Posts by Jeremy Brown

Jeremy Brown is a research fellow at the Energy Center. His current work focuses water management and environmental finance. He previously practiced energy and environmental law at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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

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

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

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groundwater production, aquifer storage and recovery, or some other subject area – it will have to contend with an outdated governance regime that makes the… Full Story

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

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

TWDB Proposes Method for Solving Ward Timber Conflict

Last  year, a Texas appellate court raised doubts about the certainty and reliability of the state’s water planning process when it found that two key planning documents impermissibly conflicted with each other. This week, staff for the state agency that oversees water planning – the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) – submitted a memo to… Full Story