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What does Texas consider an environmental crime?

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Texas environmental laws help to protect the state’s natural resources. Failing to abide by these laws can land one in legal trouble. However, many people are unaware of what constitutes an environmental crime under state law. In today’s post, we examine some of the most commonly prosecuted environmental crimes:

Inappropriate waste handling

The following actions are illegal under Texas law, unless appropriate licenses or permits are in place:

  • Illegal dumping – including disposing at, receiving at and transporting to an unapproved solid waste site
  • Littering any trash, sewage, chemical or dead animal carcass in a cave
  • Violating sewage disposal system regulations
  • Violating ordinances regarding the handling and disposal of used oil
  • Unapproved handling or radioactive waste
  • Disposing of lead-acid batteries anywhere other than at an approved collection or recycling facility
  • Transporting, processing, storing or disposing of hazardous waste at any unapproved location or without a manifest
  • Generating, storing, processing, transporting or disposing of medical waste without the necessary permits

Environmental harm

Actions that harm – or risk harm – to nature or human life are also illegal. These include:

  • Reckless emission of air contaminants
  • Handling pesticides in a manner that causes harm to humans, wildlife or nature
  • Violating septic tank, injection well or safe drinking water rules
  • Violating the Clean Air Act
  • Failing to use proper pollution control measures
  • Discharging waste or pollutants into water in a manner that is not in compliance with state regulations

Lack of transparency

Making dishonest statements about environmental safety or failing to disclose known environmental hazards is also illegal in Texas. This may include:

  • Making a false statement about, or failing to report, an environmental issue – such as a discharge or spill – to the appropriate agency
  • Misrepresenting or failing to disclose any hazardous waste information – related to the label, manifest, permit, plan, etc.
  • Tampering with any pollution control or monitoring devices

The penalties for each of these crimes vary, but usually involve both fines and jail time. Any infraction involving intentional endangerment faces more severe penalties. Penalties also increase if it is not an individual’s first such offense.

Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can be a helpful first step for anyone facing such charges.