Harris County authorities will soon have more firepower to tackle environmental crimes committed in the Houston area.
In a 5-0 vote on Tuesday, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved the hiring of eight new employees at the District Attorney’s Office.
The unanimous vote represents a $850,000 budget increase for the DA’s Environmental Crimes Division.
The vote will likely lead to the prosecution of more companies who pollute water and illegally dispose of waste in the region.
“This is about the county making environmental policy a priority,” Judge Lina Hidalgo said prior to the vote.
The eight new hires in the District Attorney’s Office will include more prosecutors, investigators, and paralegals to handle the caseload. According to District Attorney Kim Ogg, the Environmental Crimes Division handles between 400-500 cases annually.
The vote to increase the Environmental Crimes Division’s funding comes one day after the same office charged Intercontinental Terminals Company with five misdemeanor counts of water pollution after last month’s fire at a Deer Park chemical plant.
Speaking in support of the new funding proposal were a number of environmental groups and victims to pollution that argued more prosecutions would be healthy for Houston’s community and surrounding ecosystems.