Bonnen Amendment to SB 875 Would Trample Private Property Rights

May 26th, 2011


Senate urged not to concur with SB 875 due to Bonnen Amendment

AUSTIN, TX—The Texas League of Conservation Voters sounded the alarm on a late-session move by Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) that infringes on private property rights and eliminates the public’s right to protect themselves from pollution. Municipalities could also lose their ability to address environmental contamination from pollutants that pose a direct threat to city water supplies.

Rep. Bonnen’s amendment to Senate Bill 875 would give polluters immunity for personal injury and property damage.

“The Bonnen Amendment takes away the rights of individuals, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and local governments to protect their property from pollution,” said TLCV Executive Director David Weinberg.

“It’s an outrageous attempt in the waning hours of this legislative session to trample on private property rights and an individual’s ability to seek recourse against polluters that harm their land and their own lives and livelihoods,” added Weinberg.

TLCV is urging the Texas Senate not to concur with the House version of SB 875 because of the Bonnen amendment and the potential harm it will cause private property owners and the public.

Bonnen’s amendment will give polluters immunity for personal injury and property damage. This amendment changes the Civil Practice and Remedies Code to apply to all nuisance actions, brought by individuals and the government.

A nuisance in legal terms is an unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of your property. To prevent a polluter from destroying your land, you could bring what’s called a nuisance action against them to get them to stop and pay for any damages to your property.

The amendment would give immunity to any polluter in a suit for nuisance or trespass, if the polluter proves its conduct was authorized by federal or state permit.

“This amendment poses a significant risk to private property owners and to local governments’ ability to protect and preserve the safety and quality of our public water supplies,” said Weinberg. “We hope private property owners and local goverments make it known to lawmakers that this cannot pass.”

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Released May 26, 2011

Media contact: David Weinberg, (512) 477-4424