Posts by Vanessa Puig-Williams

Vanessa Puig-Williams is an Austin-based legal consultant with an expertise in Texas environmental law. She currently practices conservation law and writes on water related issues in Texas.

Should water be managed like oil and gas?

Groundwater law and oil and gas law share the same genesis—the ancient law of absolute ownership – the notion that a landowner owns everything above and beneath his land, “up to the sky and down to the depths.”[1] But after applying the rule of capture – a doctrine that does not impose liability against one… Full Story

Reforming the Endangered Species Act: Industry Groups Seek to Dismantle Our Country’s Most Purposeful Conservation Tool

Recognizing that, as a “consequence of economic growth and development,” many “species of fish wildlife and plants” in the United States are on the brink of extinction, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA or the Act) in 1973 with overwhelming bipartisan support.[1] Today, the Endangered Species Act is supported by the majority of Americans,… Full Story

House Bills 3620 and 3621, by Representative Isaac, Erode Water Quality and Open Space Protections in the Hill Country

On April 13th, the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Land and Resource Management heard House Bills 3620 and 3621, authored by State Representative Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs. In a maneuver likely designed to avoid heated debate over his bills, which critics argue will fuel development in environmentally sensitive areas of the Hill County,… Full Story

Bill Requires Applicants for Oil and Gas Disposal Well Permits to Notify Groundwater Conservation Districts

In June 2013, the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District (GCUWCD) discovered, through a newspaper publication in the Gonzales Inquirer, that Marathon Oil Company had applied to the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) for a permit to inject oil and gas waste into a former brackish groundwater well in the Carrizo formation of the Carrizo… Full Story

Rule of Capture Undermines Groundwater Regulation in Texas

In mid-western Hays County, a groundwater war is escalating. A private water supplier, with goals to pipe and sell close to 6,000 acre feet of water per year has strategically located a well field in an area of the Hill Country where the Trinity Aquifer is unregulated. Unlike the more recent groundwater controversies involving decisions… Full Story

Texas Water Planning and the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) — the federal agency charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act — is required by a court order to decide the regulatory fate of more than 700 species of plants and animals by the end of 2018. As part of a 2011 settlement agreement between the Service… Full Story