Energy Center Blog

Psychological and Cultural Biases Distort Fracking Debates

Energy law is the product of energy politics, and politics can be emotional and contentious.  At the same time, many energy policy disputes turn on questions amenable to scientific study — the fight over acid rain in the 1980s, the long-running battle over climate change, and the current fight over hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), to name... Full Story

Limited by Day Decision, Texas Will Have to Move Toward Correlative Rights Regime for Groundwater

In the past few years, the drought in Texas has created urgency in the market for privately controlled water.  Postcard fliers are slipped under front doors in residential neighborhoods announcing deals: “$6/foot—No Water—No Pay.” The Supreme Court of Texas did its part, too. In the long-awaited case of Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day, the court decided... Full Story

University Study Finds San Antonio Is Most Water-Vulnerable City

The State Water Plan (SWP) and the impacts of the current drought have painted an unsettling portrait of water in Texas.  And giving still more reason for concern, a new study has found that San Antonio has less water available per capita than any big city in the country. The University of Florida surveyed metropolitan areas with populations of greater than 100,000.  Its authors started... Full Story

A Maritime Doughnut Hole in the Caribbean Sea: The International Court of Justice Establishes Maritime Boundary between Nicaragua and Colombia

On November 19, 2012, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) unanimously resolved a multi-year maritime boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia, establishing a single maritime boundary between the two States and elaborating on the jurisprudence relating to maritime boundary disputes. The Court’s decision was complicated by the issue of sovereignty over certain islands located about 100 to... Full Story

Interior Department Should Maintain Focus on Conservation

The tone and priorities of the Department of Interior will no doubt shift somewhat when Sally Jewell replaces Ken Salazar this March.  But the department should take care to maintain its commitment to water conservation under its new secretary. While other federal agencies such as the Department of Energy and the EPA regulate water, none... Full Story

The TCEQ Drought Rule Caused Confusion When Used on the Brazos River and That is Just the Start

On Wednesday, the Texas House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources held a joint hearing on water issues.  The hearing included testimony from a climatologist, the mayor of Abilene, and representatives from the State Water Development Board and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The TCEQ presentation cycled through the agency’s ongoing drought efforts.  But lawmakers focused... Full Story

TCEQ Drought Rule Could Result in Takings

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the current drought will continue or intensity for most of Texas over the coming months.  The Lower Colorado River Authority has warned that, unless conditions improve, drought conditions this year could be worst on record. In its current session, the Texas legislature has responded to drought primarily by looking to the long-term. ... Full Story

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