Board votes in split decision to appeal Judge Campbell’s decision favoring landowners

The Aquifer Protectors! From L to R, Eric Allmon (attorney for Environmental Stewardship), Michele Gangnes (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Andy Meyer (Paige landowner), Darwyn Hanna (Bastrop landowner), Ernie Bogart (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Betz Brown (Lee County landowner), Don Grissom (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Steve Box (Executive Director Environmental Stewardship)

The Aquifer Protectors! From L to R, Eric Allmon (attorney for Environmental Stewardship), Michele Gangnes (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Andy Meyer (Paige landowner), Darwyn Hanna (Bastrop landowner), Ernie Bogart (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Betz Brown (Lee County landowner), Don Grissom (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Steve Box (Executive Director Environmental Stewardship)

In an ironic twist, having denied Landowners a seat at the table in the original 2014 contested case hearing involving End Op’s application for a massive groundwater permit, the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District’s Board of Directors essentially did it again Thursday night. The Board voted 4 to 2 to appeal Judge Campbell’s decision favoring the Landowners. This time, saying they are appealing because they want to be sure they have … A SEAT AT THE TABLE.  

The fact of the matter is, by appealing the Judge’s decision, they are opposing and not accepting the judge’s ruling that the District erred in denying landowners a voice, no matter what they say is their reason for appealing.  Only time will tell whether the District has actually softened its position on landowners rights to protest permits.  Up until now, the District’s lawyers have aggressively taken the same position as End OP, that the landowners do not deserve standing to protest the permit.  

After nearly an hour of closed discussion in executive session the Board returned to public session where they openly asked questions of their lawyers and engaged in a discussion with the members of the public who were present.  They then retired to a second executive session before taking any action, apparently in reaction to the public’s comments … all firsts in our 10+ years of experience with this Board. 

End Op files notice of appeal in Bastrop groundwater case

District leaves appeal open to End Op by inaction

Environmental Stewardship Executive Director Steve Box on Wednesday urges the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District board not to appeal a court decision allowing a group of Bastrop County landowners to challenge a permit for Recharge Water to withdraw 15 billion gallons of groundwater annually from the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. MARY HUBER/BASTROP ADVERTISER

January 25 2018.

The Lost Pines District “tabled” any action on Judge Carson Campbell’s ruling earlier in January. We did not want the District to appeal the Judge’s ruling in favor of four landowners, but we did not want the District to create a vacuum either.

The District’s failure to move forward with a hearing in adherence to the judge’s order has left uncertainty in the District’s position, creating an opportunity for End Op to continue the litigation for now through an appeal.  As such, yesterday End Op acted on that opening and filed an appeal of the Judge’s Final Judgement in the Court of Appeals for the Third District of Texas (Austin).

The District should respect the judge’s ruling and expeditiously grant a hearing to Landowners (Plaintiffs), thereby putting an end to the District’s enabling of End Op’s recent appeal.

Sitting-on-their-hand makes the District complicit in the appeal that End Op has now filed.

To clearly move in adherence to Judge Campbell’s ruling, the District needs to take two affirmative public actions: 1) immediately direct their attorneys not to appeal, and 2) affirmatively granting a hearing on the End Op permit application that includes the Landowners as parties.

Appeal of judge’s ruling on Bastrop groundwater issue up in the air

Article by Mary Huber, Bastrop Advertiser

ATTENTION BASTROP AND LEE COUNTY LANDOWNERS

READ ON AND TAKE ACTION