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North Dakota

Paxton asks judge to block EPA water rules in Texas

The basic story:

Texas has asked a federal judge to block enforcement of a new rule that expands authority over which water bodies the U.S. government can regulate.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made the request Tuesday in an 88-page court document. The request comes in the wake of a federal court ruling in North Dakota that blocked enforcement of the rule in 13 states that filed suit in that court. Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers in a federal court in Houston and aren’t affected by the North Dakota ruling last week.

The May rule would greatly expand federal authority under the Clean Water Act over the bodies of water the EPA can legally regulate, restoring protections to tributaries and wetlands.

That federal ruling was issued two weeks ago, but does not apply to Texas, which is to say that the EPA rule is still in effect here. Texas, along with Louisiana and Mississippi, filed its lawsuit against the new rules a couple of months ago, but there has been no ruling in that case yet. Here’s the AG’s press release on the filing, with other information about that case, if you’re curious. You never know what a judge will do, so we’ll see what happens. WOAI and ThinkProgress have more.

Hog hell

Shannon Tompkins gives us an update on the feral hog situation.

Feral hogs seem to be everywhere. At least they are in Texas, where we are cursed with the nation’s largest population (an estimated 1.5-2 million animals and growing) of the amazingly destructive, prolific and adaptable non-native wild swine.

Yes, feral hogs are challenging to hunt and outstanding on the plate. But those are their only positive attributes. They cause more than $50 million a year in losses to Texas agricultural interests, what with their rooting and wallowing and appetites. They probably do that much or more damage to rural and suburban lawns and gardens and other property.

Feral hogs compete with native wildlife for food and space, even eating their neighbors. Biologists call feral swine “opportunistic omnivores,” meaning they’ll eat just about anything they can grab or root from the ground. They are tough on amphibians and reptiles — lizards, frogs, snakes and such — and will devastate turtle nests, as folks along the Atlantic Coast discovered when they found feral hogs plundering egg-laden nests of endangered sea turtles.

[…]

With [so many] negatives associated with feral hogs, its no wonder states that are not yet infested with the animals or have small
populations are taking drastic measures to prevent the pigs from establishing or spreading.

North Dakota is the latest state to pass a law making it illegal to import, transport or possess a feral swine; hunt or trap them; sponsor, promote or assist in hunting or trapping feral swine; or profit from the release, hunting or trapping of a feral hog.

A person convicted of violating those prohibitions faces a fine of as much as $5,000 per violation.

North Dakota’s ban on hunting, killing, transporting or releasing feral hogs or profiting in any way from those activities is meant to address the main way feral hogs are expanding their range. People are trapping, hauling and releasing feral hogs to establish populations that can be hunted, and from which money can be made.

Such releases are blamed for the much of the viral-like spread of feral hogs over the past two decades.

By removing economic incentives of establishing a feral hog population (landowners can’t legally charge hunters to hunt the animals; guides can’t charge to take people hog hunting) and even criminalizing possession of the animals, North Dakota hopes to prevent introduction of the destructive swine into their state.

Amazing how much destruction people can cause when they don’t care about the negative effects of their actions on others. Makes it a little easier to understand why we needed legislation to restrict carbon emissions, doesn’t it?