The CSG West Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee discussed hemp production and regulation, one of the oldest industries on the planet but only permitted in the U.S. since 1999. Members also considered conservation of water as it relates to agriculture uses.

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that state officials with the California Department of Public Health are warning that 17 most rural communities may run out of water within the next 60 to 120 days as the staggering effects of the state's historic drought continue. 

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Brydon Ross outlines the top five issues for 2014, including upcoming Clean Air state implementation plans, EPA cooling water intake regulations, increased scrutiny on crude oil transportation safety, potential rate and policy disputes involving net metering, and lingering impacts that drought may pose for states and water infrastructure.  

A June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is being hailed as a significant victory for interstate compacts.  At issue in the case was whether the Tarrant Regional Water District, located in Texas, could access water from the Red River in Oklahoma pursuant to the terms of the Red River Compact. In the ruling the Court concluded that Tarrant was not entitled to the water in question based on the terms of the compact.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) announced that it will reduce releases from Lake Powell into Lake Mead to its lowest level since filling Lake Powell in the 1960s. 

A unanimous ruling in June by the U.S. Supreme Court is being hailed as a significant victory for interstate compacts. In Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann, the court rejected the claims of the Tarrant Regional Water District to access water in Oklahoma based on the terms of the Red River Compact. The court ruled that under on the terms of the agreement Tarrant had no right to the water in question.

By Rick Masters, Special Counsel to CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts

On Thursday, June 13, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court again upheld the bedrock principle that compacts are contracts and reiterated the immutable rule that “Because interstate compacts are construed under contract law principles, see Texas v. New Mexico, 482 U. S. 124, 128, the Court begins by examining the Compact’s express terms as the best indication of the parties’ intent.”  See Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann, et p.11.  In the Tarrant case the Court was called upon to interpret the provisions of the Red River Compact which is a congressionally sanctioned agreement that allocates water rights within the Red River basin among the States of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. 

The United States uses 410 billion gallons of water everyday. Domestic usage in Western states is much higher than in non-Western states at 128.9 gallons per person per day compared to the national average of 98 gallons per person per day.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in April 2013, in the matter of Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann. While the specifics of the case pertain to a dispute between Texas and Oklahoma over water from the Red River, the court’s ruling will be watched closely by the numerous interstate compacts that regulate shared bodies of water. 

The New York Times recently featured a story covering the opening of the Texas legislative session and its marquee issue - the state's historic drought and potential policy solutions to mitigate its long-lasting impacts.