Vanessa Casado Perez, Professor and Dean’s Research Chair at Texas A&M School of Law and a Research Associate Professor at Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics, joined the Wallace Stegner as our 18th Annual Young Scholar. Professor Perez’s scholarship focuses on property and natural resources law; her research has been published, among others, by NYU Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, Iowa Law Review, and University of Southern California Law Review. She previously was the Pace- Haub Environmental Law 2021-22 Distinguished Junior Scholar.
Professor Perez delivered her Young Scholar Lecture on October 27, 2022 on “Water Markets: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Her lecture analyzed recent developments in water marketing. The term water market refers to many different types of transactions, from a water lease between neighboring farmers to the trading of water futures in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange or the investment of Wall Street firms in irrigation mutuals in Colorado. Unfortunately, not every market may fulfill our efficiency and fairness expectations. Critics of water markets usually consider all water markets to be tainted because they commodify a valuable resource. However, properly regulated water markets can be a useful tool to deal with water scarcity, a permanent phenomenon in a climate change era.
In discussing her Young Scholar Lecture, Professor Perez noted, ““Water scarcity is a current problem getting worse due to climate change. Agencies governing and allocating water will have to make tough decisions because there is no water for every use and every user. While markets are not, and I would say cannot, be the main allocation mechanisms, but water rights markets can introduce much needed flexibility in our allocation when facing low water availability. Water markets ensure a more efficient allocation by moving water to whoever values it the most but, for that, they need the visible hand of government to correct. Critics of water market often argue that water markets may have negative consequences for low-income individuals, the environment, and communities where water is sold from. I argue that water markets can be regulated in a way that mitigate those concerns and serve values beyond efficiency.”
In discussing Professor Perez’s scholarship and her role as the Stegner Center’s 18th annual young scholar, Bob Keiter, Director of the Stegner Center, noted, “Professor Casado Perez’s scholarship on water law and property rights is at the cutting edge as we grapple in the West and elsewhere with the new world of drought and water shortages. As she demonstrates, market-based solutions hold promise but must be conceived and implemented with care, taking account of existing property rights as well as potential environmental, economic, and political impacts.”
Professor Perez’s Young Scholar presentation on “Water Markets: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” is posted online on the College of Law’s YouTube channel. Her Young Scholar Lecture will also be published in the environmental and natural resources law issue of the student-edited Utah Law Review.
The Young Scholars Program, which is made possible by the generous support of the Cultural Vision Fund, is designed to recognize and establish a relationship with promising scholars early in their academic careers. Recipients are selected based on their accomplishments, the quality of their academic work, and their promise in the field of environmental and natural resources law and policy.
Past Stegner Center Young Scholars include: Professor Etienne C. Toussaint, University of South Carolina School of Law; Professor Karen Bradshaw, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University; Professor Jason Robison, University of Wyoming College of Law Professor; Uma Outka, University of Kansas School of Law; Professor Felix Mormann, Texas A&M University School of Law; Professor Sanne Knudsen, University of Washington School of Law; Professor Dave Owen, UC Hastings College of Law; Professor Emily Hammond, George Washington University Law School; Professor Katrina Kuh, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University (now at Pace); Professor Noah Hall, Wayne State University of Law; the late Professor Lesley McAllister, then at the University of San Diego School of Law; Professor Jason Czarnezki, Vermont Law School (now at Pace); Professor Barbara Cosens, University of Idaho School of Law; Professor Kim Connolly, University of South Carolina School of Law (now at SUNY Buffalo); Professor Jamison Colburn, Western New England College School of Law (now at Penn State); Professor Amy Sinden, Temple University Beasley School of Law; and Professor Reed Benson, University of Wyoming College of Law (now at New Mexico).