“In this case, the City of Houston enacted its own air-quality ordinance when it became dissatisfied with TCEQ’s enforcement. The Court invalidated the ordinance, finding it to have been preempted by the Texas Clean Air Act,” said Baker Botts Environmental partner Matthew Kuryla. “The decision sent a clear message that Texas courts must uphold statewide uniformity when the Legislature has created regulatory programs designed to apply across Texas,” Kuryla stated.
“Both the decision itself and the denial of rehearing have important implications for when local governments can impose upon industry and citizens additional regulations beyond those already enacted by the State,” said Baker Botts Litigation partner Evan Young. “The City’s motion for rehearing doubled-down on municipalities’ ability to override state authority. The City sought to immunize itself from review by the civil courts whenever it passes any ordinance that includes criminal enforcement. Its argument was that proper review could come only after the City itself brings a prosecution in municipal court, which would be subject to ultimate review only by the Court of Criminal Appeals, not the Texas Supreme Court. The Court summarily denied that motion, which is important because subject-matter jurisdiction challenges are never waived. The key point is that the civil courts remain open for challenges to city action.”
Baker Botts Litigation Partner Evan Young who argued the appeal in the Texas Supreme Court, and Environmental Partner Matthew Kuryla, are available to comment.
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