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Natural Disasters and State-Level Executive Powers

This summer, the Sunlight Foundation – a nonprofit that advocates for open government – released a comparative study of the accessibility of state-level executive orders. It found a great deal of variability from one state to the next, in terms of both accessibility and the legal substance of the orders. As the study noted, state-level… Full Story

Seismic Activity and Hydraulic Fracturing

Earlier this month, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon created a new entity – the Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity—to connect legislators with researchers exploring the relationship between seismicity and hydraulic fracturing. The month before, a resident of Prague – a small town about 60 miles due east of Oklahoma City – filed a complaint in state… Full Story

Early Takeaways from the Deepwater Horizon Decision

Last week, Judge Carl Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana issued an opinion in the first phase of the trial over the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which remains the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history The court had previously split the trial into three phases. The first was conducted between February and April 2013… Full Story

Texas Railroad Commission on track to address quakes

Over 30 earthquakes jolted the area in and around the City of Azle, Texas —20 miles north of Fort Worth—last November through January.  In response to citizen concerns, the Texas House Committee on Energy Resources created a Subcommittee on Seismic Activity, to investigate whether there was a link between earthquakes and increased oil and gas… Full Story

Harmonizing Transparency: the Need for FOIA¬-Accessibility of Privately Funded Research that Informs Regulatory Action

Fifteen years ago Congress passed the Data Access Act, requiring public access to all federally funded research data used in agency decision-making.  The Data Access Act, implemented by OMB Circular A-110, requires federal agencies to provide underlying research data in federally funded research that is the subject of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. … Full Story

Quantifying the Unquantifiable: TWDB’s Proposed SWIFT Rule and the Challenges of Governing through Point Systems

This summer, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) proposed a rule to implement the state’s new $2 billion water infrastructure financing scheme.  The statutory framework governing the scheme is elaborate but, as is often the case with legislative enactments, somewhat general in parts, leaving many key decisions to the TWDB. The proposed rule fills in… Full Story

Chilean Energy Resources and the Hidro Aysen Project

Chilean Energy Minister Maximo Pacheco visited the United States earlier this month to meet with Obama administration energy officials and members of Houston’s energy community.  At a breakfast hosted by the University of Texas, he explained that his country has fewer fossil fuel resources than its Latin American neighbors and that, to compensate, it is… Full Story

An Unaccommodating Decision for the Accommodation Doctrine: Texas Groundwater Law and Severed Estates

At the moment, the water issues the Texas legislature appears likeliest to take up in its 2015 session involve groundwater.  In exploring potential groundwater policies – whether aimed at brackish groundwater production, aquifer storage and recovery, or some other subject area – it will have to contend with an outdated governance regime that makes the… Full Story

The Current State of Renewable Portfolio Standards

On June 13th, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 310, which extended the current 2025 deadline for Ohio to obtain at least 12.5 percent of its total energy from renewable sources by two years, to 2027. In order to reach the 12.5%, the original 2008 mandate, SB 221, included a plan to… Full Story

EPA’s Clean Power Plant Proposed Rule and Its Impact in Texas

In June, EPA introduced the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule, a plan to cut carbon emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. As proposed, the rule has two main elements: (1) specific goals setting amounts by which each state must reduce its CO2 emissions and (2) standards that… Full Story