A coalition of Houston plant operators filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Houston, alleging an air quality ordinance adopted by the city last summer violates state law.
"We filed to get the court's review because we believe the ordinance conflicts with state law, and we believe it's very difficult for our members to have a patchwork of regulations to follow," said Business Coalition for Clean Air Appeal Group spokeswoman Elizabeth Hendler.
Hendler noted that the group spent "several months" working with the city without success to find a compromise after the ordinance was adopted.
She said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a state agency, has authority delegated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air quality and previously regulated Houston facilities.
"Now, businesses could be facing enforcement by the city for things considered lawful by the state," said Hendler.
Under the ordinance adopted by the city last July, both civil and criminal penalties can be assessed to those found to be breaking the city law.
The petition seeks to keep the city from enforcing the ordinance and "interfering in any way with the TCEQ's exclusive authority to regulate air quality control in the state of Texas."
Though the ordinance affects numerous small businesses, the BCCA Appeal Group is comprised of and funded by large chemical plant operators.
The BCCA Appeal Group was established in 2001 by members of the Business Coalition for Clean Air, an offshoot of the Greater Houston Partnership.