No. However, Texas local governments do have the ability to bring suit in the “same manner” as the TCEQ in district courts for injunctive relief and civil penalties for violations of Texas environmental laws. That authority, which is now located in Section 7.351 of the Texas Water Code, has recently spawned a cottage industry of environmental litigation in Texas.
For instance, in the past five years, Harris County has brought about ten cases a year, with penalties averaging $61,000 per case. However, several high-profile cases have resulted in larger settlements, including an agreement with AT&T for $5 million dollars related to a leaking underground storage tank and a $29.2 million agreement with McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp. and Waste Management, Inc. related to historical contamination from several waste pits.
Most of the recent litigation has been handled by outside law firms on a contingency basis which led to serious concerns about possible violations of due process rights of the defendants and some say led to the amendment of the statute.
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