Wealthy Tycoons Buy Rights to Blue Gold

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Wealthy individuals and large corporations are purchasing the water rights for some of the US and even the world’s biggest aquifers. Among these individuals is oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens who believes water or “blue gold” is the new oil. Located in the Texas panhandle, Roberts County sits above the biggest underground aquifer in the US. The Ogallala Aquifer stretches from the Texas all the way up into South Dakota. Pickens has been buying up land and is now the largest landowner in the county with some 68,000 acres. As well as the water rights that allow him to personally pump up to half of the Ogallala Aquifer which he plans to sell back to residents and nearby counties in need, for a profit of course. “Pickens owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more.” Water is finite and shortages are sure to come in the future. Water just like any other scarcity will make for an excellent investment opportunity. Pickens and Mesa Water are acquiring a sufficient amount water rights and political power to turn America’s heartland into a dustbowl.
Legally Pickens has the right to buy the water and sell it back to us for profit because water is governed at the state level. “The reason that the former oil tycoon and corporate raider is able to treat this water like a marketable commodity-just like oil and natural gas-is because Texas law says he can.” In Texas groundwater law is judge-made law, resulting from the English common law rule of "absolute ownership.” The groundwater belongs to the property-owner, which in Texas gives them the right to capture any water below their property and sell it. With the legal right to groundwater the rule of capture or the law of the biggest pump governs...

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...tion of the water.
No one argues that food, which is also essential to life, should be distributed and owned by the government. If we recognize water as a human right rather than a commodity, I wouldn’t think water provided by the government would be the best alternative. The Private industry would be better suited it can carry out a service at a lower cost than the government could. If water management is a company’s central job it can affect “economies of scale, provide more capital for efficiency investments, better technology, and fewer but better trained employees.” (10) Some regulatory oversight if needed could have a say in the price of water similar to natural gas and electricity. A private company would also have fewer restrictions when it comes to making the necessary investment rather than a governmental entity would when looking at infrastructure.

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