News Article | May 16, 2017
In the state of Texas the powerful Railroad Commission holds sway over oil and natural gas pollution cases, but it looks like that solid edifice is beginning to crumble. Texas rancher James McAllen took his pollution case all the way to the Texas Supreme Court and the decision is that he has the right to sue the company responsible. It’s wait-and-see if that decision opens the floodgates on Texas lawsuits against oil and natural gas companies. If it does, look out. As reported by our friends over at Law 360, the McAllen pollution case runs the table on charges that could apply to any number of other cases including negligence, fraud, assault, intentional battery, and breach of contract. If you’re looking for a hero in this story, the McAllen case seems to hand you one on a silver platter. On the one hand, the McAllen ranch has a rich history with roots back in the 1700s (many more details here). The city of McAllen was built on land donated by James McAllen’s grandfather, and in the 1990s James McAllen began participating in a black rhino preservation effort that also involved other area ranchers. However, the McAllen pollution case is not simply the tale of a conservationist land owner fighting back against encroachment by oil and gas companies. In the 1950s, a large deposit of natural gas was discovered under the sprawling McAllen Ranch. According to news reports, McAllen later leased 3,000 acres for gas development to the company Forest Oil (later Sabine Oil & Gas Corp.). McAllen alleges that he soon found that he was being shorted on royalties, a not uncommon situation with oil and gas lessors. The rancher settled his royalty claim with Forest Oil more than ten years ago. However, financial sleight-of-hand turned out to be the least of McAllen’s problems. Do check out the long form story in local news organization The Monitor, but the gist of it is that Forest Oil donated used pipes to build the rhino pen and for other uses around the ranch, and those pipes were found to contain high levels of naturally occurring radioactive material. As descried by The Monitor, one of the rhinos died in pregnancy and McAllen donated the other to the Fort Worth Zoo. McAllen himself was apparently affected, losing a leg to a rare form of bone cancer. The rancher and other stakeholders sued Forest back in 2005 and the case has been winding its way through the courts ever since. The claimants finally won a $22.7 million award through arbitration and that was confirmed by a lower court in 2012. Sabine argued that the award should be vacated because only the Texas Railroad Commission had jurisdiction to settle such claims. That argument didn’t wash with the Supreme Court of Texas. In a decision rendered April 28, the court decided this: Because McAllen’s claims are inherently judicial, the doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not apply and vacatur is not warranted for failure to abate the arbitration hearing. In other words, the Railroad Commission has jurisdiction in some matters, but not to the extent that it trumps the judicial system. …the justices held that while trial courts should allow an administrative agency like the RRC to initially “determine some facts related to the controversy” as it did in this case — both because it has its own experts and for uniformity’s sake — such primary jurisdiction is not “so broad-sweeping as to oust the courts of jurisdiction.” The Railroad Commission is been front and center in fracking and other oil and gas issues in Texas, so the McAllen case could turn out to be a pretty big deal. Just last year, the US Environmental Protection Agency smacked down the Railroad Commission for failing to acknowledge evidence linking a spate of earthquakes with oil and gas activity in the state. A look back at the 2013 Eagleridge pollution case indicates that the Railroad Commission tends to exercise a light hand over the industry, but with the door open for lawsuits through the judicial system the Railroad Commission may have to step up its game or step aside. Check out our new 93-page EV report. Join us for an upcoming Cleantech Revolution Tour conference! Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
Wijeyamohan S.,University of Peradeniya |
Wijeyamohan S.,Rajarata University |
Wijeyamohan S.,Missouri State University |
Treiber K.,Fort Worth Zoo |
And 4 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2014
A body condition score (BCS) may provide information on the health or production potential of an animal; it may also reflect the suitability of the environment to maintain an animal population. Thus assessing the BCS of Asian elephants is important for their management. There is a need for a robust BCS applicable to both wild and captive elephants of all age categories based on the minimum and maximum possible subcutaneous body fat and muscle deposits. The visually based system for scoring the body condition of elephants presented here satisfies these criteria and is quick, inexpensive, non-invasive and user-friendly in the field. The BCS scale correlates (P<0.05) with morphometric indices such as weight, girth, and skin fold measures. Zoo Biol. 34:53-59, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Brown J.L.,Conservation and Research Center |
Kersey D.C.,Conservation and Research Center |
Freeman E.W.,Conservation and Research Center |
Freeman E.W.,George Mason University |
Wagener T.,Fort Worth Zoo
Zoo Biology | Year: 2010
Longitudinal urine samples were collected from Asian and African elephants to assess sample processing and immunoassay techniques for monitoring adrenal activity. Temporal profiles of urinary cortisol measured by RIA and EIA, with and without dichloromethane extraction, were similar; all correlation coefficients were >0.90. However, based on regression analyses, cortisol immunoactivity in extracted samples was only 72-81% of that of unextracted values. Within assay technique, RIA values were only 74-81% of EIA values. Collection of 24-hr urine samples demonstrated a clear diurnal pattern of glucocorticoid excretion, with the lowest concentrations observed just before midnight and peak concentrations occurring around 0600-0800 hr. These results indicate that elephants fit the pattern of a diurnal species, and that glucocorticoid production is affected by a sleep-wake cycle similar to that described for other terrestrial mammals. Cortisol can be measured in both extracted and unextracted urine using RIA and EIA methodologies. However, unexplained differences in quantitative results suggest there may be sample matrix effects and that data generated using different techniques may not be directly comparable or interchangeable. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Williams D.A.,Texas Christian University |
Leach C.,Texas Christian University |
Hale A.M.,Texas Christian University |
Karsten K.B.,Texas Christian University |
And 5 more authors.
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2012
We developed a non-invasive DNA sampling method and 15 tetranucleotide microsatellite markers for Texas horned lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum). Swabbing the cloaca with a small cotton swab and preserving the cells in lysis buffer was an effective method to obtain tissue for DNA extraction. Loci were highly polymorphic with 8-25 alleles and observed heterozygosity was high (0.71-0.96). Some of these loci can also be used for round-tailed horned lizards (P. modestum). © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011.
News Article | March 21, 2016
The Thursday-morning hailstorms last week that pounded cars and rolled across North Texas could lead to $300 million in vehicle repairs alone. Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, said that an estimated 50,000 vehicles were battered by the storms from Fort Worth to Arlington. “This is a catastrophic event for us,” Hanna says in a Forth Worth Star-Telegram report of the hail, which fell in two occasions and varied from the size of blueberries to tennis balls. The number of damaged roofs could be around one-third of the number of damaged vehicles, Hanna added, although the cost of their repair could be double that of the vehicles’. Reports have it that insurance firm State Farm already received at least 3,850 car claims and 1,480 home claims. Last Sunday, it opened its vehicle assess sites to address the claims, and will open three more by the week’s end. The storms left the streets with debris, leaves, and some remnants of damaged structures. Even the West Division headquarters of Fort Worth Police Department was not spared, just like the Fort Worth Zoo where eight birds and five flamingos were killed. But there were also emerging winners from the damage, such as companies like Auto Glass Now – located in west Fort Worth off Interstate 30 – that already provided hundreds of estimates for affected windows. The weekend had also been likely been a lucrative one for AAA Glass, which worked on cars or replaced home windows. Hail occurs when updrafts in thunderstorms become carriers of raindrops upward into very cold areas where they freeze into ice. Hail can damage not only structures but also livestock and crops. Research focuses on accurate prediction and detection of hailstorms to give those who run in the path of the storm enough preparation time to seek shelter and protect their personal property.
News Article | March 18, 2016
Eight exotic birds were killed by hail which also damaged the canopy of a carousel at the Fort Worth Zoo, as shown in this handout photo taken in Fort Worth, Texas on March 17, 2016, and provided by the Fort Worth Zoo. Hail that killed eight exotic birds and also caused damage at the Fort Worth Zoo is shown in this handout photo taken in Fort Worth, Texas on March 17, 2016, and provided by the Fort Worth Zoo. Eight exotic birds were killed by hail which also damaged the canopy of a carousel at the Fort Worth Zoo as shown in this handout photo taken in Fort Worth, Texas on March 17, 2016, and provided by the Fort Worth Zoo. Eight exotic birds were killed at the Fort Worth Zoo on Thursday by a violent hail storm that dropped ice pellets the size of golf balls, a zoo spokeswoman said. Among the birds killed were five flamingos, a pelican, an ibis and a black-necked swan chick, said Alexis Wilson, the zoo's director of communications. The hail that hit at around 6:30 a.m. also damaged roofs and skylights, she said, but almost all of the other residents at the 7,000-animal zoo were unaffected by the hail.