Energy Center Blog

BLM Fracking Rules and Water Supply

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently regulates hydraulic fracturing (fracturing) through a rule that was adopted three decades ago and last revised in 1988.  43 C.F.R. § 3160.  Because of its age, the existing rule does not account for the risks or opportunities that have resulted from innovations in horizontal drilling and fracturing technology.... Full Story

Planning Organizations Could Manage Regional PACE Programs

Texas Governor Rick Perry recently signed new PACE enabling legislation into law.  S.B. 385 overhauls existing statutes that authorized PACE in Texas but never gave rise to any actual PACE programs. Municipalities and counties can now enter into PACE contractual assessments for water and energy efficiency improvements with owners of real property.  (For more background on PACE... Full Story

TCEQ Could Provide Water by Declining to Enforce Senior Rights

A state district court judge recently invalidated a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) rule allowing the agency, during droughts or other emergency water shortages, to enforce senior water rights by suspending junior water rights.  The rub was that the agency could, in the process, exempt preferred junior water rights holders such as municipalities and electric... Full Story

A War on Coal, or a War on Climate Change?

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday its plan to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants.  This is the latest salvo in what some Texans (and others) call the “war on coal.”  It is more likely a reluctant act born of political gridlock — a second-best option for a... Full Story

Clean Air Act Doesn’t Preempt Dallas’ Green Taxi Program

The Fifth Circuit has upheld a Dallas ordinance that incentivizes taxi operators to convert to compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles by allowing them to cut to the front of holding lines at municipally owned Love Field.  The Association of Taxicab Operators (ATO) had challenged the ordinance, claiming it was preempted under the Clean Air Act... Full Story

Oklahoma Wins SCOTUS Red River Case

The Supreme Court ruled last week against a North Texas water district in a dispute with Oklahoma over water in the Red River basin.  In Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) v. Herrmann, the Court held that Texas did not have a right under the Red River Compact to divert water from within Oklahoma. In 2007, the... Full Story

“Interregional Conflicts” in Texas Water Planning

Since its release, the 2012 State Water Plan (SWP) has served as a blueprint for Texas water planning and a call-to-arms for lawmakers intent on increasing infrastructure funding.  But a recent state appellate court decision highlights the flaws inherent in the SWP and weakens its position as a foundation for future water policy. The SWP... Full Story

Texas’ Changing Relationship with Water

Austin journalist (and full disclosure: Energy Center friend) Ari Phillips recently published a fantastic investigative piece in Texas Climate News on groundwater depletion in Central Texas.  Among the highlights: Insulation from Drought:  Ari notes that during the 1950s drought – the worst on record, as many new stories about the current drought have reminded – “most Texans... Full Story

Texas Considers Benefit Corporations

A bill stalled out in the Texas legislature last week that would have permitted a new type of corporate organization intended to promote social entrepreneurship.  Introduced by state Rep. Stephanie Carter, H.B. 2565 – on the ropes for now, always capable of coming back – would have let Texas businesses operate as “benefit corporations.” Spread of Benefit Corporations... Full Story

Congressional Research Service on Drought

Though there has recently been heavy flooding in the Upper Mississippi, almost two-thirds of the country – including Texas — remains in a drought or abnormally dry.  Against this backdrop, the Congressional Research Service this week released a report on drought causes, patterns and policy responses.  Among the observations: Climactic Conditions Future Conditions Likely to be Drier:  Modeling suggests the... Full Story