Texas faces diverse environmental problems, including polluted air in the state’s major urban areas, contaminated surface and drinking water, degradation of coastal areas and critical wildlife habitats, and solid waste disposal needs. In response, the Texas Legislature enacted legislation in the early 1990s that created additional criminal penalties for violations of the state’s environmental laws and regulations.
In addition to these laws, the governor signed an executive order creating the Texas Environmental Enforcement Task Force. The task force is composed of staff from the different federal, state, and local agencies involved in enforcing Texas’ environmental protection laws and regulations. The goal of the task force is to coordinate federal and state efforts in the investigation and prosecution of criminal violations of state and federal environmental laws. As a result of these measures, Texas now sets the standard for the nation on the investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes.
To report an environmental crime, please call:
TCEQ Environmental Violations HotLine
TCEQ Special Investigations Section
There are other environmental crimes besides those discussed above. Some of the most common is the dumping of barrels of wastes and the dumping of septic waste. For anyone coming across such wastes, safety is a major consideration. For instance, barrels with some wastes could explode if kicked or tipped. Always stay upwind of and preferably 50 feet away from dumped barrels. Never approach a fire or a spill. Keep others away from the area and contact the local fire department.
Additional information on environmental crime enforcement is available on the TCEQ website.
Environmental Enforcement Unit Midland County
To file a complaint: Complaint Form
Used Motor Oil
A fine between $1,000 and $50,000 and up to five years of imprisonment for each day the violation has occurred.
One reason the punishment is so high is that just one quart of used motor oil can contaminate a quarter million gallons of water.
For people who change their own motor oil, the only legal way to dispose of the dirty oil is to place it in a clean, leak-proof container with a tight lid, such as an empty milk jug. It should never be mixed with antifreeze, solvents, bleach, or other substances. The used oil should then be taken to a registered collection center. Most quick lube service centers, such a Jiffy Lube, Quick Lube, Wal-mart Tire and Lube Express, and Auto Zone, accept used motor oil for recycling.
Dumping Litter & Trash At An Unpermitted Location
For dumping, a fine between $200 and $4,000 dollars depending on the amount and type of waste dumped, a potential jail sentence of up to one year in jail, and the possible loss of the vehicle used during the violation. Also, property owners may have to pay for getting their property cleaned up because they allowed someone to dump on their property.
Litter and illegally dumped garbage are public health hazards. Children playing around illegally dumped litter can get hurt by broken glass, exposed metal, and other dangerous materials. Rats, snakes, mosquitoes, and other pests can live in garbage and transmit diseases to humans. Rotting food attracts flies, which carry germs that can make people sick. Harmful chemicals and other materials that are dumped can contaminate our water.
Find out what choices there are to get rid of garbage legally. Talk to local government officials about creating options if there are none.
Reduce the amount of garbage produced by buying brands with less packaging. Buy products in bulk quantities or buy refills. When there is less packaging, there is less garbage. Instead of disposable products, buy things that can be washed and reused. Find other uses for things instead of throwing them away.
Many communities now have recycling centers. Call community leaders to find out about such recycling options, or to support a center if one does not exist.
Up to a $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Each day and each battery is considered a separate offense for knowingly disposing of or discarding a lead-acid or “car” battery anywhere except at an authorized collection or recycling center.
Lead is a strong poison. Too much lead in the body can damage the brain and nervous system, blood, kidneys, the digestive system, and the reproductive system.
Texas enacted a law in 1992 that made it illegal to dispose of a lead-acid battery in any manner other than through a battery dealer or approved collection or recycling center. This legislation also mandates that when citizens buy new automotive batteries at an auto parts store, gas station, or repair shop, the dealer is required to accept the old one. These used batteries are then sold to companies that recycle the batteries in large volumes.