Groundwater and the 83rd Texas Legislature: Despite Legal Uncertainties, Pragmatic Improvements Still Possible (and Necessary)

Shrinking reservoirs and dry river beds have galvanized public and policy maker attention to water issues in the last year.  From how to provide state funding for critical water conservation and infrastructure needs to controversy over surface water rights allocation during droughts, attention has generally centered on more visible surface water issues. But, those aren’t the only issues… Full Story

Brazos River Lawsuit Raises Questions about Methods Texas Should Use to Modernize Its Surface Water Rights System

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has rescinded a controversial order suspending certain water rights in the Brazos River basin.  The agency had been scheduled to consider a recent modification to the order at its hearing this Wednesday. In many ways, the order had served as a trial balloon of a policy the agency wants to use to manage water as… Full Story

The Endangered Species Act Turns 40 in 2013

On December 28, 1973, President Richard M. Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law. Nixon, whose veto of the Clean Water Act had been overridden by Congress a year earlier, said in his signing statement, “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our… Full Story

Under Bill, Homeowners Associations Can’t Block Water Conservation

Water planners have warned that Texas cannot meet its future water needs unless it conserves more water.  The 2012 State Water Plan – the starting point for water negotiations during this legislative session – calls for about a third of the additional supplies needed by 2060 to be achieved through conservation or reuse. That is a tall… Full Story

LNG Exports: A Good Idea?

The shale gas boom in the United States holds the prospect of inexpensive natural gas for the foreseeable future. One of the happy consequences of that fact is the redirection of investment (particularly in energy intensive industries) away from foreign countries and back toward the United States. However, natural gas prices have been volatile historically,… Full Story

Hydraulic Fracturing in Texas: The Changing Legal Landscape

An oil and gas extraction technique called hydraulic fracturing has dominated media reports as discoveries about the impacts of this technology have continued to emerge.  Last month, the International Energy Agency declared that the United States was experiencing a “renaissance” in energy, largely due to drilling and fracturing in unconventional formations; indeed, the Agency believes that… Full Story

Fracking and Seismic Risks

With explorers and producers looking to expand their operations in the Monterey Shale, in quake-prone California, even more attention is likely to be put on the uncertain seismic impacts of hydraulic fracturing and the proper way to regulate against harmful ground movements. In recent years, as fracking has become more common, seismologists have recorded a significant… Full Story

Supreme Court to Consider Oklahoma Restrictions on Water Exports

The Supreme Court has agreed to review a Tenth Circuit opinion holding that Oklahoma water embargo statutes do not violate the Commerce Clause or the Red River Compact. The case will be the first in more than a quarter-century that the Court has heard regarding protectionist water policies.  The outcome will shape the water future of the… Full Story

Alaska Fracking Regulations Raise Bar for Disclosure Requirements

Alaska has issued proposed fracking regulations that would require drillers to disclose the chemical composition of pumping fluids and would offer no trade secret protection for that information. Disclosure requirements have been a focal point in the ongoing struggle between industry and environmental and community groups over fracking.  The regulations that have been adopted in other states have largely given cover to proprietary… Full Story