News Types: Media Coverage

KBH Center Executive Director Melinda Taylor Participates in 21st Annual Texas Land Conservation Conference

The Texas Land Trust Council hosted the 21st Annual Texas Land Conservation Conference March 1 – 3, 2017 at the Hilton Austin Airport Hotel in Austin. Their goal for each conference is to deliver diverse, innovative, and relevant education to land conservation organizations, public agency partners, landowners, and professional colleagues throughout the state. Professor Melinda Taylor, the Executive Director of the KBH Center and a nationally recognized environmental law expert, moderated and spoke on a panel on the second day of this three-day conference titled “Designing Mitigation Markets that Achieve Effective Conservation Outcomes.”

Rod Wetsel, “‘The wild west of wind’: Republicans push Texas as unlikely green energy leader” (The Guardian)

On February 20, 2017, The Guardian published a story examining how Texas, the most oil-rich and fracking friendly of states, has found itself with the improbably status of being a national leader in a wind energy boom. “Texas is still the wild west of wind, sort of like the old prospecting days,” said Rod Wetsel, a Sweetwater attorney whose great-great grandparents settled in the town in the 1880s. “You can come out here, stick your stake in the ground, go get the leases from the land owners, you have no permitting – there’s no regulatory agency that controls wind, other than the public utility commission, which really just controls the grid system.”

Rod Wetsel is an Adjunct Professor in the KBH Center, where he teaches courses and seminars on Wind Law and Texas Wind Law.

David Spence, “What Energy Producers Need to Know About Trump’s SCOTUS Pick” (Law.com)

On February 22, 2017, Law.com quoted Professor David Spence is a story about what energy producers need to know about Trump’s SCOTUS pick. According to the story, Gorsuch’s influence is likely to first surface with a ruling on the Clean Power Plan litigation. David Spence, a professor at University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business and School of Law, agreed that the Clean Power Plan litigation could be the first significant case related to energy and the environment that Gorsuch would face if confirmed. Under the Trump administration, the Environment Protection Agency will likely pull back its objections to prior rulings halting the effective date of the plan, Spence predicted. But if the EPA stops support of the plan, and other regulations, that “will certainly generate litigation by groups arguing that the statutes require regulation of the activities that those rules addressed,” Spence said. “So, regulation of greenhouse gases, mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, and of depositing mining waste material in rivers and streams all seem to be likely subjects of litigation that might find its way to the Supreme Court eventually,” he said. In addition, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, under Trump, pulls back a series of rules that encourage a transition to a greener, more decentralized electric system, that too will likely trigger litigation, he said. There, Spence said he expects Gorsuch’s views on Chevron deference to be significant. “I don’t know a lot about Judge Gorsuch’s prior record. I do know that he is on the record expressing skepticism about the delegation of policy-making power to agencies, and seems likely to take a very restricted view of that power,” Spence said.

Melinda Taylor, “Here’s Another Staggering Cost of Trump’s Border Wall” (The Huffington Post)

On February 17, 2017, The Huffington Post quoted Professor Melinda Taylor, the executive director of the KBH Center, in a story about the environmental cost of Trump’s border wall. According to the story, “Environmentalists say they are particularly concerned that Trump, thanks to a legal loophole, may be able to push through his plans for the wall with little or no environmental oversight,” which Taylor said Trump could exploit to devastating effect. “The new administration has a wild card they can pull and it’s in this law,” Taylor told CNN last month. “The language in this law allows them to waive all federal laws that would be an impediment to building any type of physical barrier along the border, including a wall.” If Trump does use this “wild card” to duck environmental protections, “it will be particularly tragic,” said Taylor. “If they really try to build a wall, without regard for environmental laws and without environmental impact statements, the effect of a border wall would be more catastrophic than a border fence.”