988 until the Duarte purchased in 2012, the land… Read More →

WOTUS: Where Are We Now?

For years now, agriculture has been closely following the drama surrounding the definition of “Waters of the United States,” commonly referred to as WOTUS.  With a new administration in place, changes have recently occurred in Washington, DC on this issue. Background The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, gave federal jurisdiction to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (COE) over “waters of the United States.”  Essentially, a person who wishes to do certain activities in a water of the United States—such as point source… Read More →

August 4, 2017 Weekly Round Up

And just like that, it’s August!  Where has the summer gone? Here are some of the ag law stories making news this week. * Water war brewing in West Texas.  A rural West Texas landowner wants to drill wells, build a pipeline, and sell water to oil and gas companies some 60 miles away in the Permian Basin.  This is the situation in Van Horn, where a large landowner has sought a permit from the Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District to drill 7 wells on his 140,000 acre… Read More →

June 30, 2017 Weekly Round Up

This week I spoke to a great group in Sweetwater about leases and estate planning.  Welcome to those of you joining from that meeting! There has been so much ag law news happening in the last couple of weeks that my head is still spinning.  Here are the highlights. * Jury verdict for Kansas farmers in first Syngenta Viptera/Duracade class action trial.  A Kansas jury awarded nearly $218 million to Kansas farmers in this much-watched class action suit, finding that Syngenta was negligent.  Syngenta has already said it plans… Read More →

May 12, 2017 Weekly Round Up

We’ve made it to Friday yet again!  Here are some of the legal issues in the news this week. * EPA seeks input from governors on revisions to WOTUS rule.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter this week to the 50 state governors seeking input from them on the re-write of the WOTUS rule.  He noted the value and importance of local input when writing the new rule.  [Read article here.] * Federal judge dismisses legal challenge to North Carolina lawsuit over Property Protection Act.  A federal… Read More →

May 5, 2017 Weekly Round Up

Happy Cinco de Mayo to you all!  I hope everyone is having a great week.  Here are some of the ag law stories in the news. * Company cancels request for registration of Kaput feral hog pesticide in Texas.  Scimetrics, the company seeking registration in Texas for warfarin-based poison, Kaput, for use on feral hogs has withdrawn their request.  The company stated that due to pending and threatened lawsuits, they could not risk the “disruption of our business” at this time by seeking to proceed with this product… Read More →

President Trump Issues Executive Order on WOTUS

As many had anticipated, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Tuesday dealing with the “Waters of the United States” rule. [Read full order here.] You may recall that back in 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and Corps of Engineers passed a rule “clarifying” the definition of “Waters of the United States” as the term is used in the Clean Water Act.  Immediately, numerous States (including Texas), agricultural industry groups, and other businesses filed suits across the country claiming that  the new rule was too broadly written and gave… Read More →

Round 2 in Hawkes v. Corps of Engineers Goes to Landowners

The litigation continues for the parties involved in Hawkes v. US Army Corps of Engineers.  This Clean Water Act case made its way to the United States Supreme Court last year, where the Court held that a landowner has the right to challenge an approved jurisdictional determination by the government that his or her property was a “water of the United States,” and therefore, subject to the Clean Water Act.  [Read prior blog post explaining that decision here.] After that decision, the case was sent back to the trial… Read More →

Where Do We Stand on WOTUS

For the third year in a row, Shannon Ferrell and I have decided to cover the status of the “waters of the United States” rule in our annual article for the Southwest Farm Press.  Between the Duarte Nursery trial court decision in California, the landowner victory in the United States Supreme Court Hawkes ruling, and the speculation about actions that the Trump administration might take, we had plenty of angles to consider.  To read our article, click here.