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Drought: Always a Disaster, Never a Presidentially Declared One

In May, the Senate passed the Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 (S. 2198), a bill directing various federal agencies to provide California with additional water supplies during its current drought. The version of the bill originally introduced included a title that would have amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act,… Full Story

How Chile Might Leave the “Chilean Model” Behind: President Bachelet’s Proposal to Reform the Country’s Famously Laissez-Faire Water Laws

Earlier this month, the Energy Center hosted a conference in Santiago on emerging trends in the use of international arbitration to resolve energy disputes in Latin America.  Naturally, it was the sort of occasion that inspired a comparative law perspective. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who assumed office in March 2014 (after having served a previous… Full Story

Dammed If You Do and Dammed If You Don’t: Austin’s New Rate Structure and the Inevitability of Higher Water Costs

This month, the Joint Committee on Austin Water Utility’s Financial Plan (Joint Committee) finalized recommendations to the Austin City Council for reforms to the utility’s rate structure.  The local media have reported the Committee recommendations will ultimately lead to higher rates, to make up for revenue shortfalls that have resulted from improved conservation and drought… Full Story

Coal Ash Disposal Challenge (Part 2)

(Editor’s Note: This post is the second of a two-part series on coal ash disposal. The first part focused on federal coal cash regulations and this post examines coal ash in Texas.) Texas is the largest consumer of coal in the U.S. and the second largest producer of coal ash, so the state is very… Full Story

Coal Ash Disposal Challenge (Part 1)

(Editor’s Note: This post is the first of a two-part series on coal ash disposal. The first part focuses on federal coal cash regulations. The second examines coal ash in Texas. ) In February of this year, we heard a lot about the discharge of coal ash into the Dan River, which runs along the… Full Story

A Sibling Rivalry: Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation

In the mid-1970s, the United States adopted its first significant policies aimed at meeting energy needs by reducing demand rather than increasing supply.  So began the energy efficiency movement. Despite the many similarities between the energy and water sectors, a decade passed before the country started to manage the demand side of water.  And so… Full Story

Texas Water Planning and the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) — the federal agency charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act — is required by a court order to decide the regulatory fate of more than 700 species of plants and animals by the end of 2018. As part of a 2011 settlement agreement between the Service… Full Story

New Colorado Methane Emissions Rules

On February 23rd, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) adopted the nation’s first statewide limit on emissions from natural gas fracking operations, including methane. An unusual coalition of energy companies and environmentalists crafted the regulations over the last year in the hopes of raising the quality of Colorado’s air, which has failed for years to… Full Story