Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

UPDATED: AG Stay Request Denied in Whooping Crane Case, Judge Amends Order

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The Texas Attorney General says the TCEQ, the state's environmental regulator, was not responsible for killing 23 rare whooping cranes.

UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon State Attorney General Abbot’s request to stay the ruling on TCEQ water management was denied, according to The Aransas Project, the plaintiffs in the case.

However, the language of Judge Jack’s original order (the one the state was trying to stay) was amended to allow the TCEQ to approve water permits from the Guadalupe and San Antonio River basins which are “necessary to protect the public’s health and safety.”

You can find the document denying the stay and amending the original order here.

Earlier this week, a federal judge found the state’s environmental agency guilty of violating the Endangered Species Act. The ruling, which could have implications for the water management across the state, said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) was responsible for the deaths of 23 rare Whooping Cranes. It prohibited the TCEQ from issuing new water use permits for the Guadalupe and San Antonio River unless the Agency could prove that the cranes would not be impacted.

Today, the Texas Attorney General said the state would appeal that ruling, and sought an emergency stay from the federal district court while the state plans that appeal.

A statement from the Attorney General’s office says the ruling “exceeded its lawful authority” and “could cause severe economic harm to the State and impose drastic federal regulations on the farms, ranches and communities along the Guadalupe and San Antonio Rivers.”

The AG’s Office also said that U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack “incorrectly faulted” the TCEQ in the birds’ deaths.

The move doesn’t come as a surprise. In the immediate aftermath of Judge Jack’s ruling, the TCEQ said it would “seek relief from the court’s action enjoining the agency from approving or granting new water right permits.”

The agency also said it was “considering” an appeal of the case. The Attorney General’s statement today indicates that an appeal will go forward.


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