Supreme Court hears lively debate on protecting wetlands, led in part by Justice Jackson
By CJ Adams
Sept. 8, 2019 — 9:12 a.m.
The University of Texas at Austin is offering more classes on water law in response to the new Texas Supreme Court order that was issued in August on protecting the state’s waterways.
It’s not clear yet what this move means for the hundreds of students studying and teaching water law and policy on the UT campus.
But it’s clear that the university will not budge.
The fight over Texas’ wetlands is an ongoing conflict in which some landowners are convinced that they need to protect their wetlands to prevent floodwaters from causing damage. But others believe the law favors the landowners.
On Monday, the high court heard arguments in the case of In re Application of Texas Coastal Aquifer, Inc., a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by the landowners. The court’s order on the issue is a major change in how the state regulates the state’s wetlands, from the previous position that water regulation applied equally to all users of the state’s wetlands.
But that’s not the only question at stake.
Also in play: who gets to decide the law that will guide the state as it moves forward with regulating the state’s wetland areas.
Many landowners see the issue as a dispute over the state’s authority over its waterways. The water regulators maintain that the state has the authority to regulate wetlands, since it is granted the power of eminent domain through its constitution, while the landowners argue that the state has no authority to regulate any wetlands, since it is not granted the power of eminent domain.
The landowners assert that the state violated the state constitution by taking over their property without compensating them for it, while the state says the landowners tried to avoid that constitutional violation by claiming that their property was �