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Water Supply and System Loss in Texas

KVUE reported last week that the City of Austin lost 3 billion gallons of water to leaky or broken pipes in 2012 and another 4 billion in 2011 – at the very time Texas was contending with its worst single-year drought on record. The station quoted a city spokesperson as saying that Austin has hundreds of miles… Full Story

President Obama’s Executive Order on Chemical Facility Safety Is a Step in the Right Direction

Recently, President Obama signed an executive order, entitled “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” that is designed to get state, federal and local chemical safety agencies and first responders to improve coordination, information gathering, and regulation with respect to the risks posed by the many highly reactive chemical compounds that are stored and used throughout the… Full Story

Using the Market to Conserve Endangered Species: Promising Approach or a Pipe Dream?

The federal Endangered Species Act has been referred to by legal scholars as the “pit bull” of environmental statutes, because of its “sharp teeth and strong grip.” The ESA’s structure is simple compared to other environmental laws:  animals and plants that are at risk of becoming extinct may become “listed” as “threatened” or “endangered” and,… Full Story

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