News Types: Media Coverage

Melinda Taylor, “Chicken kicks up legal skirmish in oil patch” (Houston Chronicle

June 27 Houston Chronicle article quotes Energy Center executive director Melinda Taylor on a challenge to the lesser prairie chicken’s threatened status by the oil and gas industry. According to the story, “At issue is whether the government can rely on voluntary agreements with landowners to preserve habitat for the imperiled species, or whether the only guarantee is to declare a species endangered and thereby severely limit its habitat for commercial use.” Lawsuits challenging the decision have been filed by a number of industry groups, municipalities, and the state of Kansas. “Protecting the chicken is particularly complex because its range is so vast, stretching over five states [Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas]. How federal courts decide the case could influence how other troubled species with multi-state territories are protected,” Taylor said. “It’s not easy because there is no other model,” Taylor said of the efforts to reverse the species’ decline. “It’s the model because it hasn’t been done before at this scale.”

Tom McGarity, “Judge upholds jury verdict for family in Texas fracking case” (Miami Herald)

The Miami Herald quoted professor Tom McGarity in a June 20 story on a pivotal case involving toxic emissions from gas and oil drilling where the presiding judge accepted a jury verdict that awarded $2.9 million to a family who said the emissions have made them sick. According to the story, “Judge Mark Greenberg issued a one-page ruling late Thursday denying a motion by Aruba Petroleum to reject the jury’s verdict. Among Aruba’s arguments rejected by Greenberg were that Bob and Lisa Parr did not prove the emissions that made them sick came from Aruba wells.” “Losing the case was not good for the industry,” said McGarity. “My guess is the industry will coalesce around this case. The industry will want to stop the dam from breaking wide open. … This is where they will take a stand.”

Jeff Civins, “Texas Rulings Could Ease Permit Battles At TCEQ” (Law360)

In a May 2 article, Law360 quoted professor Jeff Civins on recent Texas appellate rulings that give broad discretion to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in determining whether opponents of proposed air- and water-quality permits are entitled to a formal administrative hearing, potentially allowing applicants to avoid lengthy court battles and years of delay. “[T]he contested case hearing process, which Texas adopted in the mid-1970s, gives people opposed to a project ‘a significant gun to hold to the head of a project developer,’” says Civins. “[T]he recent rulings are ‘more process than substance … [f]rom an applicant’s perspective, you’ve got to be a little discouraged.’”

Tom McGarity, “Texas Family’s Nuissance Complaint Seen As a Win Against Fracking” (Capital Public Radio)

Capital Public Radio quoted professor Tom McGarity on a May 4 story on what’s been called the first anti-fracking verdict in the U.S. after a Dallas jury awarded nearly $3 million to a family who said they were poisoned by a natural gas drilling operation near their North Texas ranch. The verdict is unique, according to McGarity. “It is rare for any case to go to the jury in a civil case, just simply because most settle,” he says. “[Aruba Petroleum] apparently decided to draw the line, which as it turns out was not necessarily a very good decision.”

David Spence, “Supreme Court’s Air Pollution Ruling Goes Against Texas” (Texas Tribune)

In an April 29 article, the Texas Tribune quoted professor David Spence on the Supreme Court’s air pollution ruling, by 6-2 vote, to reinstate the Cross-State Pollution Rule, a regulation that aims to limit the effects of air pollution across state boundaries. “This is a big decision,” said Spence. “It’s one of the things that is putting pressure on coal-fired power.”

David Spence, “What a Ban on Fracking in Denton Could Mean For the Rest of Texas” (State Impact)

State Impact Texas quoted professor David Spence in an April 8 story on a potential hydraulic fracturing ban in the Dallas suburb of Denton. In it, Spence explained that courts have tended to side with local governments in legal challenges to land use restrictions on fracking but that there is no Texas precedent squarely on point. “This issue may be enough of a hot-button issue that courts are going to really work hard to try to find a way to be able to uphold local ordinances, and at least we’ve seen a little bit of that in the northeast.”



Melinda Taylor, “Ship Operator in Houston Spill on Probation for Pollution” (Washington Post)

Numerous media outlets have quoted Energy Center Executive Director on the Galveston Bay oil spill.

The Washington Post, running a Bloomberg story, quoted her as saying: ““I think we found after the BP oil spill it’s very difficult to predict how that oil is going to behave … A lot of it depends on weather conditions, the type of oil that spilled, the weight of that oil, and the constituents in that oil.”