Texas Supreme Court holds City not entitled to TCEQ contested case hearing

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality v City of Waco, No. 11-0729 ( Tex. August 23, 2013)

This is an administrative law case where the City of Waco was denied the ability to have a contested case challenge to a permit issued to a local dairy for animal feeding operation discharges. The TCEQ denied Waco’s request and the City appealed. The Court of Appeals held the City was an “affected person” and entitled to a contested case hearing.  The Texas Supreme Court disagreed and held the TCEQ did not abuse its discretion in denying the hearing request and reinstated the trial court’s holding.

In this 28 page opinion the Court analyzed the TCEQ’s role.  The Court acknowledged that the City of Waco was instrumental in urging legislation to better control such permits and giving some control to municipalities regarding such permits. However, the dairy was not seeking a new permit, but was seeking to amend its existing permit, which the Court found significant. The TCEQ has a certain level of discretion in whether to grant a contested case hearing. After analyzing the reasons listed by the TCEQ, the Court determined it was within the agency’s discretion in this case and there was no abuse.

If you would like to read this opinion click here.