Texas beefed up its environmental laws in the 1990s. Businesses and individuals who litter or pollute can fall foul of the criminal laws.
The new laws came on the back of deteriorating environmental conditions in the state more than 25 years ago.
Although Texas has seen a strengthening of its green laws in recent years, the penalties for environmental crimes are not as tough as in many states and the criminal law offers few protections for acts against wildlife.
Here are some of the main environmental crimes in Texas.
Under Title 5 of the Health and Safety Code, a person who disposes or allows the disposal of litter or other solid waste at a location that’s not an approved public waste site or is within 300 feet of a public highway or a public right of way, commits an offense.
The dumping law applies to public or private land and inland and coastal waters. An offense of littering carries a fine of $200-$4,000. The seriousness of the penalty depends on the material dumped and the scale of the offense. The offender could face up to one year in jail.
There are also offenses for dumping certain dangerous substances, including:
Dumping of Used Motor Oil
It’s an offense in Texas to intentionally dump used motor oil. Used motor oil causes major levels of pollution. Once motor oil escapes an engine it can travel long distances, and usually ends up in waterways. Motor oil is toxic to animals and plants. It forms a film that can impair natural processes, such as oxygen replenishment and photosynthesis. Used motor oil can also reach and pollute soil and drinking water.
Just one quart of used motor oil can contaminate a quarter million gallons of water.
It is also unlawful to pour used motor oil into sewers or drains, to dump it into the ground, or put it in trash cans. Oil must be put in protective containers and taken to authorized recycling locations.
If you are caught disposing of used motor oil in contravention of Texas law, you will face a minimum fine of $1,000 and up to five years in jail.
Disposing of Lead-Acid Batteries
Lead-acid batteries are another car component that is highly detrimental to the environment. It’s unlawful to knowingly dump a car battery or lead-acid battery anywhere outside of an authorized collection or recycling center. Lead is a poisonous metal that’s linked to brain damage in children. Dumping of batteries is a crime punishable by a fine of up $4,000 and a year in jail.’
The Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force
When the alleged offender is a business entity, the local and federal resources of the Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force may be brought to bear. In 2012, for instance, the task force investigated a Dallas meat packing company for allegedly dumping pig blood into a river.
At the Medlin Law Firm, our Texas defense attorney is dedicated to defending the accused whatever the nature of the crime. Please call us at today for a free consultation about your case.