A Survey of New Texas Environmental and Regulatory Laws Enacted in the 88th Session (Updated)


This is a brief survey of many of the environmental and regulatory laws passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by the Governor in the 88th Regular Session of the Legislature, which ended in May 2023, although a special session has been called to address lingering matters. Altogether, more than 1,000 laws were enacted in this session, including a surprising number of water-related environmental bills.


HB1565 relates to the functions of the Texas Water Development Board and continuation and functions of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee. Effective 9.1.23.

HB1699 relates to the authority of the Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District to impose certain fees. Effective 6.9.23.

HB1845 amends Section 37 of the Water Code to add Section 37.0045 relating to the licensing requirements for certain operators of wastewater systems and public water systems. Effective 9.1.23.

HB1949 amends Section 12.057(b) of the Natural Resources Code to require a final report by the Red River Boundary Commission no later than July 30, 2027. Effective 5.24.23.

HB1971 amends sections of the Water Code relating to the procedures for acting on a permit or permit amendment application by a groundwater conservation district and the disqualification of board members of groundwater conservation districts. Effective 6.9.23.

HB2109 relates to the construction, maintenance, rehabilitation and removal of dams by the Lower Brushy Creek Water Control and Improvement District. The District is not required to comply with municipal regulations. Effective 5.23.23.

HB2373 relates to the authority of a water or sewer utility to consolidate more than one system under a single tariff. Section 13.145 of the Water Code has been repealed. Effective 6.2.23.

HB2443 amends Section 36 of the Water Code to add the authority of certain persons to petition a groundwater conservation district to change certain rules. A person with a real property interest in groundwater may petition the district where the property that gives rise to the real property interest is located to adopt a rule of modify a rule or modify a rule adopted under Section 36 of the Water Code. Effective 9.1.23.

HB2460 requires the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to obtain or develop updated water availability models for the Guadalupe, Lavaca, Nueces, San Antonio, San Jacinto and Trinity river basins. Effective 9.1.23.

HB3007 relates to the authority of the Benbrook Water Authority to issue bonds. Effective 5.27.23.

HB3437 amends Section 49.273(i) of the Water Code relating to the authority to approve change orders for certain contracts for the construction, repair and renovation of water district facilities. Effective 9.1.23.

HB3731 relates to the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District. Effective 9.1.23.

HB4742 relates to a study by the Texas Water Development Board of issues faced by communities with artificial drainage systems and prepare a written report that contains possible recommendations relating to addressing identified issues facing those communities. Effective 9.1.23.

SB28 relates to the financial assistance provided and programs administered by the Texas Water Development Board. Effective 9.1.23.

SB594 relates to requirements for and charges for service from public drinking water supply systems. SB594 amends Section 341.0315 of the Health and Safety Code. Effective 9.1.23.

SB786 amends Section 27 of the Water Code to add Section 27.037 relating to the regulation by the Railroad Commission of Texas of closed-loop geothermal injection wells. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1047 relates to funding and reports of the pilot project of the Texas Produced Water Consortium. Effective 5.13.23.

SB1088 relates to eligibility to serve as a member of the board of directors of the West Central Texas Municipal Water District. Effective 5.23.23.

SB1186 amends Section 27.036 of the Water Code relating to the regulation by the Railroad Commission of Texas of brine mining. The Commission has jurisdiction over brine mining and may issue permits for brine production wells and injection wells used for brine mining. Effective 5.27.23.

SB1226 relates to the term of office for a director of the Northeast Texas Municipal Water District. Effective. The director shall serve a two-year term beginning on June 1 of that year. Effective 5.13.23.

SB1305 relates to the transfer of the ownership rights of the City of Nacogdoches in the Central Heights Water System to the Angelina and Neches River Authority. Effective 5.13.23.

SB1424 relates to the continuation and functions of the State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Texas Invasive Species Coordinating Committee. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1778 amends Section 13 of the Water Code to add Section 13.152 relating to a retail public utility initialing, transferring or terminating a customer’s retail water or sewer service on receipt of a customer request by mail, by telephone, through an internet website, or through another electronic transmission. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1991 amends Section 8888.202 of the Special District Local Laws Code relating to the board of directors of the North Harris County Regional Water Authority. The Board shall determine an efficient and effective means of authorizing disbursements of the authority, including by electronic means. Effective 9.1.23.

SB2566 dissolves the McMullen County Water Control and Improvement District No.1. Effective 5.27.23.


HB692 amends Section 26.0481 of the Water Code to require rules governing the risk of water quality impairment and to require best management practices to ensure that the disposal of dairy waste into the control or retention facility does not impair water quality. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1965 amends Section 13.301 of the Water Code relating to requirements for the purchase or acquisition of certain water and sewer systems. Effective 9.1.23.

Parks and Wildlife

HB1809 amends Section 75 of the Parks and Wildlife Code to add Section 75.0108 relating to the establishment of the commercial oyster mariculture advisory board. The Board will advise all state agencies with authority over the oyster mariculture industry. Effective 5.27.23.

HB2755 relates to the minimum instruction requirement for the boater education program and the disposition and use of money received by the Parks and Wildlife Department from the boater education program. Effective 9.1.23.

HB2777 amends Section 11.0171 of the Parks and Wildlife Code relating to the contracting authority of the Park and Wildlife Department for goods or services. Effective 6.2.23.

HB3065 amends Section 12.013 of the Parks and Wildlife Code to authorize an employee of the Parks and Wildlife Department acting within the scope of the employee’s authority to possess, take, transport, release and manage any of the wildlife and fish in Texas for public safety, and to authorize an employee to discharge a firearm in specific circumstances. Effective 9.1.23.

HB4018 amends Section 11.032(b) of the Parks and Wildlife Code relating to the use of Parks and Wildlife Department land for carbon sequestration or similar ecosystem services projects. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1648 amends Title 3 of the Parks and Wildlife Code to add Section 21A relating to the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund. Effective 1.1.24.

Electric Vehicles

HB3014 amends Section 548.051 of the Transportation Code to exclude vehicles that use electricity as the only source of motor power from the inspection requirements relating to emissions and exhaust systems. Effective 9.1.23.

SB505 amends Section 502.198(a) of the Transportation Code to impose an additional fee of $400 for the registration of a new, current electric vehicle, and $200 for the registration or renewal of registration of any vehicle that is not new and current (including newly purchased used vehicles). Effective 9.1.23.

SB1002 amends Title 2 of the Utilities Code to add Chapter 42 relating to the operation of public electric vehicle charging stations. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1364 amends Section 621.101(b-1) of the Transportation Code relating to the weight limitations for certain natural gas or electric vehicles. A natural gas or electric vehicle may exceed the gross weight limitation by up to 2,000 pounds provided that the maximum gross weight of the vehicle may not exceed 82,000 pounds. Effective 6.2.23.

SB1732 amends Title 14 of the Occupations Code to add Chapter 2311 to require the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to adopt standards for electric vehicle charging stations no later than December 1, 2024. Effective 5.24.23.


HB19 creates a Texas business court designated to resolve corporate and commercial disputes. The judges will be appointed by the Texas governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve for a two-year term. The Court will hear cases commenced on or after September 1, 2024. Effective 9.1.23.

HB1750 amends various sections of the Agricultural Code relating to the applicability of nuisance actions and governmental requirements on agricultural operations. Effective 9.1.23.

HB3060 amends Section 361.003 of the Health and Safety Code relating to the regulation of recycling and recycled products. Effective 5.27.23.

HB3096 amends Section 418.310(a) of the Government Code relating to the date by which the Texas Energy Reliability Council is required to submit to the legislature a report on the reliability and stability of the electricity supply chain. The Council must submit the report no later than December 1 of each even-numbered year. Effective 9.1.23.

HB3301 dissolves the Green Tree Park Municipal Utility District. Effective 9.1.23.

HCR77 designates November as Texas Wildlife and Conservation Month for a 10-year period beginning in 2023. Effective 6.9.23.

SB471 amends Section 5.176 of the Water Code to not require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to investigate a complaint that was filed by an individual when there is not a reasonable probability that the commission can substantiate the complaint and the complaint is repetitious or redundant of other complaints concerning the same site investigated in the preceding 12 months that were not substantiated by the Commission. Effective 9.1.23.

SB784 amends Section 382 of the Health and Safety Code to add Section 382.005 relating to the exclusive jurisdiction of the state to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and the express preemption of local regulations to the extent not preempted by federal law. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1017 amends Section 247 of the Local Government Code to add Section 247.001 relating to the authority of a political subdivision to regulate an energy source or engine. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1210 amends Section 89.047 of the Natural Resources Code relating to the authority of the Railroad Commission of Texas to designate certain persons as the operator of an orphaned oil or gas well. Effective 9.1.23.

SB1397 amends Section 5.014 of the Water Code to extend the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to September 1, 2035 instead of September 1, 2023. The Sunset Commission recommends a plethora of requirements for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to increase transparency and enforcement methods.

HB1500 and SB2627: These new laws are designed to strengthen ERCOT and the ability of the Texas grid to function in emergencies. A new “Texas Energy Fund” will be established if the necessary constitutional amendment is approved.


In addition to the laws identified in the initial survey, notice should be made of these new laws.

SB 1397, which extended the life of the TCEQ following the completion of the five-year Sunset review, also amended the Natural Resources Code to allow the Commission to develop by rule the “criteria to establish a de minimis level of air contaminants” for certain temporary concrete plants for public works. The designated site may not be occupied for more than 180 days. The permitting procedures of Chapter 5 of the Water Code are also revised. Public notice of permit applications may be provided by electronic notice. The Water Code’s compliance history provisions have been amended, and an “enforcement diversion program” for small businesses and local governments has been established. Chapter 28A of the Water Code is amended to require the TCEQ to develop best management practices for aggregate production.

SB 1289 amends the Water Code to allow for the disposal of reclaimed wastewater by a wastewater treatment facility or reclaimed water production facility at a wastewater collection facility without a permit for an alternate means of disposal if certain specified conditions are met. The TCEQ is directed to adopt rules to implement these statutory changes.

On August 190, 2023, Governor Abbott ceremonially signed two energy bills passed by the legislature.

HB 33 is described as strengthening an executive order protecting the Texas oil and gas industry from “harmful federal actions.” The Natural Resources Code is amended to prohibit state employees from providing assistance to federal authorities that desire to impose a federal requirement that does not have a counterpart under the laws of the State of Texas.

SB 1017 amends Chapter 247 of the Local Government Code to prohibit cities, counties and political subdivisions in Texas from banning gasoline engines or fueling stations in accordance with certain specified exceptions.