Texas Wesleyan Law Review

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If oil were involved, rather than water, Texas law provides the landowner absolute ownership of all the oil and gas in place beneath his land. However, the Texas' Railroad Commission requires a permit before drilling operations begin, enforces spacing rules, and sets production limits designed to maximize the overall production from the reservoir and enforce the correlative rights of neighbors. The Railroad Commission also makes and enforces rules to minimize waste and environmental damage. These rules sound like Arizona's "reasonable use" doctrine for ground water; the concepts are familiar to Texas legislators, Texas courts and to Texas property owners. Using the State's police powers in such a regulatory scheme has already been tested in Texas courts in oil and gas regulation, and a centralized state agency such as the Texas Water Commission offers advantages in cost and expertise. The application of the reasonable use doctrine to ground water appears to be the best alternative.



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