AUSTIN — The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Texas Farm Bureau today announced their support of HB 3028 to provide regulatory certainty for groundwater ownership rights. The bill, authored by Representative DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne), addresses the state’s water priorities while protecting private property rights guaranteed under the Texas Constitution.
A 2012 Texas Supreme Court decision, EAA v. Day, affirmed that groundwater, like oil and gas, is regulated by the “fair share” doctrine. This means the purpose of groundwater regulation is to afford each owner of water, in a common subsurface reservoir, a fair share of the water in place under their land.
“HB 3028 will codify into state law a principle that has been well established by 80 years of court cases,” said Rep. Burns. “Our state prides itself on providing regulatory certainty, and groundwater owners are long overdue in seeing their rights codified into law.”
The principle of fair share has long been the law of the land for oil and gas production in Texas. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Texas Farm Bureau, two of the state’s leading landowner and agricultural groups, agree that it is time for groundwater regulators to recognize the court also apply this law to groundwater.
“Landowners should not have to continue going to court to assert their constitutional right to their groundwater,” said Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association President Richard Thorpe. “HB 3028 works to address this issue, and I would like to thank Rep. Burns for his unwavering leadership in the effort to protect the groundwater rights of Texas landowners.”
Water is of ever-increasing importance to the future of Texas and its 27.8 million residents.
“Landowners and agricultural producers shouldn’t be in legal limbo for decades while groundwater districts and users with an agenda discriminate between landowners and re-litigate what fair share means for groundwater,” said Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening. “The courts have already told us what fair share means, and HB 3028 recognizes that law.”
Texas Farm Bureau and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association pledged a unified effort with Rep. Burns and other legislators to secure the passage of HB 3028, providing regulatory certainty on groundwater rights.
TSCRA is a 140-year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has more than 17,500 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 55,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, but throughout the Southwest.
Texas Farm Bureau is the largest farm and ranch organization in Texas with more than 519,000 member-families. As a general farm organization, TFB represents producers of all commodities grown in Texas and is organized in 206 Texas counties.